Previewing the first quarter of the Steelers' 2019 regular season schedule | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt reacts after sacking Jeff Driskel of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 of the 2018 NFL regular season

The Pittsburgh Steelers will open the 2019 NFL regular season against an AFC nemesis in the New England Patriots on the road in Foxborough and finalize the first quarter of the season hosting the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field. In this preview, we'll look at the teams the Steelers will face, additions they made via the 2019 NFL Draft, and other factors that could play a part in how successful Pittsburgh begins their upcoming season.

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In their December 16 showdown in 2018, the Steelers were able to outscore the Patriots, 17-10, and secure a win over a team that has been a hindrance to the Steelers' dreams to return to the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh limited Tom Brady to just one touchdown and prevented any Patriots rushers from getting into the end zone. Conversely, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes, including a toss to tight end Vance McDonald. Jaylen Samuels rushed for 142 yards on 19 carries. Joe Haden led the defense with eight tackles and an interception while T.J. Watt earned one sack on Brady.

The Steelers look to take things a step farther in 2019, determining their own destiny rather than hoping that a call by an official and another team's win (or loss) isn't what gets them to the championship game. While some feel the window is all but closed on the Steelers' Super Bowl chances, former Super Bowl champion Michael Bennett, who signed with the Patriots after becoming a three-time Pro Bowler with the Seattle Seahawks, disagrees. "I think that window's still open," Bennett said on an episode of "First Things First" on April 29. "James [Conner] gives them that identity back to 'We're gonna pound the ball', we're gonna pound it again and then we're gonna throw it.'" Defensively, Bennett said he sees the addition of Devin Bush to a Steelers defense with a history of great linebackers is "like the holy grail."

With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan moving on in free agency, the Patriots grabbed N'Keal Harry with their first-round pick as a target for Brady. They also addressed holes in their offensive line and defense.

  • No. 32: N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
  • No. 45: Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
  • No. 77: Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan
  • No. 87: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
  • No. 101: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia
  • No. 118: Hjalte Froholdt, G, Arkansas
  • No. 133: Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
  • No. 159: Byron Cowart, DT, Maryland
  • No. 163: Jake Bailey, P, Stanford
  • No. 252: Ken Webster, CB, Mississippi

The Patriots also added rookie free agent Xavier Ubosi (WR, University of Alabama-Birmingham) as well as fellow rookie free agents Calvin Anderson (OL, Texas), Andrew Beck (TE, Texas), Nick Brossette (RB, LSU), Ryan Davis (WR, Auburn), Malik Gant (S, Marshall), Tyler Gauthier (OL, Miami 'Fla'), Terez Hall (LB, Missouri), Jakobi Meyers (WR, North Carolina State), D'Angelo Ross (DB, New Mexico), and Tyree St. Louis (OL, Miami 'Fla' ).

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The last time these two teams met was in 2015 (Nov. 29). To say that things have changed on both squads is an understatement. During the 2015 game, the Steelers traveled to Seattle and lost to Russell Wilson and company, 30-39. Roethlisberger, in his first career visit to Seattle, threw for 456 yards but was sacked twice, fumbled a ball, was intercepted twice, and was pulled with the final two minutes in the game left on the clock and placed in the concussion protocol. Wilson threw a career-high five touchdown passes, including two TDs to Doug Baldwin in the final 8:12, and the Seahawks held on for a wild win.

These teams have faced off 18 times the series is split 9:9. Their lone post-season meeting was in Super Bowl XL (Feb. 5, 2006), which the Steelers won, 21-10.

After trading Frank Clark, it wasn't a surprise that Seattle grabbed a defensive end as their first selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. They then addressed their defensive secondary due to the hole Earl Thomas left. Baldwin may not be able to play all season - in fact, his career could be near the end - so Seattle grabbed three receivers as targets for Wilson and added depth with their remaining picks.

  • No. 29: L.J. Collier, DE, TCU
  • No. 47: Marquise Blair, S, Utah
  • No. 64: D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
  • No. 88: Cody Barton, LB, Utah
  • No. 120: Gary Jennings Jr., WR, West Virginia
  • No. 124: Phil Haynes, OL, Wake Forest
  • No. 132: Ugochukwu Amadi, S, Oregon
  • No. 142: Ben Burr-Kiven, LB, Washington
  • No. 204: Travis Homer, RB, Miami (Fla)
  • No. 209: Demarcus Christmas, DT, Florida State
  • No. 236: John Ursua, WR, Hawaii

Seattle was able to sweep the Arizona Cardinals to secure a playoff berth in 2018. They lost the Jan. 5, wild-card game to the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium (Arlington, TX), 22-24. The Seahawks have kept their competitions with the Steelers competitive, for the most part, and this week two matchup should be a good look at two teams who would love to see a Super Bowl rematch and a bit of redemption.

