How the Steelers opened their last five regular seasons

The Pittsburgh Steelers open the 2023 NFL regular season on Sunday, September 10, against the San Francisco Forty-Niners. The Steelers will host their first season opener in over five seasons at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh and are looking to get off to a hot start. Ahead of this weekend’s game, we look back at how the Steelers fared in their previous five regular-season openers.

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Steelers at Bengals (23-20 OT win)

11 September 2022: After hearing how Joe Burrow was “back” and looking like the next Joe Montana to set the league on fire again, there was plenty of trash-talking between Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers fans, as well as a little bulletin board material for the two AFC North rivals to talk about prior to the Steelers visiting Paycor Stadium.

It was the Steelers’ defense that earned the victory, despite their offense doing what they could. Early in the first quarter, Minkah Fitzpatrick intercepted a Burrow pass and returned it 31 yards for a touchdown (Boswell converted the PAT) to put Pittsburgh on top 7-0. In a near-constant style of harassment, the Steelers’ “D” rattled Burrow into throwing four interceptions in the game and took the young quarterback to the ground for seven sacks.

Mitchell Trubisky was able to get the offense down the field on one drive to dump a one-yard pass to Najee Harris for a touchdown, but the rest of the scoring came off of the foot of Boswell; his longest was a 53-yard field goal.

Burrow was able to throw two touchdown passes – one to Tyler Boyd and another to Ja’Marr Chase – but the remainder of the Bengals’ points came from kicker Evan McPherson in a very close 20-20 game that only ended in overtime due to the long Boswell field goal.

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Steelers at Bills (23-16 win)

12 September 2021: It doesn’t happen often, but Pittsburgh was able to wear their “home” jerseys as the visiting team versus the hosting Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Maybe that played a part in the team’s victory, but more likely it was the fact that the defense held Josh Allen to one score (a three-yard pass to Gabriel Davis) and forced a Tyler Bass field goal before halftime before Pittsburgh poured on the steam in the second half of the game. The Steelers also won the turnover battle in a major way.

Kicker Chris Boswell scored the first points for the Steelers with two field goals in the third quarter as the offense still battled to find rhythm in the game. With 11:19 left in the fourth quarter, Ben Roethlisberger was able to hit Diontae Johnson for a five-yard touchdown pass (Boswell converted the PAT). After Ulysees Gilbert blocked a Bills punt, Boswell was able to put six more points on the board. Boswell also hit a 45-yard field goal with just over two minutes left in the game to put the Steelers on top 23-13. Although Bass would kick a field goal to give the Bills six more points, there were less than 46 seconds left on the game clock and the Steelers walked away victorious.

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Steelers at Giants (26-16 win)

14 September 2020: The Steelers traveled to MetLife Stadium to take on the New York Giants and walked off the field with a ten-point victory. Although both teams were able to score field goals in the first quarter, and went scoreless in the third, it was Pittsburgh that outpaced New York in overall scoring in the second and fourth quarters.

Ben Roethlisberger was able to find JuJu Smith-Schuster (10-yard pass) and James Washington (13-yard pass) on back-to-back drives following Daniel Jones‘ 41-yard touchdown pass to Darius Slayton to put the score 16-10 in favor of the visiting team before halftime. Both Graham Gano and Boswell kicked field goals for their respective teams and were able to convert all but one of the PATs; Boswell missed the one following the Washington score.

In the second half, Smith-Schuster and Slayton both earned another touchdown catch on the day, but when the Giants tried to convert a two-point attempt on their final touchdown drive, they were unable to do so. With just over 1:30 left in the game, the ball was Pittsburgh’s to control until the game clock ticked down to the final whistle.

Jones threw two interceptions (one that Cameron Heyward grabbed) in the game and was sacked three times; Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, and Mike Hilton earned those sacks with one apiece. Things could have been uglier for the Steelers had they not recovered at least one of their three fumbles in the game. Ultimately, they won the turnover battle… barely. Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. carried the ball for 113 yards in the game.

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Steelers at Patriots (3-33 loss)

8 September 2019: In an iconic lead-up, it was once again time for Pittsburgh and New England to face off with veteran quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in a shoot-out once again. Unfortunately, Roethlisberger – who fans would later find out had injured himself seriously enough in the game to be replaced for the remainder of the season by Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges – had an off day. He completed 27-of-47 passing attempts for 276 yards, no touchdown passes, one interception, and had one fumble; he also took one sack.

The only points the Steelers scored in the game came from a 19-yard Chris Boswell field goal in the third quarter. James Conner was the primary rusher for Pittsburgh (10 carries for 21 yards and four-of-four catches for another 44 yards) while JuJu Smith-Schuster made six receptions for 78 yards to lead all Steelers receivers.

Brady threw touchdown passes to Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett, but the remainder of the Patriots’ points were thanks to the leg of kicker Stephen Gostkowski (four successful field goals and three PATs).

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Steelers at Browns (21-21 tie)

9 September 2018: Not only was this season opener a scrappy affair between two AFC North rivals, but home team Cleveland opted for the all-white gear and again the Steelers got to wear their home gear in front of fans that travel extremely well. The game will be remembered for how it all came down to the wire and resulted in a tie, but what may not be remembered is the fact that, before the game ended, the skies opened up and poured down. It wasn’t just a gentle sprinkling of rain, either. There were actually flooding concerns in the area.

Neither team got on the scoreboard in the first quarter. The Steelers put numbers on the scoreboard first thanks to a drive that resulted in a four-yard burst into the end zone by James Conner.

In the third quarter, Antonio Brown caught a 22-yard pass for a touchdown and Conner ran 22 yards for the third touchdown.

As for the Browns, their scores came from a 20-yard Tyrod Taylor run, a one-yard run by Carlos Hyde, and a 17-yard reception to Josh Gordon from Taylor. Both placekickers Chris Boswell and Zane Gonzalez were perfect during regulation.

What wasn’t perfect was that Boswell had the opportunity to seal the win with a successful field goal and missed during the overtime period.


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