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No real surprises in Steelers win over the Giants at MetLife Stadium

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 8:30am
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Not many surprises as the Steelers knock off the Giants, 26-16, at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football to kickoff their 2020 campaign.

There were many unknowns as the Steelers prepared for the 2020 regular season opener against the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Monday Night Football.

For starters, how would their returning franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, look after being sidelined for almost exactly one year with a major elbow injury? How would the team perform as a whole after an offseason that was unlike any other and didn’t include OTAs, rookie camp and mini-camp. As far as training camp? That didn’t include much news that wasn’t process, filtered and censored.

But if you were like me and expected Monday night’s season lid-lifter to start off slow and then pick up steam as the game progressed, you were not surprised by the Steelers 26-16 victory and workmanlike performance.

It was a game that went pretty much according to plan for a veteran team expected to return to its former contender form and was taking on a squad coming off a four-win season and doing so with a new coaching staff and a youthful quarterback.

It wasn’t a work of art, but the Steelers didn’t color outside the lines at an alarming rate, either.

There were some special teams gaffes, including a fumbled punt by second-year receiver Diontae Johnson early on that set the Giants up at Pittsburgh’s own three-yard line and delayed the 2020 debut of Roethlisberger’s surgically-repaired right elbow.

But no surprise, Pittsburgh’s defense, one that’s expected to be about as dominant as it was in 2019, clamped down and held the Giants to a measly field goal.

The offense was sluggish at the start, as Roethlisberger and his receiving targets were a bit out of sync early—that couldn’t have been a surprise to many—and the unit failed to move the football at an efficient rate for most of the first half.

Before I move forward, I must say that Roethlisberger’s elbow, while a bit rust early on, looked pretty darn good the entire night, as he made throws from the pocket, on the move and while being accosted by Giants defenders (vintage Big Ben).

The Giants jumped out to an early 10-3 lead on a drive that was aided greatly by a questionable pass-interference call on cornerback Joe Haden—questionable pass interference calls on Joe Haden are never a surprise these days. But just when it looked like the home team would seize control in front of its virtual fans (no fans were allowed to attend MetLife Stadium, so they had to cheer their G-Men on from their living rooms), T.J. Watt made his first of what should be many herculean plays in 2020 when he jumped up at the line of scrimmage to snag a Daniel Jones pass and set his team up at New York’s 36-yard line early in the second quarter.

Roethlisberger took advantage of the gift by ultimately finding receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Yes, Chris Boswell missed the extra point, but judging by the way kickers were misfiring all around the NFL in Week 1, I guess that really wasn’t much of a surprise, even if Boswell didn’t miss any PATs in 2019.

After that, it really was all Steelers.

The defense was pretty dominant. It allowed some plays, but this is the NFL—that’s going to happen. Overall, the pass-rush was relentless, led by outside linebacker Bud Dupree who didn’t record any of Pittsburgh’s three quarterback sacks but seemed to be in Jones’ hip-pocket all night and provided the pressure that forced the errant throw that defensive lineman Cameron Heyward intercepted in the end zone late in the third quarter. That’s right, just when it looked like New York would go back in front after the Steelers had built a 16-10 lead on a Roethlisberger to James Washington 13-yard touchdown right before halftime, the defense, one that had bent a little over the course of the first 18 plays of a drive that had covered 87 yards and ate up nearly nine minutes of clock, ultimately broke the Giants back with yet another goal-line stand.

After last year, multiple goal-line stands by this defense are never a surprise.

Overall, the defense allowed 291 yards, but only 29 on the ground, including a mere six by running back Saquon Barkley (okay, that may have been a bit of a surprise).

As for the Steelers offense, it wasn’t perfect, but it appeared to get stronger as the game went along. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 32 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Smith-Schuster who, SURPRISE, looked really good catching passes from a franchise quarterback.

It wasn’t a great night for James Conner who carried the football just six times for nine yards and left the game with an ankle injury. Unfortunately, Conner getting hurt wasn’t much of a surprise. Hopefully, he gets well soon, but if he’s out a while, the ground game appears to be in good hands after second-year back Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 113 yards on 19 carries.

The only depressing part of Monday’s game for Steelers fans was the news that the team lost two of its offensive linemen to injuries. Zach Banner, who rose to the challenge to win the starting right tackle job at training camp, left the game late in the fourth quarter with a knee injury that, as of this writing, looks pretty darn serious. Also, Stefen Wisniewski, a veteran who was signed by Pittsburgh in the offseason to provide great depth along the interior line, suffered a pectoral injury after spending most of the night playing well at right guard in place of an injured David DeCastro.

Hopefully, the news on both is of the good variety.

As for the rest of the Steelers team? I think their performance on Monday night was a nice little preview of what to expect in 2020.

No surprise, the Steelers are contenders again.

Report Card: Grading the Steelers win over the Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 7:30am
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Breaking down the success and failures of Pittsburgh’s Week 1 performance.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they came into their opening game of the 2020 season with an opportunity to do many things, one of which was to make a statement about who they are and who they can be this year. It’s always a positive to start the season off with a victory celebration, but this is only the first step of a very long path to a hopeful playoff berth among other things. So how did the Steelers do tonight?

Let’s dive in and hash it out .

OFFENSE: C-

I won’t lie, five minutes into the game I saw this grade as an F, so I’ll get the negative out of the way first. The first quarter was riddled with issues. It was great to see Ben Roethlisberger take his first hit and throw his first pass. However, the very first thing we saw from this offense was ineptitude. James Conner couldn’t gain any yardage, the Steelers came out with the typical “Randyland” Run, Run, Pass offense with an uninspiring 3 & out.

Outside of the occasional completed pass, the first quarter was atrocious. For the media-driven hype about this offense during training camp, I was very disappointed early on. Fans witnessed a game where the offensive line struggled, Roethlisberger held the ball too long, and the Steelers lacked a run game in the early portions of the contest. Despite the success by Benny Snell Jr., the fumble could have been devastating. Diontae Johnson also looked out of sorts early. The first two and a half quarters of play calling was a horror show. On top of a poor first half, in the 3rd quarter, there didn’t seem to be any offensive adjustments.

Now the good. As the rust came off, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Roethlisberger, Snell, and others started to wake up. Chase Claypool had a great sideline catch, Smith-Schuster had a couple of touchdown passes and a heads up fumble recovery and James Washington might have actually had the most impressive touchdown catch of anyone in this game. Washington fought for every extra yard he needed through two potential tacklers to score a huge touchdown. Smith-Schuster caught everything passed his way. Snell, when finally given the reigns, really turned it on in this game with some huge runs. Eric Ebron had a very nice catch and run, and Roethlisberger had a good run himself. Zach Banner did admirable early at right tackle despite some issues on the offensive line.

A couple player grades:

Ben Roethlisberger: A-
For the first game in a year, his play was admirable.

Benny Snell: B+
Can’t be putting the ball on the ground.

James Conner: F
Not only was he not productive, he didn’t even make it though the first week without being injured.

Juju Smith-Schuster: A+
He is Back!

James Washington:
A if he had only had that 1 catch for a TD that would’ve been enough.

Diontae Johnson: B-
The beginning of this game was a nightmare. He calmed down and became productive.

