Steeler Nation doesn’t just reside in the surrounding areas of Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia. It is a world-wide army that lives and dies with the NFL franchise that calls Pittsburgh it’s home. The six-time Super Bowl champions are a team that always strives for excellence, and their fans expect nothing less in return. This is the ultimate Steelers Game Day Preview that all followers of the black and gold come to find everything they need to know about the Pittsburgh Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@PghSportsNation), who covers both Pitt football and the Steelers for NGSC Sports, brings you inside the huddle for both teams with a weekly game story, the Steelers offensive and defensive game plans for success, prediction, game day information, a detailed breakdown of each team, and an up to date team injury report. Heck, you’ll even know the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform.
Steelers seek momentum heading into the bye
In the season opener, the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-3) stunned Buffalo 23-16, then dropped three straight to the Raiders, Bengals, and Packers.
The offense was nonexistent as the offensive line was horrific, Ben Roethlisberger looked old, and none of the receivers showed any consistency in making plays or getting open.
The season, it seemed, was dead in the water, and the Steelers were pretty much considered a team headed for a high draft pick.
Not so fast my friends.
The offense showed signs of life vs Denver, pumping out 27 points, exhibiting balance in both the pass and running game in their victory over the Broncos.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 253 yards, completing 15 of 25 passes, two for touchdowns. Najee Harris had his best day as a pro, rushing for 122 yards and a score.
Finally, it seemed, this offense gave a glimpse of what could be if progress continues to be made.
The blueprint for success has been revealed to be a balanced offense where Roethlisberger throws around 25 or so times a game, while Harris gets fed the ball to pound on opposing defenses a good 20-25 times.
Toss in some play action and some well timed screens and this offense could start to make some noise sooner than later.
Roethlisberger was also able to hit some slant routes and attack downfield in the middle. Imagine that?!?
Harris has said for weeks this rush attack was on the verge of a breakthrough.
“It’s a lot of repetition, a lot of us just staying down, and what I mean by that is don’t read too much in the media of how good it was or don’t think what you did was good enough,” Harris said Friday. “We’ve got a lot more games. One game isn’t going to make the running game change just overnight.”
Harris and the Steelers were able to batter the Broncos defense for 146 yards, a team that was just giving up 70 yards a game previously.
I saw transition and how hard they were working back then,” Harris said about his line. “The stats might not show it, but I saw them improving in practice and I saw them trying to do it on film. One of these games it was going to come together. The Packers was one where it did. The following week got even better. We’re trying to get better and better every week.”
Roethlisberger is also seeing the special talent he has in Harris, realizing that he does not have to carry the entire offense on his shoulders anymore.
“He’s got the total package,” Roethlisberger said. “I think he’s just now getting comfortable, getting used to playing in the NFL. I think you’ve seen steps every week. Last week, getting his first 100-yard game and catching the ball out of the backfield and understanding what it takes in the NFL.”
Roethlisberger figured it was just time that separated Harris from finding his game.
“It was probably easy a lot of the time playing for a semi-pro team in college,” Roethlisberger said. “It’s different, so to have to come to the NFL after having so much success in college and understanding that it’s not always going to be that easy takes some getting used to.
“I think he’s getting that.”
Harris is excited on what this team can now do moving forward, especially this week against a Seahawks defense giving up 145.2 yards per game to opposing runners.
“What I’m really excited about is we’re really molding together and finding what type of team we have,” he said. “We are seeing some of the stuff we have to work on. … We don’t want to lose games, but I always tell myself there are some things losing can teach you that winning never can. I’m not saying we have to lose, but I look at a loss as a win sometimes because it can be a learning point for a team and a learning point of what we have to work on.
“We really found out a lot about each other the last couple weeks. I think we’re on track to start changing things around.”
Steelers Game Plan for Success
- Stay balanced: Stick to the plan that works. Seattle’s defense is not good, so it’s up to Big Ben and Matt Canada to mix in a good balance of run and pass to keep the Seahawks defense on it’s heels.
- Keep attacking the middle: The more success this team has in completing splash plays across the middle, the better. That will open some lanes for the receivers and some running room for Harris to play with.
- Limit splash plays: With no Russell Wilson to deal with, the defense has to impose it’s will against their back-up in Geno Smith, who will likely try to make a few plays running out of the pocket. Good pass pressure could lead to some turnovers and provide the offense a few opportunities to work on a short field.
Pittsburgh couldn’t ask for a better scenario. It is a prime-time game for a national audience at Heinz Field.
“Having an opportunity to play this game… in front of our peers and international audiences, it’s something that we covet and respect,” coach Mike Tomlin said.
