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Bailey: Three Steelers Who Must Have Big Games vs. Packers

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The good news for the Steelers this Sunday is that they are getting a plethora of talent back from injury, particularly on defense. The bad news is they are facing a Packers team that’s won consecutive games and seems poised to leave its Week 1 loss at New Orleans in the sut.

Pittsburgh will probably need to play its best game of the season to end its two game losing streak, but these three players in particular will have to stand out in order for the Steelers to come back from Lambeau Field with an upset win.

1. RT Joel Haeg

Ben Roethlisberger has been under constant pressure this year. He’s been sacked almost as many times in 2021 (10) as he was in all of 2020 (14). Chukwuma Okorafor has been one of the main reasons for the Steelers offensive line struggles. With him sidelined due to a concussion, and Zach Banner still not in the lineup, Haeg will have to step up.

Roethlisberger has been sacked on five percent of his dropbacks this year, the second most in his career. One thing working in Haeg’s favor is that he doesn’t have a high bar to clear in terms of production. The Packers are also playing without top edge rusher Za’Darius Smith. The Steelers have a simple formula to follow: Keep Big Ben clean to move the ball. But so far, that’s been easier said than done.

2. Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick is without a takeaway through three games. With the offense not producing, the Steelers need big plays from their All-Pro safety. This isn’t to say Fitzpatrick hasn’t been good, but he’s yet to make a momentum-shifting play. A Fitzpatrick interception could make a difference on the outcome. We know he’s capable of those plays, now it’s time for him to make one.

3. Pat Freiermuth

Without Chase Claypool in the lineup, the Packers will key in on Diontae Johnson. He’ll still get his touches, but Ben Roethlisberger needs a safety valve.

Freiermuth has been an increasingly important part of the Steelers offense. He’s the most well-rounded tight end on the roster, and got his first touchdown last week. When the down and distance is ugly, with attention outside, Freiermuth could be who Roethlisberger looks to get the Steelers out of a jam. It could be a big day for the rookie out of Penn State.

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