Receivers (including TEs): A-
Overall very good, but still room for improvement.

Offensive Line: C+
This was a rough night for the line when it came to protecting Roethlisberger, although the quarterback was responsible for at least one sack. However in the fourth quarter the run blocking improved greatly.

When the dust settled, the Steelers got the win, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Having said that, we got to see glimpses of where this team could be great as the season progresses and perhaps only Randy Fichtner can hold them back.

What grade would you give the offense? Let us know in the poll below:

DEFENSE: A+

I am in no way suggesting there isn’t room for improvement with the defense, having said that, while the sack numbers weren’t really there this defense was flying all over the place.

The one thing I didn’t like defensively is the soft zone coverage where the unit kept giving up chunk yardage to Giants’ receivers. Terrell Edmunds had a mediocre game, yes he had a lot of tackles, but he also had several missed tackles including one on the big Saquon Barkley catch and run. Vince Williams came to play, that punishing sack on Jones injected a lot of juice into the defense. The secondary, despite the soft coverage, played well. I don’t care about the touchdown Steven Nelson gave up because it never should have happened. The Defensive Pass Interference call on Joe Haden prior to that play could not have been more bogus.

The other touchdown late was the result of Prevent Defense.

Turnovers, how about T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward?! Both excellent plays and the Heyward interception was a result of the continued great play of Bud Dupree. Devin Bush did a great job on Barkley throughout the game. The fact Saquon Barkley had next to nothing on the ground was a victory in this game for the defense. In fact, prior to this game a couple members of the BTSC team suggested the key to victory was exactly that, limiting Saquon; yes I’m looking at you Michael Beck and Geoffrey Benedict.

While Minkah Fitzpatrick had a quiet game, he did exactly what he needed to do. Daniel Jones simply stuck with passes away from Fitzpatrick in this game, Many of their completions were underneath, or near Edmunds. The defense, even from the start of the game, appeared to be continuing where they left off last season. Fans saw some big plays in the passing game by the Giants, but that was the only way the New York offense was even able to move the ball. The Steelers’ defensive line dominated the Giants’ offensive line in the run game and created turnovers by way of pressure. Limiting the passing game moving forward seems to be the primary area where the defense can improve, and you have to assume the defense will start getting to the quarterback sooner, rather than later.

What grade would you give the Steelers defense? Let us know in the poll below:

SPECIAL TEAMS: C

The Steelers’ special teams started off with what was an extremely bone-headed fumble by Diontae Johnson. He followed that up with an awkward fall to the ground on the next punt return, and later another weird in-traffic fair catch. Chris Boswell missed a PAT that, while annoying, wasn’t as bad as the kickoff out of bounds which shouldn’t happen. Newcomer Dustin Colquitt isn’t a booming punter, so some made a lot out of the less than 40 yard punt average in this game. Where Colquitt thrives is hit ability to kick high and limit returns. The issue Monday was Jabrill Peppers isn’t a guy that typically calls for a fair catch and the first guy was consistently missing tackles on kick teams. The special teams overall had a mediocre day. It could have been worse, but it has to be better moving forward.

What grade would you give the Steelers’ special teams? Let us know by voting in the poll below:

Coaching Staff: C-

I gave you the grade now let me break this down for you...

Mike Tomlin: A
I don’t feel the Steelers were playing down to anyone. I think Daniel Jones performed better than anyone expected, and the defense didn’t get to the quarterback consistently. The timeout near the end of the first half before getting the ball back was a little confusing, but ultimately didn’t matter.

The one thing that keeps me from giving Tomlin an A+ is the decision not to have your full 48 allowed active players. It simply doesn’t make any sense.

Randy Fichtner: F
The defense bailed him out of his terrible play calling. The defense, and the simple fact the Steelers have a lot of offensive talent. The run, run, pass telegraphed offense and calling awkward flat passing plays on 3rd & 1 instead of running it up the gut with Snell as just a few examples. It seems the Steelers won this game despite of Fichtner.

Keith Butler: C
I would be willing to give him a better grade if not for the soft zone the defense ran a large majority of the game. Thankfully, the Steelers have enough talent to make plays when it matters most. Also, in the fourth quarter, Dupree could have dialed down the blitz a bit. It’s easy to give him a pass because Bud Dupree helped force a Heyward turnover, but the fact is Jones used the defensive aggression against them for much of that drive, and Butler did not adjust.

Danny Smith: C
I hold Smith responsible for not making a change to the Punt Return situation.

How would you grade the coaching staff in Week 1? Let us know by voting in the poll below:

In closing, this was a sloppy win, but one that follows an offseason unlike the NFL has ever seen. There is a lot of room for improvement, but it was great to see the band back together again. The ability to create turnovers and fight through adversity is there. There was enough optimism in this game to build on.

Now the team must prepare for Denver Broncos.

Analyzing the Steelers Week 1 win over the Giants, by the numbers

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 6:30am
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It was a very balanced attack in Ben Roethlisberger’s return.

It was a very long time since the Pittsburgh Steelers set foot on a football field in game action. In fact, it was exactly 260 days since their last contest. But the Pittsburgh Steelers finally got back on the field and back to their winning ways as they were able to defeat the New York Giants 26-16 on Monday Night Football.

So here are some of the numbers which helped lead to the Steelers win on Monday night at the Meadowlands.

30; 34

Pittsburgh Steelers had a very balanced attack on Monday night where they had 30 rushing attempts and 34 pass plays. Of course, these numbers could be tweaked just a little bit as the Steelers attempted 32 passes and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice. Additionally, during the first drive of the game, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass and actually threw the ball backwards to James Conner which made it rushing play.

Regardless, it was the first time the Steelers had 30 official rushing attempts in a game with Ben Roethlisberger as quarterback since Week 10 of 2018 against the Carolina Panthers.

113

There were several reasons the Steelers rushed the ball so much on Monday night. First, they were winning the game in the second half. Second, Benny Snell Jr. rushed the ball very effectively as he had 113 yards on 19 carries. Yes, Snell did have one fumble after a 21-yard gain, but fortunately teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster pounced on the ball and the Steelers kept possession.

28

One key play early in the game was the first NFL reception by Steelers 2020 second-round draft pick Chase Claypool. With Roethlisberger throwing the ball to the sidelines, it was a 28-yard completion where Claypool did an excellent job of getting his feet down inbounds and securing the ball. Not only was it impressive as his first catch, it was the Steelers first third down conversion of the game on a 3rd & 9 on their own 33 yard line.

6

One of the biggest keys to the game for the Steelers was containing running back Saquon Barkley. With Barkley only gaining 6 rushing yards on 15 attempts, saying the Steelers contained the former number two overall draft pick would be an understatement. In fact, if it were not for a pass play where the ball actually travel backwards to Barkley and he gained 7 yards, he would’ve ended the night with a negative rushing total.

58 & 24

The Steelers extended two league-leading strikes on Monday night. The first one is not one they want to be known for which is 24 straignt games with at least one turnover. Ironically, this occurred before the offense even stepped foot on the field when Diontae Johnson muffed the first punt of the game.