With a big home win, the Steelers will head into the bye at 3-3 with some momentum ahead of their much anticipated game at Cleveland on Halloween.
If the offense continues it’s success on being balanced, the points should come against a bad Seattle defense, and with Geno Smith at the helm instead of Russell Wilson, the defense has no excuses not to step up and shutdown the Seahawks offense… Steelers 31 Seahawks 17
Game Day Information
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Seattle Seahawks
- Vegas line: Pittsburgh -5.5
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
- Field: Kentucky Blue Grass
Game-time: Sunday, October 17th at 8:20 pm
TV: NBC (Local on WPXI-TV)
- Announcers: Mike Tirico (play-by-play) Chris Collinsworth (analyst) | Michele Tafoya (reporter)
Local radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM & 970 WBGG-AM
- Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Craig Wolfley (analyst) | Max Starks (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
National Radio: Westwood One Sports
- Announcers: Ryan Radtke (play-by-play) Ryan Harris (analyst)
Internet broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
Weather at kickoff: 50 and cloudy. Winds out of the West at 5-10 mph.
Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers
Overall record: 2-3 (4th in AFC North)
Last game: Steelers 27 Broncos 19
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (14th Season with Steelers)
- Overall regular-season record: 147-81-1
- Playoff record: 8-8 (Qualified for playoffs 9 times)
- 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers Team Roster
- Steelers Team/Individual Statistics
- Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 Schedule
Strengths: Finally showed some balance last week between pass and rushing attack. Ben Roethlisberger is at his best throwing around 25 times a game.
Weaknesses: Being consistent… the offensive line looks to be improving each week, so this week will be a big sign of what to expect after the bye and what to work on.
- Points per game: 18.8
- Total yards per game: 330.8
- Passing yards per game: 257.2
- Rushing yards per game: 73.6
Starting Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger | Back-up: Mason Rudolph
- Ben Roethlisberger has 1,286 yards passing with six touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been sacked 11 times. Big Ben is best suited dropping back to pass around 25 times a game.
Starting Running Back: Najee Harris | Back-up: Benny Snell, Jr. and Kalen Ballage.
- Rookie Najee Harris is getting stronger by the week, and has rushed for 307 yards and two scores this year. Harris also leads the team with 28 catches for 198 yards and a score.
Wide Receivers: Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, James Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud, Cody White, and Anthony Miller.
- Diontae Johnson is 2nd on the team with 25 catches for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Chase Claypool has started to step his game up and has 20 receptions for 341 yards and a touchdown. Juju Smith-Schuster has been lost for the year with a shoulder injury. James Washington has caught nine passes for 99 yards. Ray-Ray McCloud has five receptions for 36 yards. Cody White will look to make the most of his chances, but had better not drop anymore passes like he did vs Denver. Anthony Miller has been signed and will see time eventually.
Ends: Eric Ebron, Pat Friermuth, and Zach Gentry.
- Eric Ebron has five catches for 37 yards, while rookie Pat Friermuth also has 11 receptions for 100 yards and a score. Zach Gentry has logged three catches for 21 yards.
Placekicker: Chris Boswell
Extra Points: 10-10
Field Goals: 8-9
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 3-3
- 30-39 yards: 0-0
- 40-49 yards: 3-4
- 50+ yards: 2-2
Steelers Defense (Base 3-4)
Strengths: Great pass rush lead by T.J. Watt that limits opposing run game as well.
Weaknesses: DE Stephon Tuitt is still on IR. Bad tackling and communication has lead to some blown plays this year.
- Points per game allowed: 22.4
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 361
- Passing yards allowed: 260.6
- Rushing yards allowed: 100.4
- Sacks: 10
- Interceptions: 2
Defensive Line: Cam Heyward, Isaiah Buggs, and Chris Wormley.
- Cam Heyward and Chris Wormley bookend Isaiah Buggs in the middle. Wormley will be in for starter Stephon Tuitt who is out indefinitely. Heyward has a sack and a fumble recovery.
Linebackers: T.J. Watt, Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, and Melvin Ingram/Alex Highsmith.
- Defensive Player of the Year candidate T.J. Watt leads a solid linebacker corps alongside Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, a Pro Bowler acquired from Jacksonville, and Alex Highsmith. Expect to see plenty of time for Melvin Ingram, another former Pro Bowl player who began his career with the Chargers. Watt has five sacks so far. Bush had ten tackles in his first game back, but only nine since. Schobert is 2nd the team with 34 tackles.
Secondary: Joe Haden, Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Sutton*.
