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3 Steelers takeaways after Week 1 win vs. Bengals

NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, Mitch Trubisky, T.J. Watt, Chris Boswell

The Pittsburgh Steelers survived a double-overtime thriller against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 at the Paul Brown Stadium. A crazy game had a pretty pedestrian ending. After both teams missed game-winning field goal tries, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell sank a 53-yard try on the final play of overtime to lead Pittsburgh to a 23-20 triumph in Cincinnati. On the Steelers’ last possession, two massive completions from Mitch Trubisky to Pat Freiermuth set up Boswell’s game-winning attempt.

It was a highly entertaining matchup that resulted in one of last season’s Super Bowl teams eating some humble pie. Now let’s take a look at some Steelers takeaways after their Week 1 win vs. the Bengals.

3. Receivers were a mixed bag

While highly touted rookie George Pickens was practically invisible, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson each made some great plays when the opportunity arrived. Both had at least one spectacular catch in the game. Similarly, Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry were both involved in the receiving game. Najee Harris did score a touchdown, but it came on a short throw in the red zone.

In all, it was a mixed bag for the receiving corps. The entire offense, in fact, struggled mightily in this contest. Pittsburgh was destroyed in time of possession as they failed to run the ball and pick up first downs through the air. The offense will be the Steelers’ weaker unit in 2022.

2. Steelers D was great until T.J. Watt got injured

The Pittsburgh defense immediately put Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow on notice. On Cincinnati’s first offensive drive of the game, veteran Cameron Heyward got into the Bengals’ backfield and sacked the young quarterback. Mikah Fitzpatrick then jumped a passing route to pick off the first pass of the day and take it into the end zone for a pick-6. That set the tone for a difficult afternoon for Burrow & Co.

By the end of the OT victory, the Steelers had sacked Burrow seven times and he received 11 hits. They had five total takeaways (a recovered fumble and four interceptions), defended nine passes, recorded nine tackles for a loss, and caused problems in the red zone for the Bengals. Alex Highsmith led the defense with 3.0 sacks.

The Steelers’ defensive brilliance, however, came at a steep price. Star linebacker T.J. Watt sustained what is now determined to be a pectoral injury late in the game. While the true extent of Watt’s injury is unknown at this time, a torn pec could end his 2022 season before it even begins. Prior to the injury, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was having a great game, and this might be the hardest blow to the Steelers this season.

1. Mitch Trubisky was solid

The ex-Chicago Bears quarterback didn’t exactly put up memorable yardage in his Steelers debut. Still, he completed 21 of 38 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown throw to Harris. In regulation, his two longest completions were to tight ends Zach Gentry (32 yards) and Pat Freiermuth (31 yards). Trubisky also completed a 25-yard throw to Diontae Johnson prior to Boswell’s failed field goal attempt in overtime. As mentioned above, Trubisky’s completions of 26 and 10 yards to Freiermuth set up Boswell’s game-winning touchdown.

He may not have been stellar, but he was solid. He certainly was clutch, too.

Having said all that, Trubisky remains on a tight leash. No doubt fans wanted to be impressed with the offense’s performance in the season opener. That most emphatically did not happen.

Mitch Trubisky accomplished enough to win the game but not much more. Despite having solid protection in front of him for the majority of the game, the Steelers quarterback averaged only 5.1 yards per attempt. Even though they were +5, the Steelers were on the verge of losing. If this offense does not improve quickly, Mitch Trubisky might have to see Kenny Pickett slide into his spot sooner rather than later.