The other streak which continued for the Steelers was 58 regular season games with at least one sack. In all, the Steelers had three sacks on the night with one each by Vince Williams, Stephon Tuitt, and Mike Hilton.

9

The Steelers managed to force two turnovers against the Giants, and both were interceptions by members of the defensive front. The Steelers two defensive captains of T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward each managed to get an interception in the game. For Heyward, it was the first of his career.

From those two turnovers, the Steelers turned them into 9 points. The Steelers turned T.J. Watts interception into a touchdown but only netted six points as Chris Boswell missed the PAT. After the Heyward interception, the Steelers were able to move the ball 62 yards and get a field goal. With the interception occurring in the end zone, it is impressive the Steelers both kept their opponent from scoring points and gained points themselves on the Heyward interception.

3/21

It was expected by most fans for the Steelers to have some sloppy play with no preseason games in order to prepare. But when it came to penalties, the Steelers were only officially flagged 3 times for 21 yards.

Technically there was another penalty against the Steelers when Chris Boswell had a kickoff out of bounds where the Giants were awarded the ball at the 40 yard line, but it officially does not go into the books as a penalty. The only penalty on the offense was a delay of game penalty when the Steelers thought the play clock had reset. Ironically, it went into the books as a 4-yard penalty because they were facing a 3rd & 1 which was really 3rd & inches. Once the 5 yards were marked off, it turned it into a 3rd & 5 so the statistics mark it as a 4-yard penalty.

The other two penalties on the Steelers were a 12-yard pass interference on Joe Haden which should not have been called, and a 5-yard defensive holding against Steven Nelson late in the fourth quarter.

6

Although this had nothing to do with the Steelers’ win on Monday night, it’s such an encouraging number it needed to be included. After waiting 260 days between games, there is only 6 days until the Steelers face off against the Denver Broncos on Sunday at 1 PM.

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Monday night against the Giants. While it took the Steelers some time to get going and gain the lead, eventually the numbers balanced out and the Steelers cruised to a 10-point victory even after giving up a late garbage-time touchdown.

Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.

Post-Game Podcast: Ben is back as the Steelers beat the Giants 26-16

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 5:30am

Join BTSC for immediate reaction after the Steelers 2020 opener against the New York Giants

The Pittsburgh Steelers started off rusty in their 2020 season opener. Then Ben Roethlisberger shook it off and the defense put the hammer down as the Steelers put it all together in the second half for a 26-16 win over the New York Giants. Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield and Bryan Anthony Davis break down the game like no one else does on the latest podcast, the Steelers Post-Game Show.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel.

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Steelers players take to social media to talk about their win over the Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Tue, 09/15/2020 - 4:30am
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Members of the Pittsburgh Steelers take to social media after their win over the Giants in Week 1.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have won their first game of the regular season! After their latest win moves their record to 1-0 for the 2020 regular season after beating the New York Giants on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium in Week 1.

Following the Steelers’ win, players took to social media to celebrate the big win over the NFC East opponent.

Take a look at what was said on different platforms following the game! I also added some interesting video which I felt fans might enjoy.

(Editor’s Note: This article may be updated as more players take to social media to talk about the team’s victory.)

1-0‼️‼️ GREAT TEAM WIN! (I was in them trenches) relax haha.

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) September 15, 2020

That undefeated, never lost type feeling. pic.twitter.com/RK4sXMyN3D

— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) September 15, 2020

1-0 feels good!! On to the next

— Isaiah D. Buggs (@BigPooh_91) September 15, 2020

Dreams came true tonight... ‍♂️ Blessed beyond belief
Love y’all

— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) September 15, 2020

1-0 feels good!! On to the next

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) September 15, 2020

Welcome back... pic.twitter.com/IfSvO4TDzl

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 15, 2020

I love you Pittsburgh.

I love this game.

We won. That’s all that matters.

I’m so pissed...

But once again, I’m motivated...

— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) September 15, 2020

@benny_snell In open grass vs a DB https://t.co/3iRBsP0pj4

— Vince Williams (@VinnyVidiVici98) September 15, 2020

Mood pic.twitter.com/fK5OK0lBFr

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 15, 2020

1-0! Great Team Win!! #HereWeGo #SteelersNation

— Mike Hilton (@MikeHilton_28) September 15, 2020

1-0!

— Jaylen Samuels (@JaySam1k) September 15, 2020

1-0 ..Lets Get It!

— Justin Layne ™ (@_jlayne) September 15, 2020

Great start! On to the next. #HereWeGo

— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) September 15, 2020

#HereWeGo

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) September 15, 2020

1-0!! Great team win @steelers!!

— Jerome Bettis (@JeromeBettis36) September 15, 2020

Victory!!!!! #HereWeGo

— Arthur Moats (@dabody52) September 15, 2020

Hope Zach Banner is ok. Kid worked his tail off this offseason.

— Marcus Gilbert (@MarcusGilbert88) September 15, 2020

Stefen Wisniewski, Zach Banner leave Monday night’s game on back-to-back plays

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 10:36pm
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

One play after Wisniewski leaves the field, Zach Banner gets carted off following a Steelers touchdown.

On a drive which extended the lead to 16 points, The Pittsburgh Steelers lost the entire right side of their offensive line on back-to-back plays. In his post-game interview, head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed both injuries.

Coach Mike Tomlin via zoom on injuries:

Zach Banner (Knee)
Stefen Wisniewski (Pec)
James Conner (Ankle)

All being evaluated.

— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 15, 2020

Wisniewski left the game with a pectoral injury with just over six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter after a 4 yard run by Benny Snell Jr.. After being replaced by Kevin Dotson in his first NFL game, Banner injured his knee on the following play which was an 8 yard touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. Unfortunately, Banner was taken by cart to the locker room.

Both players were ruled out before the Steelers next drive.

The two players started their first game on the offensive line for the Steelers playing side-by-side. Wisniewski came to the Steelers this offseason as a free agent after nine years in the NFL playing for the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Kansas City Chiefs. Zack Banner was entering his fourth NFL season and his third with the Steelers where he earned the starting right tackle job over Chukwuma Okorafor during training camp.

The injury concerns along the Steelers offensive line continue to pile up as All-Pro guard David DeCastro was inactive for the game because of a knee injury.

Stay tuned to Behind The Steel Curtain for all Steelers updates following their Monday night game and as they prepare for Week 2.

For an audio recap of Coach Tomlin’s press conference, and an update on the injuries, check the audio below:

Knee Jerk Reactions after the Steelers 26-16 win over the Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 9:29pm
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

A quick look back at the Steelers’ first game, and first win, of the 2020 regular season.

Let’s Get The Season Started! The Steelers open the season on the road (AGAIN) and still have to travel north, but at least no further north than New Jersey. There the New York Giants await the return of Ben Roethlisberger, a dominant Pittsburgh defense and what should be a much improved offense. Let’s kick the rust off early and give dedicated Steelers fans real reason for the optimism we’ve held for this team during the off-season.

Nonetheless, a simple reminder, a knee jerk reaction is an immediate and unthinking, emotional reaction. It’s basically shooting first and apologizing later (forget that, I apologize for none of my emotion). I can safely say that’s a true definition of your’s truly and a good lot of Steelers’ Nation. Here’s my real-time (and possibly a little bit of my son Kyle’s) reactions during the Steelers’ chance at starting the 2020 season off with a win.

