If you enjoy torture in multiple forms, then the Pittsburgh Steelers victory against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night must've been a treat for you. Who doesn't love a good home primetime game where Geno Smith nearly beats you in his first start since 2017?
While it wasn't pretty, the Steelers got the job done on the right foot of Chris Boswell in overtime. With ice in his veins, Boswell buried a 52-yard field goal on the Steelers' final possession in regulation, only for the Seahawks to tie and force overtime with no time on the clock. That preceded a 36-yard field goal in overtime which raised the Steelers to 3-3 as they head into the bye week.
Oh, but there is so much to discuss as always. Without further ado, let us begin, shall we?
Second Half Run Defense Was Concerning
With Geno Smith at quarterback, the Seahawks' ability to move the ball was hamstring significantly compared to their typical Russell Wilson-led offense. Or at least we thought.
The Pittsburgh Steelers allowed zero points in the first half. It was an impressive showing in what looked to be on its way towards a blowout. There wasn't much in the way of offense. Come halftime, the Seahawks flipped a switch.
Seattle ripped off big gain after big gain on their way to making it a ball game in the third quarter. They rode Alex Collins and Travis Homer all the way down the field on multiple occasions.
Finally, late in the fourth, the Steelers began to snuff it out and make some stops. They prevented the big gainers in overtime and were able to pull out the win.
Watt, Heyward are DPOY Front-Runners
Watt filled the stats sheet on Sunday night with sacks and tackles for losses and pass defenses. He couldn't quite get home on anything until overtime where he had two sacks and forced the fumble that sealed the deal for Pittsburgh. He was incredible.
Yet, Heyward managed to be the best player on the field over the course of the night.
Heyward had a sack, two tackles for a loss, and a team-leading nine tackles overall. Heyward and Watt are the heart and soul of this defense. Without them, I shudder to think where they'd be defensively.
The season is very young. A lot of things can happen the rest of the way. But there is no reason why those guys aren't very much top-5 contenders for Defensive Player of the Year currently. Losing three starters defensively - four if you count Stephon Tuitt - didn't help. Heyward and Watt are playing tremendous football, and they're going to have to keep it up if the Steelers want any chance.
Steelers Making the Effort to Involve Harris
With each passing week, Najee Harris shows his maturity as an NFL player. This week it took 30 total touches, but Harris had 127 all-purpose yards. Everything Harris touched in the first half seemed destined to be similar to the first few weeks where he couldn't go anywhere.
Now, it feels like anytime Harris touches it, he can break off a big run or big play off a catch out of the backfield. He's proving that first-round selection to be a fair one.
Say what you will, but Harris' 388 rushing yards ranks eighth among ball carriers in the league. His 632 all-purpose yards ranks similarly in 8th among skill players
While they still gave him 24 carries on Sunday, being without JuJu Smith-Schuster certainly doesn't help. With Smith-Schuster on IR and expected to miss the season, Harris' receiving volume and value should go up.
Roethlisberger Back to Being Shaky
Big Ben was back at it again on prime time. He made a couple of big throws over the course of the game, but the overall body of work was not inspiring. Roethlisberger seemed to miss a couple throws which likely would've caused some major backlash.
He practically hit Jamal Adams right in the mouth with a pass that was dropped. Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson dropped a few balls they arguably could've caught, though.
Something is off about Roethlisberger. It could be just pure age. Father Time is eventually gonna get Ben. Quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan suggested last week that Roethlisberger has some sort of mechanical malfunction that they've since addressed.
Roethlisberger will have to be on his a-game. And I have a feeling he will be.
Much-Needed Bye Week
Depending on who you ask, Week 7 might be a tad too early. However, you can never get too far ahead of yourself. They've got a short trip to Cleveland right after the break and then come back home to play Chicago. Those are two winnable games.
The Steelers will use it to try and get healthy. Roethlisberger is banged up. Tuitt and Zach Banner haven't played yet. Other players are banged up and bruised.
The Steelers can clear their heads and try to make the second half of the season memorable. A few wins strung together out of the bye would make them a legitimate threat in the AFC. That is very weird to think about at this point after that loss.
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