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Like NFC West opponent Seattle, the last time the Steelers played against the San Francisco 49ers was in 2015 (Sept. 20). Heath Miller and De'Angelo Williams were a big part of the 43-18 win for Pittsburgh. Ryan Shazier led all Steelers defenders with 15 total tackles and Stephon Tuitt posted 1.5 sacks. In the series, the 49ers lead 11:10, but the Steelers lead in scoring, 447:409.

The 49ers had an abysmal season in 2018. They were only able to secure four wins and scored just 342 points to their opponents' 435. They were 0-8 on the road, 4-4 at home.

In the past five years, the 'Niners have used their top pick on a defensive lineman four times. In 2019, they grabbed Nick Bosa to help out DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas. Everyone in the league knew they'd look to add help at the wide receiver position, as well, however.

  • No. 2: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
  • No. 36: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
  • No. 67: Jaylen Hurd, WR, Baylor
  • No. 110: Mitch Wishnowski, P, Utah
  • No. 148: Dee Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
  • No. 176: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
  • No. 183: Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt
  • No. 198: Tim Harris, CB, Virginia

The 49ers didn't grab much help for their defensive secondary in free agency or the draft, but the team reportedly believes they will grow internally. They did add linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and running back Austin Walter to short-term deals this week. They added the following rookie free agents as well: LB Azeez Al-Shaair, S Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, DL Jamell Garcia-Williams, DL Kevin Givens, S Cameron Glenn, WR Malik Henry, TE Tyree Manfield, WR Shawn Poindexter, G Ross Reynolds, and QB Wilton Speight. With OTAs beginning, more moves may be made as San Francisco hopes to dig itself out of the hole they put themselves into in 2018.

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The Steelers wrapped up their regular season in 2018 with a three-point win over the Bengals at Heinz Field. While James Conner gained 64 yards on 14 carries, the only player on offense to get into the end zone was JuJu Smith-Schuster on an 11-yard toss from Roethlisberger. The top scorer for Pittsburgh was kicker Matt McCrane. The Bengals relied on Joe Mixon's running while Jeff Driskel took the snaps. Cincinnati was only able to score off the leg of Randy Bullock and an interception return by Shawn Williams. After the game, the Steelers stayed on the field to see if they'd sneak into the playoffs due to a win by the Cleveland Browns. They didn't.

The Steelers swept the Bengals in 2018 and lead this series 64-35-0, but people are talking about the Bengals' 2019 Draft class and what Cincinnati might look like in the AFC North this season. While Andy Dalton is OC Brian Callahan's guy, the team did add Ryan Finley. The Bengals needed a stronger offensive line in order to keep whoever is calling plays in better shape, and they wasted no time in grabbing Jonah Williams to put with Cordy Glenn and newly re-signed Bobby Hart. They may have also grabbed Tyler Eifert's eventual replacement in Drew Sample. With Mark Walton released due to off-the-field issues, they also added running back depth.

  • No. 11: Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
  • No 52: Drew Sample, TE, Washington
  • No. 72: Germaine Pratt, EDGE, NC State
  • No. 104: Ryan Finley, QB, NC State
  • No. 125: Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State
  • No. 136: Michael Jordan, C-G, Ohio State
  • No. 182: Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
  • No. 210: Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn
  • No. 211: Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
  • No. 223: Jordan Brown, CB, South Dakota State

Landing at the bottom of the AFC North was not what the Bengals were hoping 2018's regular season would offer them. Expect them to try to crawl out in their Week Four meeting with the Steelers in 2019. These two teams have a level of hard feelings that should continue as they look to make their first stand in the division in this matchup.


Week Opponent Location
1 New England Patriots Foxborough, Mass
2 Seattle Seahawks Pittsburgh, PA
3 San Francisco 49ers Santa Clara, CA
4 Cincinnati Bengals Pittsburgh, PA
5 Baltimore Ravens Pittsburgh, PA
6 Los Angeles Chargers Carson, CA
8 Miami Dolphins Pittsburgh, PA
9 Indianapolis Colts Pittsburgh, PA
10 Los Angeles Rams Pittsburgh, PA
11 Cleveland Browns Cleveland, OH
12 Cincinnati Bengals Cincinnati, OH
13 Cleveland Browns Pittsburgh, PA
14 Arizona Cardinals Glendale, AZ
15 Buffalo Bills Pittsburgh, PA
16 New York Jets East Rutherford, NJ
17 Baltimore Ravens Baltimore, MD

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