Quarter 1
  • Steelers to kick off. Good. I'd rather have the D start on the field.
  • Lucky that Engram dropped that ball, that would have been a second first down.
  • I thought the Steelers were able to defend the pass?
  • Glad to get off the field without giving up any points there.
  • Diontae Johnson you are not my favorite Steeler right now. That was a terrible motion for a fair catch followed by not catching it. Switzer at least caught them.
  • Thank God the defense is good. Lucky to only give up three letting them start inside the five yard line.
  • A big 3rd and 5 early in the first drive... That looked awful!
  • Bud Dupree big play on second down and helped clean things up on third down punt to come.
  • JuJu with the big third down catch, but Ben is hobbling a little that makes me nervous.
  • Low snap from Pouncey. He better get better at these snaps.
  • Welcome to the NFL Mr Claypool.
  • Promising drive stalls, but Boz ties the game.
  • End of one score tied at three.
Quarter 2
  • Giving up way too many passing yards, but the Steelers are stuffing the run.
  • That flag was way late. The worst part was I don't think he could have caught the ball anyway.
  • Suddenly can't stop the passing game. This could be a rough game.
  • Ben is not looking good.
  • Three and out, not what I was looking for.
  • Watt Watt Watt!!!!!!
  • Third and a couple of inches. Better make this. Great a delay of game penalty. Just get up to the line snap it and sneak it.
  • Thank you Eric Ebron. Now we're talking.
  • JuJu!!!!! Followed by Boswell clanking the PAT..... Too many jitters at the beginning of this game.
  • That play from Barkley is the kind of stuff I was afraid of.
  • Vince Williams with the sack!
  • If Zach Banner can't improve his pass blocking, people will be hollering for Chuks before long. Those were two awful pass blocking attempts in that series.
  • Steelers get the ball back with a 1:32 to go. Will this be a vintage Ben moment?
  • Moving the ball well here. Need to get at least three but I'd like seven.
  • James Washington running tough!!! TD!!! Ben leads a great looking 2-minute drill.
  • Steelers take a 16 to 10 lead to the locker room and will receive the second half kickoff.
Quarter 3
  • Decent return by Ray-Ray McCloud.
  • Benny Snell looking good running the ball.
  • Almost a beautiful grab by Washington on 3rd down. Punt team on.
  • Kyle - "of course they give up a first down on 3rd and 14".
  • Terrell Edmunds got caught looking inside and gave up a first down.
  • Referees missed a blatant hold on T.J. Watt on the 4th down play.
  • Can't get the defense off the field. Have to make a stop on 3rd down.
  • Great pressure by Dupree picked off by Cam Heyward in the end zone, 19 play drive goes for 0 points.
  • Great run by Benny Snell ruined by the fact instead of going out of bounds he fumbles. Thankful for JuJu on that one.
  • Big sack there. Ben's got to throw that ball away.
  • End of the third. Still 16-10 Steelers.
Quarter 4
  • Nice catch by Claypool. instead of trying to get the first let's get 10-12 yards and make it an easier kick.
  • Kick is good Steelers up by two scores.
  • Did Boswell really just put that kickoff out of bounds?
  • Mike Hilton off the corner for the sack!!!!
  • A score here would almost put it away.
  • Need to convert this third down. Give the defense a breather and take more time off the clock.
  • Diontae Johnson big third down catch.
  • Diontae with another third down catch for a first down.
  • Kyle: "Benny Snell showing the energy of a toddler on a sugar rush"
  • Made the Giants take a timeout on defense there. That might really play in our favor at the end of the game.
  • JuJu probably just sealed the W with that touchdown.
  • The defense is giving up a long drive here. Not my most favorite thing, but they are making the Giants eat a lot of time.
  • Big pressure from Highsmith. Didn't get the sack but forced a throwaway. Two minute warning.
  • Didn't like giving up a touchdown there, but stopping the two-point conversion was huge.
  • Benny Snell over a hundred yards tonight. Nice to have a 100 yard rusher.
  • Love the fourth down call, and smart for Claypool to just slide down in bounds.
  • Interested to see the reports on the injuries to Banner, Wisnewski and Conner. Two injuries to offensive linemen is a little nerve racking after Week 1.
  • Victory formation. Three, two, one, WIN!!! In the words of Bill Goldberg "Who's Next?"

Once again, I just fired off what was going through my head at the time. All reactions were in real time. Basically, it is the equivalent of watching the game with me, you just don’t have to go to another room because I am screaming at the television. Now time process it, some quick analyzing for the Scho Bro Show, and then put it behind me as we move toward Week 2. Make sure you get your voice heard in the comments below.

Final Score: Steelers outlast the Giants 26-16 in Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 9:05pm
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the Steelers outlast the Giants on the road to start the season 1-0.

It felt like years since the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the field for a regular season contest, but the time had come when the 2020 regular season began. A lot of uncertainty swirled around the NFL, and the Steelers, heading into this season, but it has started without delay.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense was determined to put the 2019 year behind them, and prove they are equal to the dominant defense the team puts out on the field every week. The first team standing in their way of reaching their goal of a seventh Lombardi trophy? The New York Giants.

The Steelers won the coin toss, and chose to put their defense on the field and deferred to the second half. Daniel Jones and company took the field and ran the no-huddle offense to keep the defense on its heals. After the Steelers’ defense forced a New York punt Diontae Johnson botched the punt and gave the Giants the ball on the four yard line. The defense stood their ground and only allowed a Graham Gano field goal, which made the score 3-0 with 10:34 left in the first quarter.

After a predictable, and uninspiring, three-and-out, the Steelers defense found themselves right back on the field.

Pittsburgh’s defense settled in on the Giants’ next drive, and they forced a three-and-out of their own, giving Ben Roethlisberger a fresh set of downs. What followed was a 59-yard drive featured by a big pass play to Chase Claypool down the right sideline which put the offense in field goal range.

Look at that toe-tap‼️@_BigBen7 to @ChaseClaypool

#PITvsNYG on ESPN pic.twitter.com/gBaJsfURcv

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 14, 2020

Chris Boswell was eventually called on to hit a 41-yard field goal, and he did just that to make the score 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with the Giants’ offense taking the ball and getting two quick first downs to start their third drive of the game. After a questionable pass interference call on Joe Haden, Daniel Jones hit Darrius Slayton down the seam for the first touchdown of the game. Gano’s extra point made it 10-3 with 13:45 left in the second quarter.

Pittsburgh’s offense continued to struggle, and were unable to even gain a first down with their first possession of the second quarter.

On the Giants’ next play from scrimmage Daniel Jones was intercepted by T.J. Watt, putting the Pittsburgh offense in prime real estate to cut into the New York lead.

Told ya he meant business

#PITvsNYG on ESPN | @_TJWatt pic.twitter.com/EF1L5TFYkd

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 15, 2020

Roethlisberger settled in and had big completions to Eric Ebron, and a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, Chris Boswell’s point-after hit off the right upright and made the score 10-9 with 9:01 left in the half.