- Joe Haden and Cameron Sutton will be at the corners with Minkah Fitzpatrick at free safety and Terrell Edmunds at strong safety. CB James Pierre will see plenty of field time in the nickle. Fitzpatrick has a team leading 38 tackles. Edmunds has one the Steelers two interceptions. Pierre will start in place of the injured Sutton this week, but expect to see more time for Justin Layne as well. Former first rounder Karl Joseph has been elevated to the 53 man roster and will play this week.
Steelers Special Teams
Punter: Pressley Harvin III
Kickoff Returners: Ray-Ray McCloud
Punt Returner: Ray-Ray McCloud
Scouting report: McCloud is averaging 24.8 yard per kickoff return and 9.0 yards per punt return.
Scouting the Seattle Seahawks
Overall record: 2-3 (Tied-3rd in NFC West)
Last game: Rams 26 Seahawks 17
Head coach: Pete Carroll (12th season with Seattle)
- Overall regular-season record: 147-97-1 | 114-66-1 with Seattle
Strengths: Tough to say with Russell Wilson sidelined. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett still present threats at wide receiver.
Weaknesses: How well will Geno Smith perform as starter with Wilson out? Seattle’s line has allowed 13 sacks.
- Points per game: 24
- Total Offense per game: 369.4
- Passing yards per game: 265.4
- Rushing yards per game: 104
Starting Quarterback: Russell Wilson* | Back-up: Geno Smith
- Geno Smith takes over with Wilson out. Smith has thrown for 131 yards with one touchdown and one interception, and has rushed for 23 yards.
Starting Running Back: Chris Carson* | Back-up: Alex Collins and Travis Homer
- Chris Carson leads the team with 232 yards on the ground and three scores, but is out this week. Alex Collins 124 yards and a TD in relief of Collins. Travis Homer will see an uptick in play with Collins out.
Wide Receivers: D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Freddy Swain, and Penny Hart
- D.K. Metcalf has 25 receptions for 383 yards and a team leading five touchdowns. Tyler Lockett also has 25 catches for 390 yards and three TD’s. Freddy Swain is third on the team with 10 catches for 110 yards.
Tight Ends: Walt Dissly and Gerald Everett
- Walt Dissly has contributed eight catches for 110 yards and Gerald Everett has caught eight passes for 77 yards and a score.
Placekicker: Jason Myers
Extra Points: 15-16
Field Goals: 3-5
- 1-19 yards: 0-0
- 20-29 yards: 2-2
- 30-39 yards: 3-3
- 40-49 yards: 0-1
- 50+ yards: 1-1
Seahawks Defense (Base 4-3)
Strengths: Decent pass rush, but not much else.
Weaknesses: Seattle gives up a ton of yards on both sides of the ball and giving up over 25 points per game.
- Points per game allowed: 25.2
- Total offense yards per game allowed: 450.8
- Passing yards allowed: 305.6
- Rushing yards allowed: 145.2
- Sacks: 10
- Interceptions: 2
Scouting report: LB Bobby Wagner leads the team with 58 tackles and has a sack. Safety Quandre Diggs has 36 tackles and two interceptions. Defensive end Darrell Taylor leads the team with four sacks.
Seahawks Special Teams
Kickoff Returners: DeeJay Dallas
Punt Returner: Freddy Swain
Scouting report: DeeJay Dallas is averaging 18.9 yards per kickoff return. Freddy Swain is averaging 7.8 yards per punt return.
Steelers vs Seahawks History
Series History: Began in 1977
Overall Record: 9-10
- Home: 7-3
- Away: 1-7
- Postseason: 1-0
Streak: Seahawks won the last two games.
Last regular-season meeting: Seahawks Win, 28-26 (Sept. 15, 2019)
Last postseason meeting: Super Bowl XL- Steelers Win, 21-10 (Feb. 5, 2006)
Injury Report (10/15/21)
- Out: WR Juju Smith-Schuster (Shoulder), DT Carlos Davis (Knee)
- Doubtful: None reported
- Questionable: None reported
- Out: RB Chris Carson (neck), QB Russell Wilson (right finger), T Cedric Ogbuehi (biceps/chest)
- Doubtful: None reported
- Questionable: None reported
From Midland, "The Basketball Capital of Pennsylvania", located 35 miles NW of Pittsburgh along the Ohio River. This former steel town was home to storied athletes such as Dave Alston, Norm Van Lier, Simmie Hill, and the legendary 1965 Midland High School Basketball Team.
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As Editor of Pittsburgh SportsNation, Mike Drakulich provides top notch opinions and coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers football & basketball, Robert Morris Colonials basketball, and Duquesne Dukes basketball, as well as all sports teams that represent Western Pennsylvania, including WPIAL High School Football.
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