PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers fall to 1-1 after a home opener loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
It wasn't a memorable day for the Steelers, but they aren't throwing it away. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this one is on him - and even if it's not - he's looking to learn from this Week 2 loss.
"We need everything. There's not one thing, it just starts with the quarterback and me, I have to be better," Roethlisberger said. "And once we get it figured out, that helps the run game, it helps the short passing game, the explosion plays. So, like I said, not watching it yet, I'll go back and watch it tonight, but just the feeling I have is I didn't play good enough."
There won't be many positives when they look back, but they definitely have to. From top to bottom, coaches included, this game was filled with rough spots and poor decisions.
This is what we took away.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Has Evolved
Smith-Schuster has grown year-to-year since entering the NFL, but this season is different. For the first time in his career, he has players around him that all play "their" position, leaving Smith-Schuster to play his.
Smith-Schuster is best when playing the middle of the field with the ability to break out and catch passes along the sideline. Najee Harris showed he's got some strength of his own with a great stiff arm, but Smith-Schuster is still the guy this team should trust to get first downs when needed.
Allowing No. 19 to play the slot and use his power and then utilize him in other ways like jet sweets near the goal line is only going to allow him to be better.
Matt Canada's offense is built perfectly for Smith-Schuster.
Big Ben Keeps Getting Hit
There's no chance Roethlisberger will last an entire season if he keeps getting hit like this. He's been sacked four times in two weeks, and it only seems to be getting worse. In Week 2, the Raiders got to him 10 times. 10. Times.
Big Ben might still be escaping the pocket and finding players downfield, but he's 39-years-old with two arthritic knees. These hits gotta hurt.
This offensive line is bad - much worse than last season - and if they don't get it turned around soon, their quarterback's last ride is going to end early. And that's before you even mention that it's costing this team games.
Zero Trust in Offensive Line
Tomlin was forced into a fourth and one situation with a little over seven minutes remaining in a two-score game and decided to punt the football. It was the wrong decision, but when your o-line is this detrimental to your team, you have to make poor decisions.
It's hard to say whether or not this can be fixed. Tomlin and the coaching staff are going to be put in a lot of bad spots this season because of the offense. Maybe, they'll figure out how to live around it, but chances are they can't until there's some improvement in the group.
In the meantime, it's going to lead to controversy—plenty of it.
Tomlin Lived in His Fears; Players Didn't Want to
Roethlisberger was asked if, after 18 seasons, he has the power to go up to Tomlin and say he'd like to go for it on fourth and one late in a ball game. He responded with, "Not when the punt team's running on the field."
Then, he was asked if he even had the opportunity to say anything. He responded, "You saw me. I'm standing there. I don't have a choice."
When asked if he wanted to go for it, he smiled and snickered.
Najee Harris had a similar attitude.
Tomlin is making the right decision because he has to. The offensive line has done nothing to prove it can keep a team alive even when it only needs to gain a single yard. That's a coach living in his fears, but those fears being extremely real.
With that being said, it's going to hurt the relationship between the head coach and the players.
That Last Play... Why?
The Steelers decided to run a final play even with the clock ticking to zero and the game being decided. Maybe in a video game, that's a good idea, but in Week 2 of the regular season, no one should be put at risk because of a coaching decision.
The move came back to bite the Steelers as wide receiver Diontae Johnson went down and was in noticeable pain. Tomlin said it's a knee injury, and he's being evaluated.
If Johnson misses time because of a play that didn't matter, that's on his head coach. It wasn't a good afternoon for Tomlin to begin with, but this was the nail in the coffin.
It feels like it's been a while since we've questioned his decision making this much in a single game.
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