After the Giants failed to add to their slim lead, the Steelers offense moved the wrong way before sending the ball back to Jones and company prior to the two-minute warning. Getting the ball back with 1:32 left in the half, the Steelers drove down the field and faced a 1st and 10 on the 13 yard line with 14 seconds left in the half. With one timeout remaining, Roethlisberger hit James Washington over the middle and the third year receiver fought his way over the goal line for the score.

No denying @JamesWashington from getting into the end zone‼️

#PITvsNYG on ESPN pic.twitter.com/cNxzqHZKXN

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 15, 2020

Boswell nailed the point-after to make the score 16-10 heading into halftime.

The Steelers received the football to start the second half, and after a nice kickoff return by Ray-Ray McCloud set up the offense with great field position, a field-flipping drive was all Roethlisberger and company could muster before Dustin Colquitt was called on once again to punt.

What Jones and the Giants’ offense did next was nothing short of amazing. Converting every third down they saw on a 19-play drive and getting set up nicely in the red-zone. However, the third down magic didn’t last when Jones was flushed out of the pocket on third down and Bud Dupree hit his arm while trying to throw. The wounded duck ended up in the hands of Cam Heyward and resulted in a touchback.

Randy Fichtner’s offense started to shows signs of life off the turnover, big plays by Smith-Schuster, Benny Snell Jr. and Dionate Johnson got the offense quickly into New York territory. The 62-yard, 9 play drive ended in another Boswell field goal, this from 36 yards, making the score 19-10.

A Mike Hilton sack on third down gave the ball right back to Pittsburgh, and the offense was able to put together an impressive drive deep into New York territory. Huge gains by Benny Snell put the Steelers in field goal territory, but they weren’t satisfied with just three points. Roethlisberger hit Smith-Schuster for his second touchdown of the night.

TD 2️⃣ for @TeamJuJu!

#PITvsNYG on ESPN pic.twitter.com/pu0EWEKdb1

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 15, 2020

The Boswell point-after made the score 26-10.

New York turned to their no-huddle offense to try and put a dent into the score, and they did so with another Jones touchdown pass to Slayton. Joe Judge decided to go for the two-point conversion, but it failed making the score 26-16 with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

It only took a first down to end the game, and the Steelers did that via a Chase Claypool run. The win moves the record to 1-0.

The Steelers return back to Heinz Field in Week 2 as they host the Denver Broncos. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold.

James Conner’s injury woes continue, return to game questionable

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 8:44pm
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Steelers running back struggled to run effectively before exiting the game.

Steelers running back James Conner is questionable to return to the Steelers Week 1 game against the New York Giants.

James Conner has an ankle injury and is questionable to return. That explains Benny Snell being the bell cow of the game in the second half.

— Joe Rutter (@tribjoerutter) September 15, 2020

Conner struggled to get going for the Steelers early on with only 6 rushing attempts for 9 yards. Conner also added two receptions for 8 yards all of which occurred in the first half.

Conner has dealt with a series of injuries throughout his short career and has yet to play all 16 games over his first three seasons. Additionally, Conner struggles to complete games in which he plays, much like the Steelers first matchup of 2020.

Through the first 3 and a half quarters, Benny Snell Jr. has rushed quite effectively for the Steelers with over 100 yards rushing as the Steelers look to closeout the game. Snell did have one fumble but was bailed out on the recovery by JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will look to address the Conner injury in his post game interview.

Stay tuned to BTSC for all your breaking news as the Steelers look to go 1-0 on the 2020 season.

Steelers vs. Giants: 3rd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 8:17pm
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

2nd Quarter In-Game Update

The Steelers received the football to start the second half, and after a nice kickoff return by Ray-Ray McCloud set up the offense with great field position, a field-flipping drive was all Roethlisberger and company could muster before Dustin Colquitt was called on once again to punt.

What Jones and the Giants’ offense did next was nothing short of amazing. Converting every third down they saw on a 19-play drive and getting set up nicely in the red-zone. However, the third down magic didn’t last when Jones was flushed out of the pocket on third down and Bud Dupree hit his arm while trying to throw. The wounded duck ended up in the hands of Cam Heyward and resulted in a touchback.

The Steelers had the ball, and are driving, to end the third quarter. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes on the Steelers as they continue in this Week 1 prime time game.

Steelers vs. Giants: Second-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 7:44pm
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2020 regular season begins with the Steelers and Giants locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the first time in the 2020 regular season as they prepare to face off against the New York Giants in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is a message here from NFL Manager Jeanna Thomas about the new Coral commenting system:

Here are a few features that you might want to include in game day thread articles, to help your community enjoy the game day threads more:

If you change the ‘Sort By’ option to “Oldest,” you can read all the comments in chronological order, and the comment box moves to the bottom. If you leave it as “Newest”, the latest comments will appear at the top.

If you’re using a computer, you can move down the comments using C, and move back up using shift-C by clicking once inside the comments area. This can also be used to ‘load more’ comments.

Under the ‘My Profile’ tab, you can keep track of replies to your comments, and also sign up for email notifications of replies

If you want to auto-show all images/GIFs/Tweets, you can opt into this under My Profile - Preferences

As always, we’re continuing to improve the system, and will be watching how everyone is using it on game days – and if you or your community have suggestions on how we can further improve the game day thread experience, we’d love for you/them to join our commenting feedback group: https://forms.gle/2FTSCHRgnggxH6SR6 or you can email support@coralproject.net.

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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Steelers vs. Giants: 2nd quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 7:37pm
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

1st Quarter In-Game Update

The second quarter started with the Giants’ offense taking the ball and getting two quick first downs to start their third drive of the game. After a questionable pass interference call on Joe Haden, Daniel Jones hit Darrius Slayton down the seam for the first touchdown of the game. Gano’s extra point made it 10-3 with 13:45 left in the second quarter.

Pittsburgh’s offense continued to struggle, and were unable to even gain a first down with their first possession of the second quarter.

On the Giants’ next play from scrimmage Daniel Jones was intercepted by T.J. Watt, putting the Pittsburgh offense in prime real estate to cut into the New York lead. Roethlisberger settled in and had big completions to Eric Ebron, and a touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster. However, Chris Boswell’s point-after hit off the right upright and made the score 10-9 with 9:01 left in the half.

After the Giants failed to add to their slim lead, the Steelers offense moved the wrong way before sending the ball back to Jones and company prior to the two-minute warning. Getting the ball back with 1:32 left in the half, the Steelers drove down the field and faced a 1st and 10 on the 13 yard line with 14 seconds left in the half. With one timeout remaining, Roethlisberger hit James Washington over the middle and the third year receiver fought his way over the goal line for the score.

Boswell nailed the point-after to make the score 16-10 heading into halftime.

Steelers vs. Giants: 1st quarter in-game update

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 6:45pm
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back, and we keep you up to date with those who aren’t able to watch the game live.

It felt like years since the last time the Pittsburgh Steelers were on the field for a regular season contest, but the time had come when the 2020 regular season began. A lot of uncertainty swirled around the NFL, and the Steelers, heading into this season, but it has started without delay.

Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense was determined to put the 2019 year behind them, and prove they are equal to the dominant defense the team puts out on the field every week. The first team standing in their way of reaching their goal of a seventh Lombardi trophy? The New York Giants.

