It wasn’t the opening result that any of us hoped for……or expected.
The Steelers lost to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos 31-19. And in a painful reminder of how last season ended, Demaryius Thomas ran past Steelers defenders on a 71-yard touchdown reception.
There were some things that went well for the Steelers. For example, they held the ball for a full 14:24 in the third quarter. That left the Broncos with a mere 36 seconds to try to do any damage. Unfortunately, it was during that 36 seconds that Manning hit Demarius Thomas for that deja vu touchdown pass.
The defense also had a few positive moments, like the sacks by Larry Foote and Jason Worilds, and the fumble recovery by LaMarr Woodley. But overall, the positive points in the game were few.
New offensive coordinator Todd Haley probably didn’t have the debut that he was hoping for. His offense looked lackluster at times. For example, the Steelers were only able to rush for 32 yards on 15 attempts in the first half, despite the fact that at times it looked like they had completely abandoned the passing game. The offense only generated 75 rushing yards in the entire game.
The passing game looked very similar to what we saw in the preseason. It mainly consisted of Roethlisberger throwing quick, short passes. Gone were the long bombs downfield to Mike Wallace that had become so popular under former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. In fact, the only time the Steelers’ offense looked exciting was when Big Ben went to the no-huddle offense. That’s when he started slinging passes to Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
But there were a few things that looked far too familiar, and may prove to be a cause for concern. For example, Big Ben was sacked 5 times during the game. And the offensive line was plagued by injuries and often struggled during the game. And the offense seemed comfortable settling for field goals instead of touchdowns. And the Steelers’ cornerbacks often seemed completely incapable of defending the pass. They allowed Peyton Manning to complete 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and a 129.2 passer rating.
All of those things were problems that we thought would be fixed this year. But apparently, they’re still works in progress.
It’s only one game, so it’s much too early to get down on the Steelers. They have plenty of time to turn things around. But Mike Tomlin and the Steelers’ coaches are going to have plenty of things to try to fix before next week’s game against the New York Jets.
Notes: Offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Ramon Foster both left the game with injuries. Gilbert had a knee injury, and Foster suffered an eye injury.