On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers made several game changing mistakes that could have cost them a win over the Denver Broncos, but Denver made a handful of costly mistakes of its own and the Steelers came away with a 26-21 win.
Pittsburgh improved its record to 2-0 while Denver fell to 0-2.
Steelers Pass Rushers Produce 7 Sacks
The tone was set early by Pittsburgh’s defense, which knocked Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock out of the game on Denver’s second possession when Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree sacked Lock and forced a fumble that was recovered by cornerback Mike Hilton.
Lock injured his throwing shoulder on the play and did not return. The second-year QB was seen in a sling after the game and told reporters his arm didn’t feel right when trying to throw after the hit.
“We’ll probably do an MRI on it,” he said, “… And yes, because it’s my throwing arm, there’s a little bit more caution in there.”
Lock was replaced by backup Jeff Driscol, who went on to complete 18 of 34 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
All in all, the Steelers defense recorded seven sacks, led by outside linebacker T.J. Watt, who finished with four tackles, 2.5 sacks and 4.5 quarterback hits.
As a result, the Steelers are well on their way to another season of 50+ sacks, which would set a new franchise record for most consecutive seasons with 50 or more sacks. No NFL team has had four consecutive seasons of 50+ sacks since the 1980s, when Lawrence Taylor and the New York Giants did it between 1985-88.
Steelers Rookie WR Chase Claypool Scores First NFL Touchdown
On the other side of the ball, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 29 of 41 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Nine different receivers caught passes, led by Diontae Johnson with eight catches for 92 yards.
But the biggest—and most spectacular play of the day—came courtesy of Steelers rookie receiver Chase Claypool, who hauled in an 84-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger, his first career TD reception.
Claypool finished with three catches for 88 yards but also made an impact on special teams, responsible for several tackles as part of the kick coverage teams.
Meanwhile, running back James Conner led the way on the ground, rushing 16 times for 106 yards, including a 59-yard scamper that essentially iced the game. It’s a good thing Conner was able to return from the ankle injury he suffered against the New York Giants, as backup running back Benny Snell had a woeful day, rushing three times for five yards and losing a costly fumble. He also caught one pass for -4 yards.
Penalties played an important role in enabling the Broncos to recover from a 17-3 deficit. The Steelers were penalized 10 times for 89 yards, including several costly pass interference penalties.
Pittsburgh will be back in action next Sunday afternoon, playing host to J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans.
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