The Steelers won the coin toss, and chose to put their defense on the field and deferred to the second half. Daniel Jones and company took the field and ran the no-huddle offense to keep the defense on its heals. After the Steelers’ defense forced a New York punt Diontae Johnson botched the punt and gave the Giants the ball on the four yard line. The defense stood their ground and only allowed a Graham Gano field goal, which made the score 3-0 with 10:34 left in the first quarter.

After a predictable, and uninspiring, three-and-out, the Steelers defense found themselves right back on the field.

Pittsburgh’s defense settled in on the Giants’ next drive, and they forced a three-and-out of their own, giving Ben Roethlisberger a fresh set of downs. What followed was a 59-yard drive featured by a big pass play to Chase Claypool down the right sideline which put the offense in field goal range.

Chris Boswell was eventually called on to hit a 41-yard field goal, and he did just that to make the score 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers during this Monday Night Football game.

Steelers vs. Giants: First-half live updates, injury news and open thread

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 5:30pm
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back on the gridiron! The 2020 regular season begins with the Steelers and Giants locking horns in Week 1. Keep tabs on all things Black-and-gold with our updates and open thread.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back on the field, and this time for the first time in the 2020 regular season as they prepare to face off against the New York Giants in Week 1 at MetLife Stadium.

Throughout the game, be sure to check back here for score updates, injury news and any breaking news from those on the sidelines following the team live. You can also follow along in the Twitter feed below.

For those wondering, you can enjoy some lively commentary with the best Steelers fans across the globe in the open thread for all BTSC members in the comment section below. Let’s remember to keep it clean, respect everyone’s thoughts and ideas, and ultimately remember we’re all here for the same reason—to root on the Steelers!

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is a message here from NFL Manager Jeanna Thomas about the new Coral commenting system:

Here are a few features that you might want to include in game day thread articles, to help your community enjoy the game day threads more:

If you change the ‘Sort By’ option to “Oldest,” you can read all the comments in chronological order, and the comment box moves to the bottom. If you leave it as “Newest”, the latest comments will appear at the top.

If you’re using a computer, you can move down the comments using C, and move back up using shift-C by clicking once inside the comments area. This can also be used to ‘load more’ comments.

Under the ‘My Profile’ tab, you can keep track of replies to your comments, and also sign up for email notifications of replies

If you want to auto-show all images/GIFs/Tweets, you can opt into this under My Profile - Preferences

As always, we’re continuing to improve the system, and will be watching how everyone is using it on game days – and if you or your community have suggestions on how we can further improve the game day thread experience, we’d love for you/them to join our commenting feedback group: https://forms.gle/2FTSCHRgnggxH6SR6 or you can email support@coralproject.net.

So enjoy the game and be sure to follow BTSC for all the latest news surrounding the team throughout the game and afterwards!

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

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Steelers choose to have 6 players inactive Week 1 vs. the Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 4:55pm
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Even with an expanded 48-man game-day roster, the Steelers appear to have had one more player inactive than needed.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have released their inactives for their opening game against the New York Giants. With one players ruled out due to injury, the list is made up of 4 healthy scratches. With new roster rules for 2020, teams will only need to have 5 players inactive each game unless they elevate any players from the practice squad. Strangely, the Steelers have reportedly made six players in active for week one and have not announced any elevation of someone from the practice squad.

Inactives for the #Steelers tonight vs. the Giants: QB Dobbs, RB McFarland, ILB Gilbert, DL Carlos Davis, G DeCastro, TE Gentry

— Bob Labriola (@BobLabriola) September 14, 2020

All-Pro guard David DeCastro has barely practiced since the Steelers put on pads almost a month ago. It was reported earlier in the week DeCastro would probably not be available for Week 1, and on Saturday the Steelers confirmed the report by ruling DeCastro out. Now the focus turns to Week 2 for DeCastro to see if his knee can be ready for next Sunday against the Broncos.

With no other players even having an injury status, the remaining spots on the inactive list are filled with healthy players. With the Steelers not usually dressing their third quarterback, Josh Dobbs was to be expected on the list. With rookies who are a part of deep position groups, defensive tackle Carlos Davis will not get a helmet in Week 1

The Steelers ultimately chose to only go into Week 1 with two tight ends and to have Zach Gentry inactive. Gentry was most likely not going to see much action on offense unless there was an injury and does not offer a lot when it comes to special teams as he only played two special teams snaps in his four games in 2019.

The Steelers also chose to only go into Week 1 with only three running backs and to have rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. inactive. Whether the Steelers felt McFarland was not ready enough to use in Week 1 or if they simply thought four running backs was more than they needed is unknown. Regardless, the first of the Steelers’ two fourth-round draft picks in the 2020 NFL draft will have to wait to make his NFL debut.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of all is not only with the Steelers having six players inactive, but they also chose to have Ulysees Gilbert III not to take the field. While many believed Gilbert was the next option at inside linebacker behind Devin Bush and Vince Williams, it appears he is the last man on the depth chart.

As for the Giants’ inactives, they can be seen below. The most notable name is wide receiver Golden Tate.

Giants inactives tonight include: WR Golden Tate, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Cam Brown, LB Tae Crowder, G Shane Lemieux, OT Jackson Barton, DE RJ McIntosh

— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) September 14, 2020

A Letter From the Editors: It isn’t ideal, but options are available

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 3:00pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are back, and we want to make this site the best as it can be...even throughout a transition.

The 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers season is upon us, and there are a lot of concerns heading into the new year.

What if a player gets COVID-19 and has to sit out?

Will Ben Roethlisberger be the Roethlisberger of 2018, or will he struggle?

And what about that new commenting system at BTSC?!

While the latter isn’t the most important, or an integral part of the Steelers’ success, we realize it is an important part of the fan experience here at BTSC. Fans come here for the articles, podcasts and the game day threads...not being able to comment is a serious problem.

During the full slate of games Sunday there were issues across the network with commenting. It even bogged down sites like BTSC who didn’t have a game going on at the time. Regardless of your thoughts on the transition from the old system to Coral, it remains a work-in-progress.

In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is a message here from NFL Manager Jeanna Thomas about the system:

Here are a few features that you might want to include in game day thread articles, to help your community enjoy the game day threads more:

If you change the ‘Sort By’ option to “Oldest,” you can read all the comments in chronological order, and the comment box moves to the bottom. If you leave it as “Newest”, the latest comments will appear at the top.

If you’re using a computer, you can move down the comments using C, and move back up using shift-C by clicking once inside the comments area. This can also be used to ‘load more’ comments.

Under the ‘My Profile’ tab, you can keep track of replies to your comments, and also sign up for email notifications of replies

If you want to auto-show all images/GIFs/Tweets, you can opt into this under My Profile - Preferences

As always, we’re continuing to improve the system, and will be watching how everyone is using it on game days – and if you or your community have suggestions on how we can further improve the game day thread experience, we’d love for you/them to join our commenting feedback group: https://forms.gle/2FTSCHRgnggxH6SR6 or you can email support@coralproject.net.

There are still concerns, and I want to let you know what we are doing here at BTSC to help ease the transition on our end.

