The Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 regular season opening win over the Cleveland Browns certainly wasn’t very pretty, but it was a win nonetheless and the team will now enter Week 2 as co-leaders of the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens, who shutout the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday 20-0 on the road.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown caught all 11 passes thrown to him by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for 182 yards in the 21-18 win over the Browns and tight end Jesse James caught six passes for 41 yards with two of those ending in touchdowns.
The Steelers special teams unit got the scoring started early in the game as linebacker Tyler Matakevich blocked the Browns first punt of the contest and fellow linebacker Anthony Chickillo pounced on the loose football in the end zone to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead with 12:44 left in the opening frame.
The Steelers were able to overcome 13 total penalties for 144 yards in their Sunday win. Additionally, the Steelers offense only converted five of their 13 total third down opportunities during the game and running backs Le’Veon Bell and rookie James Conner combined to rush for just 43 yards on 14 total carries.
After a bit of a shaky start, Roethlisberger ended the game with 24 completions for 263 yards and that included his two touchdown passes to James. Roethlisberger, however, was intercepted inside the red zone by the Browns in the second half thanks to a tipped football that was intended for wide receiver Martavis Bryant, who ended the game with two receptions for 14 yards.
The Steelers offense averaged 5.4 yards per play in the win while the Browns offense averaged just 3.8 yards per play. Rookie Browns quarterback Deshone Kizer completed 20 of his 30 total pass attempts in his NFL debut for 222 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Kizer, however was sacked seven times by the Steelers defense on Sunday with rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt being credited for two of those. Watt also recorded the Steelers lone interception of Kizer in the second half.
As for the Ravens shutting out the Bengals, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco completed just nine of his 17 total pass attempts in the game for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His lone touchdown pass and 48 of his passing yards went to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin with 3:54 left in the first half and that score gave the Ravens a 10-0 lead.
Ravens running back Terrance West added a two-yard scoring run with three seconds remaining in the first half and Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker closed out the game scoring with his second field goal of the contest with 9:38 left in the third quarter. Tucker hit both of his field goals from 25 yards out.
The Ravens defense also intercepted Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton four times on Sunday and sacked him once. Dalton completed just 16 of his 31 total pass attempts in the game for 170 yards and fumbled once. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green caught five passes for 74 yards in the loss and three Cincinnati running backs combined to rush for 75 yards on 21 total carries.
In Week 2, the 1-0 Steelers will host the Minnesota Vikings, who will play their first game of 2017 Monday night against the New Orleans Saints. The 1-0 Ravens will host the 0-1 Browns next Sunday.