Steel City Underground presents our 2019 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.
In a game many will recall for Ben Roethlisberger leaving at halftime, and never returning for the rest of the season, there were actually several positives – and most which should’ve helped the Steelers overcome the Seahawks.
Instead, the Steelers dropped their second-straight game of the 2019 season, in their home opener at Heinz Field during Week 2.
The two-point loss had highlights, and lowlights.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was working on proving himself as the team’s new number one receiver after Antonio Brown flew the coop, had surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss as the youngest player to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history.
Through two games Smith-Schuster led the Steelers in receptions (11) and receiving yards (162).
Roethlisberger’s backup, second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, looked competent to carry the team. He would finish the day 12-of-19 for 112 yards with two touchdown passes.
Vance McDonald crushed the Seahawks defense with seven catches, two of those for touchdowns.
But it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. Rudolph had an interception which fell out of the "hands" (or lack thereof) of Donte Moncrief. The offense sputtered with Ben’s bad arm, punting in four of their five possessions.
The other required assistance from James Conner to punch the ball over the goal line due to Ben’s inability to be accurate. The offensive line only allowed one sack but the Steelers running game was otherwise anemic, with Conner tallying only 33 yards.
The defense was coming of age and mostly doing its job throughout too. Stephon Tuitt was a one-man wrecking machine with 2.5 sacks on a mobile Russell Wilson. T.J. Watt couldn’t be contained, and backup cornerback Cameron Sutton was targeted by the Seahawks offense, but he too showed up big with back-to-back big play tackles.
But it was small mistakes which made the team fall apart in the end.
Dan McCullers was penalized on a field goal attempt, which gave Seattle a new set of downs early in the game and allowed them to tie it at 7-all.
And maybe most famously, Pete Carroll won a pass interference challenge under the league’s new rules that was controversial. Terrell Edmunds basically breathed on Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett on a 3rd-and-20 play where Seattle sent out their punt unit to give the Steelers back the ball with around eight and a half minutes remaining in the game.
While the Steelers were trailing, they were only down by two points at that juncture. The new set of downs doomed the Steelers, as D.K. Metcalf would put the Seahawks up 28-19 with a little over seven minutes left to go.
The aftermath of the game was devastating. The Steelers would lose their starting quarterback (Roethlisberger) while falling to 0-2 in a division where many were already picking the Cleveland Browns (1-1) as preseason favorites to win it all, let alone the always-competitive Ravens (who jumped out to a 2-0 start).
There would be a lot of work to do as the future appeared bleak heading into a Week 3 road trip against a 2-0 San Francisco 49ers team that had blown out their first two opponents with a total of 72 points of offense through two games.