No, we cannot just flip a switch and go back to the old system. We are content providers, not the site developers hired by VOX Media and SB Nation. But what we can do are provide you plenty of spaces to communicate with fans if one thread gets inundated with comments.

Here is what the layout will look like for tonight’s game. We hope the fact the Steelers will be the only game tonight will help with the commenting system, but we have a plan in case it goes south in a hurry.

  • There will be a first half open thread. Nothing new there.
  • There will also be 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarter live in-game updates. These aren’t new either, but the discussion can certainly bleed over to these articles if the open threads are becoming slow to load, etc.
  • There will be a second half open thread. Nothing new there.
  • After the game, the game recap, Knee Jerk Reactions and a recap of Mike Tomlin’s press conference will also be there for you to use to get your thoughts/feelings about the game out of your system.

We know this isn’t a fix-all, but us trying to help make this site your go-to Steelers site is our main goal.

Try to be patient with us throughout this process, and know these changes don’t impact the content being produced on a daily basis!

As always...

HERE WE GO STEELERS!

Who is the Steelers’ X-Factor vs. the Giants?

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 2:00pm
Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Who is the X-Factor for the Steelers in their Week 1 game vs. the Giants on Monday Night Football?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the New York Giants in Week 1. It is the Steelers’ first game of the season, and hopefully their first win of the 2020 regular season.

When looking at the matchup between interconference foes, there are players who can be viewed as ‘X-Factors’.

What is an ‘X-Factor’?

I would describe an ‘X-Factor’ as a player who can truly alter the outcome of the game, single-handedly. Not just a plug and play type player, but a player who always has to be accounted for, no matter what.

As a clear-cut example of what an ‘X-Factor’ player would look like, think Troy Polamalu. Polamalu’s skill set made him a force to be reckoned with on every play. So, who are the ‘X-Factors’ for the Steelers Week 1 game vs. New York?

Let’s take a look...

Jeff Hartman

X-Factor: James Conner

Why: There is no better friend to a quarterback than a good running game. The Steelers didn’t have that in 2019, but they sure could use it in Week 1 on the road as Ben Roethlisberger gets settled in. Not having thrown an NFL pass in almost a calendar year is something Roethlisberger has him anxious for the prime time game. What better way to get comfortable than to have Conner ripping off runs and big chunks of yards to take the pressure off Roethlisberger.

The best way for the Steelers to win this game is for Conner to really show he is not just durable, but effective when he touches the football. This would allow Roethlisberger to not have to feel the pressure of carrying the team, but making plays when they present themselves to the offense.

Dave Schofield

X-Factor: Vince Williams

Why: In order for the Steelers to win this game, they have to minimize the one player who could really hurt them. That player Saquon Barkley. If Barkley doesn’t get going, there’s not much else to the Giants offense that is truly scary. The best way for the Steelers to combat of the run in 2019 was with Vince Williams. His return to the lineup in Week 5 against the Ravens was apparent immediately.

But it’s not just playing against the run. The Steelers also need to minimize Williams having a large role in the passing defense. If Williams isn’t asked to do much in pass coverage and yet is in situations to be effective against the run, he is the biggest key in minimizing the Giants number one weapon.

Ed Valentine (Editor, Big Blue View)

X-Factor: Giants’ pass rush

Why: The X-Factor isn’t really a player. The X-Factor for the Giants is whether or not they can generate a pass rush. They weren’t good enough there last season, and the only new pass rusher is Kyler Fackrell, which isn’t inspiring. They are banking on improvement from Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. We’ll see if they get it.

Who would be your X-Factor for the Week 1 game at MetLife Stadium? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Bold and Bizarre predictions for Steelers vs. Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 1:00pm
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Much to the chagrin of most, BTSC’s Nostradumbass predicts the Steelers’ matchup with the Giants.

The Steelers are back in black-and gold and ready to embark on a successful 2020. But there are many questions to be answered.

How will Ben hold up after not playing in 365 days? Will JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner stay healthy to begin their walk years? Will the ridiculous 23-game streak of the Steelers committing a turnover continue? Can the Steelers defense harass Daniel Jones and bottle-up Saquon Barkley? Will Eric Ebron and Chase Claypool find the end zone in their Steelers debuts?

With these questions, story lines, and more, I’ve compiled a list of predictions (some basic, and some utterly idiotic) to look for in this opening contest.

Last year, I came close, but ultimately whiffed on most of my predictions. Let’s see if I can rebound this week.

  • Boujee Smith-Schuster is denied entrance to the locker room, until JuJu convinces security and the locker room attendant that the pooch is the receiver’s service animal.
  • Le’Veon Bell announces that he will never perform again at halftime at Steelers games, but may make an appearance at his home stadium on his night off.
  • Anthony McFarland Jr., excited for his debut, is perplexed and chagrined to find his No. 26 jersey missing from his locker and a sharpie and a roll of duct tape laying by his stall.
  • Boujee is found sniffing and digging around the end zone, perhaps locating the eternal resting place of Jimmy Hoffa.
  • Ben Roethlisberger airs it out on his second play from scrimmage for a 45-yard connection with Diontae Johnson, Ben concludes his day with 242 yards and 2 touchdowns.
  • Big Ben also throws an interception, extending the Steelers turnover streak to 24 games.
  • Zach Banner, feeling anonymous and ignored after his No. 72 is not announced 47 times as eligible, asks Mike Tomlin to switch his spot with that of Chukwuma Okorafor. Bad news for him, his request is quickly denied. The good news for everybody else, Hulk does not give up a sack in his starting debut.
  • McFarland’s jersey is returned to him slightly altered and a shirtless Bell is found racing out of the MetLife Stadium exit.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster catches a fourth quarter TD pass from Ben. Despite no crowd, JuJu still manages to wow the fans at home by grabbing Boujee, jumping in a gas balloon and flying out of MetLife Stadium. The celebration is to honor Joseph Kittinger, the first man to pilot such a craft over the Atlantic Ocean alone. The feat happened on this date in 1984.
  • Eric Ebron catches six balls in his Steelers debut, including a 12-yard score.
  • Terrell Edmunds records his second career interception in the third quarter.
  • Bud Dupree gets back on the sack train with a strip sack of Daniel Jones, but T.J Watt adds two. All in all, the Steelers take down Jones on four separate occasions.
  • James Conner rushes for 112 yards on 24 carries and a score.
  • The Steelers hold Saquon Barkley to 74 yards on the ground. But the stud rusher still scores twice.
  • The Steelers have to shake of some rust, but they outplay the Giants for a 26-20 victory.

Will any of this actually happen? I’ll bet at least one or two. Heck, maybe every one of them. Be sure to post your predictions — basic or bizarre — below.

Behind Enemy Lines: A close look at the “unknown” Steelers opponent in Week 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:00pm
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are a team filled with unknowns, so I go behind enemy lines to try and get answers for the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the New York Giants in Week 1 of the regular season on Monday night football, but who are they preparing for?

The Giants have a new head coach, new coordinators and a slew of new players on both sides of the football. This isn’t the Giants team with Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan. No, this is a shell of that franchise, but leaves plenty of questions about what the Giants will bring to the table at MetLife Stadium Monday night.

