PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their second straight game to start the 2019 season on Sunday, losing 28-26 to the Seattle Seahawks to fall to 0-2 on the young campaign.
That might not be the worst news.
Starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the game in the second quarter with an injury to his right, throwing elbow, and starting running back James Conner left the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.
Missing two of its top playmakers, the Steelers’ offense still had a better than it did in the season opener against New England.
Conner scored from 1-yard out in the first quarter to give the Steelers an early lead. Two Chris Boswell field goals helped keep the pace and Rudolph hit Vance McDonald from eight yards out in the fourth quarter to pull the Steelers back to within two. Rudolph was intercepted on the two-point conversion attempt.
But Seattle was also able to find paydirt. Russell Wilson hit tight end Will Dissly for a 14-yard score on the opening drive of the second quarter. Those two connected once again in the third quarter to capitalize on a short field after an interception when Rudolph’s pass went through the hands of Donte Moncrief.
After the Steelers’ missed conversion, a pair of misplays by safety Terrell Edmunds allowed Seattle to extend its lead. He was called for defensive pass interference on a critical third down and then was beaten to the corner by Seattle rookie DK Metcalf for a touchdown.
Mike Hilton kept the Steelers in the game by forcing the second fumble of the game by Seattle running back Ben Carson. Devin Bush recovered and returned it to the 3-yard line and Rudolph hit McDonald for the first multi-score game of his career.
But the Steelers weren’t able to re-gain possession, as Chris Carson converted on a crucial 4th and 1 in Pittsburgh territory to allow the Seahawks to run the clock out.
The Steelers fell to 0-2 and will travel to San Francisco next week.
From the Locker Room: Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool on Connecting for a Big Score
PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool talk about their connection for an 84-yard touchdown pass via Zoom with the Pittsburgh media, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, after the Steelers’ 26-21 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.
Steelers Pass Rush Finds Mark in Big Way against Broncos
PITTSBURGH — The Steelers entered their game against Denver on Sunday with one singular focus on defense: to get to and rattle young Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.
That goal was accomplished fairly early on. Midway through the first quarter, Lock slipped away from rushing Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, only to be blindsided by fellow pass rush maven Bud Dupree.
Dupree knocked the ball out, Mike Hilton recovered, and Lock never did. The Broncos young quarterback left the game and did not return after the play.
— NFL France (@NFLFrance) September 20, 2020
Knocking the quarterback out of the game in the first quarter might seem ideal, but it actually required the Steelers to rethink their game plan a bit. Broncos backup Jeff Driskel came into the game and the veteran backup was more poised, less prone to panic and at the end of the day more successful than his younger cohort.
“We played against Driskel in his days in Cincinnati,” Tomlin said. “More than anything, it’s tough to anticipate their alternative plans, the adjustments that they make, their package of plays that maybe highlight his skill set. It threw us off rhythm. It’s something to adjust to but I’m sure the loss of Drew Lock also threw them off rhythm. So we’re not going to make excuses for our performance. It was really a good job by them adjusting and adapting to circumstances and working to put themselves in the position to win.”
Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds said that the team went to a bit more of a vanilla game plan when facing Driskel while waiting to see what the Broncos would do after they were forced to change.
“Once they switched quarterbacks, everything switched up because we didn’t know what we were going to get out of the second quarterback,” Edmunds said. “So we had to go back to the basics.”
For the rest of the first half, it didn’t seem to matter. The Steelers sacked Driskel four more times before the end of the half. But in the second half, the Broncos’ veteran seemed to settle in. T.J. Watt recorded his second solo sack of the game on the Broncos’ first third-quarter possession, but from then until the end of the game, he was able to operate relatively unmolested.
Driskel led the Broncos on two second-half touchdown drives and was threatening on what would have been a game-winning third, the Steelers needed to change things up.
So they dialed up a blitzing Edmunds, far from the Steelers’ most common pass rush and it fooled the Broncos. Edmunds came unblocked, sacking Driskel on a crucial fourth down to seal the win for the Steelers.
From the Locker Room: Joe Haden says Steelers Looked to be Physical Despite Penalties
Steelers cornerback Joe Haden speaks with reporters, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about the pass interference penalties against his team and the defense’s fourth-quarter stop in their 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos.
Joe Haden had an up and down day, recording an interception but also losing some one-on-one battles, most notably almost being beat for what would’ve been a sure touchdown until the receiver tripped.