7 Steelers surprises in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots

Each week our SCU staff and contributors picks the “surprises” from the Pittsburgh Steelers latest matchup. Check out more below to see which plays and situations surprised us the most!

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the New England Patriots for their Week 2 home opener at the newly named Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers fell short to the Patriots by a final score of 17-14. Here are some of the surprises from that game.

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Sack Masters of None

The Steelers were unable to create much pressure on Mac Jones Sunday, following their sack fest of Joe Burrow (7 times) one week earlier at Cincinnati.

The major difference, again, was missing reigning Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, who was placed on Injured Reserve earlier in the week.

The Steelers have led or tied the NFL in sacks in each of the last five seasons. However, their league record 75 games with at least one sack was snapped, ironically, last season… by the Bengals.

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Minkah Magic

Minkah Fitzpatrick came away with another interception this week, for consecutive games in which the Steelers safety has picked off the competition.

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Mitch Tragic

The Steelers successor to Ben Roethlisberger, Mitchell Trubisky, was below the line on Sunday, particularly in the first half.

In the second half, Trubisky led a touchdown drive, but also stalled late, going 2-for-4 for 5 yards in the last two Steelers offensive series: they would go three-and-out in both to seal their fate.

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Third Down Offense

After going 4-of-15 (25%) on converting third downs against the Bengals, the Steelers completed 50% of their attempts, going 8-of-15 (53%) against the Patriots.

Among those calls included Najee Harris gaining four yards on a 3rd-and-1 and Derek Watt – a fullback! – receiving a handoff to convert another short yardage situation.

53% may not seem so promising, especially with an anemic offense, however it helped keep the defense a bit more fresh, especially compared with last week’s 17-minute time of possession differential.

Despite the offensive woes, perhaps this provides some hope over last year’s lack of third down proficiency, which saw the Steelers only convert more than 50% of their third down situations in three of their seventeen games. (Broncos, Chargers, and the second Bengals game, two of which were shootout/blowout contests.)

2021 CONV ATT PCT
Week 1 4 12 33.3%
Week 2 5 12 41.7%
Week 3 9 19 47.4%
Week 4 4 11 36.4%
Week 5 7 12 58.3%
Week 6 5 14 35.7%
Week 8 4 13 30.8%
Week 9 6 17 35.3%
Week 10 7 17 41.2%
Week 11 8 15 53.3%
Week 12 7 13 53.8%
Week 13 5 12 41.7%
Week 14 4 13 30.8%
Week 15 2 11 18.2%
Week 16 5 13 38.5%
Week 17 5 18 27.8%
Week 18 6 17 35.3%

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Gunner’s Muff

Disappointment is more of a proper term than surprise.

A 2020 First-Team All-Pro as a return specialist, no one would’ve imagined Gunner Olszewski muffing a punt. He has been nothing but sure-handed throughout the offseason, but this critical turnover was shocking – and gave New England a short field in which they took advantage of scoring a touchdown off of.

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Not So Offensive O-Line

Pay no mind to the naysayers out there who are clinging to the preseason narrative that the Steelers offensive line is bad. It’s honestly not even poor, in most cases, as Mitchell Trubisky even claimed ownership of two of the three sacks he took on Sunday. (By moving up in the pocket and into pressure.)

The Steelers line has been especially strong in pass protection, giving Trubisky time to attempt to make his reads.

RG James Daniels is only one of five offensive lineman in the league to not give up a single pressure this season – that’s telling, as the Steelers have played an additional quarter of football as well, with the overtime period in Cincy.

As for the run game, several film analysts (and even former players) have pointed out that the line is doing its job, but perhaps Najee Harris isn’t seeing the field properly.

In Najee’s defense he has been dealing with a foot injury since the preseason and may not be in top form. Unfortunately, that’s not good news for the Steelers offense…

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Did we mention the offense is bad?

Let the stats speak for itself!

  • 30th in yards
  • 31st in yards-per-play
  • 28th in passing
  • 32nd in passing yards-per-attempt
  • 26th in rushing
  • 24th in rushing yards-per-attempt
  • 26th in plays run
  • 31st in first downs
  • 24th in Red Zone percentage

In addition, the Steelers offensive drives are as follows through two games, nine quarters of football:

  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Field Goal
  • Touchdown
  • Punt
  • End of Half
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • Field Goal
  • Punt
  • Punt
  • End of Half
  • Punt
  • Missed FG
  • Field Goal
  • Punt
  • Interception
  • Field Goal
  • Punt
  • End of Half
  • Field Goal
  • Touchdown
  • Punt
  • Punt

That’s right folks. The Steelers offense has only scored two touchdowns on 24 total drives.

They have settled for five field goals while punting exactly half (12 times) of their total possessions.

It has to get better…

One response to “7 Steelers surprises in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots”

  1. Dave Dubois says:

    Lotsa yuck there!

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