5 Steelers surprises in Monday’s win against the Browns

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 Monday night the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Cleveland Browns for their Week 2 matchup at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers improved to a 1-1 record with a 26-22 victory. Here are some of the surprises from that game.

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No redzone trips

The Steelers had no trips to the redzone on Monday Night Football, on account of larger splash plays which accounted for their scoring.

The longest Steelers drive lasted nine plays and ended in a field goal. None of their other 13 drives lasted more than six total plays.

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100-yard receiver

George Pickens is the first Steelers wide receiver to top 100 yards in a game since… Pickens.

The second-year pro accomplished the 100-yard feat last in Week 4 of the 2022 season against the New York Jets (102 yards). He had 4 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown on Monday night.

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New franchise sacks leader

T.J. Watt became the Steelers all-time on Monday with 81.5 career sacks.

Anyone betting on football would’ve realized Watt would hold this record soon. He entered the 2023 season needing only 3.5 sacks to surpass James Harrison, doing so in 89 fewer games.

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Highsmith surging

Watt’s outside linebacker counterpart, Alex Highsmith, had a game for the ages on Monday too. After landing a contract extension this offseason, the Steelers saw their newly minted edge rusher pay dividends with a pick-six on the first play of the game.

Highsmith would also register a strip-sack in the fourth quarter which led to a Watt “scoop and score” for the game-winning touchdown.

He was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week.

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Gunner’s gaffes

In his second season with the Steelers, WR/KR Gunner Olszewski’s name has become a household one with fans for all of the wrong reasons. That compounded in the game against Cleveland, as Gunner took over kick return duties for an injured Anthony McFarland Jr. Following a Browns field goal on their second series, we were poised to see the Steelers offense for the first time that evening.

Browns kicker Dustin Hopkins sent the ensuing kickoff sailing, short of the goal line but near the sidelines. Rather than allow the ball to take a hop – and out of bounds – Olszewski caught the pass in-bounds while stepping out, starting Kenny Pickett’s squad at their own nine-yard line.

Special teams coordinator Danny Smith has to be irate as the mistake cost the Steelers a starting position on their own 40 – a touchback plus the 15-yard penalty for going out-of-bounds on a kickoff.

Later in the same first quarter, Gunner fumbled on the second play from scrimmage, giving the Browns the ball on the Steelers 23. They would score a few plays later, taking an 11-7 lead.

Gunner would be removed from the game due to a potential concussion. However, there’s a strong feeling his time in Pittsburgh could be numbered due to these critical game-changing mistakes.

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