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Steelers Snap Streak of First-Drive Futility



Steelers RB Najee Harris
Steelers RB Najee Harris against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oct. 29, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers have cracked the code on their first drive struggles. Pittsburgh put up their first opening touchdown drive of the season. It is their first touchdown on an opening drive since December 18th, 2022, against the Carolina Panthers. Pittsburgh has not even scored points on their opening since last season’s game on January 1st against the Baltimore Ravens. That cold spell is now over.

It all came on a beautifully designed run that allowed Najee Harris to dart through the Titans’ defense with great blocks. Isaac Seumalo came around on a pull while Broderick Jones reached the second level with ease. Pittsburgh went up 7-0 after the touchdown while the Titans looked to respond.

Overall, the drive consisted of new wrinkles, including two plays with snap at the motion. Kenny Pickett’s lone flaw on the drive was an overthrow on a rhythm curl route for Diontae Johnson. But Johnson ended up catching two more throws on that drive and turning that into the first down. The next play, after a 19-yard reception by Johnson, Harris ran it in from ten yards out. That comes on the heels of Jones starting at right tackle and Matt Canada coming down from the booth to the sidelines to call the game. Those changes paid off, at least for one drive.

Overall, the drive ended in ten plays for 78 yards, and Pittsburgh took just five minutes off the clock. Pittsburgh had five plays of ten yards or more. It was not just the best opening drive of the season but one of the best drives. The Steelers were efficient and attacked weaknesses that the Titans had, with a few injuries to the back end of the team, including slot cornerback Roger McCreary missing the game. Pittsburgh will now look to keep that momentum positive as they try to move to 5-2.