By: Donny ChedrickThe Steelers are 2-0 for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2008, the season in which the Steelers collected their sixth Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 43. The offense looked better at Heinz Field than they did in Cleveland in Week 1, but after two early touchdowns, it stalled on a few occasions, allowing Chris Boswell to connect on four field goals in the 26-9 victory. The Steelers weren't perfect, but looked better than in Week 1. But as the team sits at 2-0, here are five things we can look at before the team heads to Chicago.
1. Limited Turnovers
Something we saw in last Sunday was the Steelers turning over the football. We didn't see that in the Week 2 victory over Minnesota at Heinz Field, however. The Steelers had the ball for over 34 minutes and kept possession for all 69 plays they had it. Cleaning up on offense is something vital to the Steelers throughout the season because as we all know too well, turnovers can kill a football team. On the other side, however, the defense only forced one turnover against an offense fronted by Case Keenum. A fumble that squandered away from the Vikings is all the Steelers were able to force defensively, but the D looked strong in its first home performance.
2. Defense looked improved
|Photo creds to Yahoo Sports|
Given the defense looked shaky at best against a rookie QB and the Cleveland Browns, Week 2 was a big improvement. This time they ran into another relatively inexperienced QB in the form of Case Keenum, but instead of a Mike Tomlin team playing down to a sub-par signal caller, they weren't going to let Keenum beat them in the home opener. Keenum threw for just 167 yards on the afternoon on 20 completed passes. The Steelers pass rush was quality, sacking Keenum twice while he ran around all afternoon. The run defense looked sharp as well as rookie Dalvin Cook rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries after an explosive Week 1 performance. If the defense can transition that performance into Chicago for Week 3, the Steelers should be looking at a 3-0 start.
3. Another solid home opener for Big Ben
|Photo creds to Observer-Reporter|
The franchise QB has always seemed to perform well in the home opener since he entered the league in 2004. Sunday was another one of those days. Roethlisberger finished with 243 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 23 of 35 passes. He connected on two first-half scores and did a good enough job moving the offense down the field on other drives that resulted in Chris Boswell field goals. Ben is notorious for having better games at home than on the road, so hopefully, we see him have a similar game against the Chicago Bears.
4. Lev Bell looked...a little better
|Photo creds to Steelers Wire|
87 yards on the ground for Le'Veon Bell on 27 carries averaged him out to just over three yards a carry. He had runs where he looked dead in his tracks, but others where he showed shades of his fine moments that we have grown accustomed to seeing. Breaking free on a few runs got people excited for what's to come in 2017 if Bell stays on the field, but he looked better than the lackluster Week 1 performance.
5. Bryant and Boswell are still Killer Bees
|Photo creds to Still Curtain|
The two guys that created a big difference in Sunday's victory were Martavis Bryant and Chris Boswell. Bryant was the Steelers' best receiver on the day, finishing with 91 yards on three catches and his first touchdown of the season. Boswell went four-for-four on field goals, which saved fantasy owners, and solidified the victory. People say a good kicking performance makes an offense look weak or overrated, but being able to count on a kicker can put a team to the next level.
It's hard to complain that the Steelers are 2-0, but Pittsburghers know it can always be better. The last time they started out with this record in back-to-back seasons, Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl. So the Steelers just might be on the stairway to seven.