It's just one game into the season and the check engine light is on already? You've got to be kidding me.
Alright lets break it down...
We beat Cleveland on Sunday ✓.
Ben made it through the game with no injuries ✓.
Antonio Brown and the receivers made it through the game with no injuries and the tight ends are cool too. The O-line is healthy and they only gave up one sack
Now to check on the running back and oooh, there it is! That's what's setting off the check engine light. Now that we found the issue lets see what's going on with him.
Did he get hurt, nope. Did he fumble or miss a block. nope. He needs a tune up? And that's why you don't miss training camp. For all of Le'Veon Bell's greatness, there is one thing that he couldn't do while sitting out... taking a hit.
Since Le'Veon chose to sit out due to his contract, he gave up one thing that he couldn't get when sitting out, taking hits. Something that seems so small plagued him the whole game. He couldn't gage the hit speed of the defense. Yes he did get through the game with no injuries or fumbles, but he was completely off rhythm. That's why you don't sit out practice, even if he didn't play any preseason games, he would've had his game rhythm. This caused the NFL's most complete back to rush for only 35 yards on 10 carries and no this isn't a typing error. You could see that he was visibly off and had no rhythm for the game. So now he has the daunting task of getting his flow back while preparing to take on the Minnesota Vikings defense. I hate to say it, but thank goodness we played the Browns who were playing in a new defensive scheme or we would've had major trouble.
Now onto the defense. The played great for this unit especially since they committed some bone head penalties. Not to mention actively trying to keep the Browns in the game with freebie unnecessary roughing penalties. That means you Ryan Shazier, TJ Watt, JJ Wilcox, and an honorable mention Big Ben (even though he didn't get flagged). These penalties can't and shouldn't happen against the Vikings because if they do, they will put points on the board. Some of the highlights of the game belonged to the special teams and a rookie linebacker and 3rd year linebackers.
Lets start with Tyler Matakevich he set the tone by blocking the 1st punt attempt of the game, which led to Anthony Chickillo recovering the ball in the end zone for the game's 1st touchdown.
The front seven for the Steelers remained disruptive all game, recording 7 sacks which should've been 10 but 3 were taken away by penalties. Our front 3 recorded 2 of the 7 sacks thanks to Javone Hargrave and Cameron Heyward. The secondary also chipped in one sack by Joe Haden.
The stars on defense were Anthony Chickillo (2 sacks) & T.J. Watt (2 sacks and a interception). This was delivered with Stephon Tuitt on the sidelines with a bicep injury and Bud Dupree out with a shoulder injury. Not only did they respond to head coach Mike Tomlin's mantra "The Next Man Up", they delivered with big splash plays. Again major props to the special teams which kept the Browns at bay the whole game with great pressure on punts. Also great job by Antonio Brown for 11 catches and 184 yards, as well as Jesse James on the 2 red zone touchdowns.
This game still left me feeling cheated because of the Steelers past dominance of the Browns, but it should also be a warning for complacency. So now it's off to the Vikings, who is bringing in a tougher defense but a new O-line with 2 rookies starting and a first year player. And believe me they wont be laying down because they're playing the Steelers. They'll be more in the mood for a upset and to go 2-0 in the NFC North.
So Le'Veon, I hope you got some extra reps in practice this week and let's get this victory. My prediction for the game is 28-17 Steelers with another big helping of defense.