A quick glance at the stats confirms that Pittsburgh came away with little to smile about. Ben Roethlisberger went an inefficient 27-47 for 276 yards, averaging a paltry 5.6 yards per pass. James Conner managed just 21 yards on 10 carries. And, of course, the key stat: zero touchdowns.
That kind of offensive production didn’t cut it against the Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots. It probably won’t even cut it against Pete Carroll, Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, who squeaked by the so-so Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 while giving up a big day to Andy Dalton.
Are the Steelers in for a long season? Their Week 2 matchup with the Seahawks will go a long way toward answering that question. But they’ll have to face the challenge while nursing a number of injuries, including Joe Haden (AC joint), Roosevelt Nix (knee), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (toe). Among those, only Nix is expected to miss time.
The biggest injury is probably the Steelers’ pride, which bodes well for Sunday. According to Larry Hartstein, senior analyst at SportsLine, “you look at the Steelers at Heinz Field — 15-3 in home openers. That’s impressive. And then you look at what Big Ben has done the week after he doesn’t throw a touchdown pass — 26-3. All of those signs point to a Pittsburgh bounce-back.”
Multiple Steelers come into the Seahawks matchup with something to prove, and that starts right at the top. “I think Tomlin has to respond too,” says Hartstein. “He’s the guy that went for a field goal down 20 to nothing in the third quarter. That sends the wrong message to the team. So we need to see Big Ben. We need to see Tomlin respond. We need to see Donte Moncrief catch a pass.”
The Steelers have generally responded well after big losses. And the Seahawks, traveling east, present a beatable opponent. As if they need any more incentive, Pittsburgh would certainly like to avoid going 0-2 to start the season.
The Steelers face the Seahawks Sunday at 1:00 ET.