The Steelers defense came out flying on Sunday, recording a total of seven sacks and an interception. TJ Watt went off with eight tackles and four sacks himself. Despite all that, however, they still couldn’t hold off the Browns. The front seven for the Steelers, obviously, is not necessarily the problem.
All day they seemed to be getting to quarterback Tyrod Taylor without much issue. And with a 21-7 lead over the Browns, you’d expect really any defense to secure that lead. Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do the team any favors either by throwing three interceptions. But offensively the Steelers outplayed the Browns with 472 to 327 total yards. It was the defense that allowed the late, game-tying touchdown.
What would look like a great defensive performance on paper falls short to the Browns in reality. The secondary lacked any big-play breakthroughs, but for the most part, they played with tight coverage. So the problems fall on the entire defensive unit here.
To blow a two-touchdown lead to any team, something needs to go wrong on defense. For the Steelers on Sunday, it was their lack of timely plays. In crunch time, the Steelers defense is notorious for making game-saving plays left and right. However, on Sunday, the unit lacked the ability to get a late-game stop to protect the lead. Now Joe Haden may potentially miss week 2 on a hamstring injury suffered on Sunday.
Earning a sack on Tyrod Taylor is great, but that gets nullified if he throws or runs for a 20-yard first down. Taylor threw for 150 yards on 40 attempts and only 15 completions. However, one of those completions was a 17-yard touchdown reception to Josh Gordon for his first catch of the day. Taylor was also the Brown’s leading rusher with 77 yards. So, not an overwhelming amount of offense by any means, but it proved to be enough to pull even against a Steelers defense unable to come up with a big play.
Coming into this week the Steelers will face the KC Chiefs at home, a team with a much more sound offense than the Browns. The concerns are looming over the ability of this defense to keep points off the board, especially against a powerful Travis Kelce and an explosive Tyreek Hill.
Roethlisberger is nursing a mild elbow injury sustained on Sunday, but won’t miss any playing time with it. Expect Roethlisberger to bounce back at home in week 2, but the ability for the defense to keep points off the board still remains up in the air.