With so much unknown I spoke with Big Blue View editor Ed Valentine to get a feel for what this “unknown” opponent has to offer in Week 1.

When the Giants have the ball, how will they try to move the ball with Daniel Jones entering his second year under center?

Listen, the Giants have a new head coach in Joe Judge and a new offensive coordinator in Jason Garrett. We haven’t seen anything, really, so it’s all guess work. I know this much — Saquon Barkley should see the football A LOT. I would expect Evan Engram to be heavily featured, as well. The Giants have hinted they might be run-heavy. We’ll see. That’s about all I can tell you right now.

When the Steelers have the ball, how will the Giants’ defense attempt to stop Ben Roethlisberger and company?

Again, this is difficult. New head coach, new defensive coordinator in Patrick Graham. We have little to go on, other than Graham’s one season with Miami and the fact that he worked for Belichick. I expect the Giants to be multiple on defense. I expect cornerback James Bradberry to follow JuJu Smith-Schuster. Other than that, haven’t got a clue what we’ll see.

Who is your X-Factor for the game (a player who will be a linchpin for the success of the NYG in the game)

The X-Factor isn’t really a player. The X-Factor for the Giants is whether or not they can generate a pass rush. They weren’t good enough there last season, and the only new pass rusher is Kyler Fackrell, which isn’t inspiring. They are banking on improvement from Lorenzo Carter, Oshane Ximines, Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. We’ll see if they get it.

One player to watch no one is talking about...

I don’t think he fits the “no one is talking about” criteria, but I have to give you Andrew Thomas. The Giants drafted him No. 4 overall and Nate Solder opting out means he will be at left tackle. Does he look overmatched in his NFL debut, or does he look competent?

Prediction

Want to see the Giants win. Can’t pick them until I see some evidence of what they are.

Steelers, 24-17

(For the best content on the other side of this matchup, be sure to check out Big Blue View for the best on the Giants.)

What are we thinking? BTSC picks the winner of Steelers vs. Giants

Behind the Steel Curtain - Mon, 09/14/2020 - 11:15am
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The staff at BTSC share their thoughts and predict the outcome of the Steelers opener against the New York Giants.

Now that the regular season is finally here and the offseason that seemed like an eon is over, there’s one last bit of speculation to be recorded. Are the Steelers going to live up to the lofty expectations that their fans have of them? Will they play down to a presumably lesser opponent or are those days over? The contributors at BTSC have recorded their thoughts and predictions. Let’s see who’s closest to the mark and furthest from reality.

Bryan Anthony Davis

This is not going to be the cakewalk that many fans believe that it is going to be. There is going to be some form of rust on Ben Roethlisberger and his black-and-gold clad warriors, But how much? I believe that home-field advantage means very little with no fans in the stands. I also believe that the Steelers are the better team, but they aren’t going to win running away. Expect some heartburn, but believe that there will be relief in a victory.

Steelers 26, Giants 20

K.T. Smith

I suspect it will take a bit for the Steelers to get rolling. A rusty Ben Roethlisberger plus a fired up Giants team with a new head coach in a prime-time spot should equal a struggle, especially in the first half. But I believe the Steelers are the better team and will prove that over sixty minutes. Once the adrenaline wears off and it becomes about ability and execution, Pittsburgh has the advantage. I look for the defense to lock New York down in the second half and for the offense to find just enough rhythm to prevail.

Steelers 27, Giants 17

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Geoffrey Benedict

I see this game starting one of two ways, either the Steelers jump out to an early lead either due to the defense making plays or the offense starting hot, and if that happens I think the Steelers run the ball a lot, focus on getting Ben back accustomed to being on the field and playing and test some of Matt Canada’s designs in the run game. The other way is a rusty start for Ben Roethlisberger, and the Giants keep it close into the second half. Either way the game ends up a relatively lower scoring affair with the Steelers coming out on top.

Steelers 21, Giants 10

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Shannon White

The Steelers are the far more talented team, but my gut tells me to expect the unexpected. There are a plethora of unknowns surrounding the matchup, due to new faces in new places and no preseason games. The amount of rust that Ben Roethlisberger will have to shake off is debatable, but a case of the jitters is almost guaranteed. Ben himself has acknowledged no less. That should dissipate once he takes a hit or two, and realizes that his arm isn't going to fall off once he has to really lean into a deep out route. The Steelers defense is superb, and should control the action. Limiting Barkley is priority number one, and stopping Danny Jones from making big plays with his legs is next. After a slow start by Ben and the offense, they eventually get rolling after the defense puts them in some favorable field positions throughout.

Steelers 24, Giants 14

Anthony Defeo

As I keep saying, this just feels like a comfortable, if not easy, win for the Steelers. I look for it to be close early, before Pittsburgh pulls away in the second half. The Giants are compromised along the offensive line, as well as the secondary. T.J. Watt will get multiple sacks, the Steelers will allow their fans to fall in-love with an old flame—the ground game—and Chase Claypool will put the nation on notice in his first game.

Steelers 31, Giants 13

Michael Beck

The Steelers (and Ben Roethlisberger) have something to prove. I expect huge games out of T.J. Watt potentially forcing multiple fumbles, and from the entire offense who have had a full year of listening to how terrible they were from the national media. The Giants are walking into a buzzsaw.

Steelers 38, Giants 10

Matty Peverell

If the Steelers can come out iron-hot from opening kick-off, the hype will only continue to build amongst Steeler Nation that the Steelers are a legitimate Super Bowl candidate in 2020. However, I think the Steelers start a little jittery, particularly Ben Roethlisberger, make some plays on offense through Eric Ebron and James Washington, while missing a couple of scoring chances and it’s a close game at halftime. The Steelers then come out and win the game in the third quarter by scoring on offense and shutting the Giants down through a key sack or tackle for a loss and a crucial interception. If this happens, look for the Steelers to run it down the middle with the likes of Benny Snell Jr. and throw short passes to their tight-ends, Claypool to make a big play in the redzone in the second half.

Steelers 28, Giants 17

Mark Davison

Here we go Steelers! Our first game back versus the New York Football Giants. I believe Ben Roethlisberger comes out slinging with the help of a solid running game. If James Conner can help the offense to move the sticks, the Steelers will be in good shape to get the win. On the defensive side of the football, T.J. Watt will lead the league in sacks after Week 1.

Steelers 31, Giants 10

Dave Schofield

For some reason, I feel this game is going to come down to the Steelers’ defense. As long as no major communication breakdowns occur, they will keep the Steelers in control as the offense settles for field goals more than fans will like. Look for the Steelers get rack up a large number of sacks to get the 2020 season started. But it will be a Week 1 victory to set the season off in the right direction.

Steelers 26, Giants 9

Jeff Hartman

No one knows what to think when the Steelers take the field at MetLife Stadium. Will Ben Roethlisberger start off fast, or will it be a sluggish start? Will the defense pick up where they left off, or will there be a learning curve for the veteran group? No one knows, but I have a feeling a slow start will result in a big win for the Steelers. Roethlisberger might be a bit off to start, and understandably so, but the defense will carry the day until the offense gets up to speed.

Steelers 24, Giants 13

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