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Week 1 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Cleveland Browns 18


What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers play was undisciplined as they committed 13 penalties for 144 yards. The Steelers were dominated in time of possession during the first quarter as they held the ball for only 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Most of that time was spent in a possession stifled due to offensive holding penalties. Special teams made an impact by scoring the first touchdown of the game when Anthony Chickillo recovered a blocked Browns punt in the end zone. Throughout the game, the Browns defense focused on stopping the rushing game and left plenty of room by playing off the Steelers receivers. The Steelers countered with quick short passes to Antonio Brown and Jesse James.

Cleveland Browns

Cleveland rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer showed well in his NFL debut. He led his team on two touchdown scoring drives, passing for one touchdown and running for another. While he played well, he did make some rookie mistakes. Kizer held onto the ball too long on several plays, taking seven sacks against the Steelers. He overthrew a few targets and an underthrown ball led to him throwing his lone interception of the afternoon. One last tidbit to note: Duke Johnson didn't see any handoffs in the game, instead mostly lining up as a receiver. Rookie Matthew Dayes appeared to be operating more as Isaiah Crowell's backup, seeing five touches in a reserve role. This is a development worth keeping an eye on going forward.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 24 - 36 - 263 - 2 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 3 - -8 - 0
Ben Roethlisberger produced a solid game-winning performance with 24 completions on 36 pass attempts for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns. The offense started out of the spread formation passing the ball on the Steelers first five plays. However, offensive holding penalties quickly stopped any momentum. The offense struggled getting into rhythm until late in the 2nd quarter when Roethlisberger targeted Antonio Brown on three consecutive passes which resulted in gains of 50, 11, and 19 yards. Roethlisberger finished the 7 play 91-yard drive by completing a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jesse James. On the 3rd and goal, Roethlisberger placed the ball in a small window in the middle of the end zone. Roethlisberger finished the half with 13 completions on 20 pass attempts for 148 yards and 1 touchdown. Mid 3rd quarter, Roethlisberger led a 6 play 75-yard drive which concluded with his second touchdown pass of the afternoon to James. On the drive, Roethlisberger completed passes of 14 yards to Martavis Bryant and 10 yards to LeíVeon Bell. On 3rd and goal, Roethlisberger found James peeling off of his block for the short touchdown pass. Early 4th quarter on a 3rd and 9, a pass intended for Martavis Bryant was tipped and intercepted by the Browns.

RB LeVeon Bell, 43 offensive snaps, Rush: 10 - 32 - 0, Rec: 3 - 15 - 0 (6 targets)
LeíVeon Bell finished with only 13 touches and he did not receive his first touch until the final play of the first quarter. He did not have any room to run on the limited amount of touches that he was given. At halftime, Bell totaled 4 rushes for 8 yards and 1 reception for 6 yards. Bellís timing with Ben Roethlisberger was also off on multiple short passes throughout the game. Mid 3rd quarter, Bell caught a short pass for a 10-yard reception. Bell had rushing opportunities on first and second and goal but came up short of the end zone. Late 4th quarter, Bell finished the game with a 15-yard gain while running off the right tackle.

RB James Conner, 8 offensive snaps, Rush: 4 - 11 - 0
James Conner entered the game during the Steelers 3rd offensive possession but did not make an impact with his first two rushes. Late 3rd quarter, Conner was in to start his second series of the game by running up the middle for a 5-yard gain. He didnít have any success the rest of that possession.

WR Antonio Brown, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 11 - 182 - 0 (11 targets)
Antonio Brown was the focal point of the Steelers passing game finishing with 11 receptions on 11 targets for 182 yards. Mid 2nd quarter, Brown ran an out-route for 10-yard reception. Late 2nd quarter, Brown was targeted on three consecutive plays. The first was a 50-yard reception where Brown ran a slant and caught a tipped pass before dashing up the middle of the field. Brown followed that up on the next play by running a drag route for a 11-yard reception. On the following play, Brown caught a short pass and ran for a 19-yard gain. Brown finished the half with 6 receptions for 102 yards. Early 4th quarter on 3rd and 3, Brown caught a short pass for a 9-yard reception. A couple of plays later, Brown found a soft spot in the defense for a 16-yard reception. Mid 4th quarter on 3rd and 4, Brown ran a slant for a 12-yard reception. Brown displayed amazing concentration on the play as the ball was tipped and he completed the reception while a defender was hanging on his arm. Late 4th quarter, Brown ran a crossing-route and came down with a phenomenal 38-yard reception while defended on the right sideline.

WR Martavis Bryant, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (6 targets)
Martavis Bryant struggled early dropping an easy pass and tipping another pass that almost resulted in an interception. Mid 2nd quarter, Bryant caught a quick pass but the Browns defense was there to meet him and the play resulted in no gain. Mid 3rd quarter, Bryant ran a comeback-route for a 14-yard reception.

WR Eli Rogers, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 11 - 0 (4 targets)
Eli Rogers had a quiet afternoon with only receptions. Early 2nd quarter, Eli Rogers ran a short curl route which resulted in a 9-yard reception.

TE Jesse James, 54 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 41 - 2 (8 targets)
Jesse James made an impact in the short passing game with 6 receptions for 41 yards and 2 touchdowns. Early 2nd quarter on a 3rd and 10, James was left uncovered and hauled in an easy 19-yard reception. Late 2nd quarter on a 3rd and goal, James ran a slant route for a 4-yard touchdown reception. On the play, James found an open spot in the middle of the end zone and showed good concentration completing the reception. Mid 3rd quarter while on 3rd and goal, James ran a tight end screen pass for a 2-yard touchdown reception. Late 4th quarter, James caught a short pass for an 8-yard reception.


Cleveland Browns

QB DeShone Kizer, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 30 - 222 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 17 - 1
Kizer did some good things against a tough Steelers pass rush on Sunday. He also made some rookie mistakes, as would be expected. He once again showed the arm talent that made him one of the top collegiate quarterbacks in last year's draft class before he went back to school. Kizer threw several off-balance strikes to his receivers and also had a great back-shoulder completion to Corey Coleman. He did overthrow a few receivers who were open, including Duke Johnson, who had Joe Haden beat and may have scored a touchdown had the pass been on target. Kizer's main issue is that he continues to hold onto the ball too long. He took seven sacks on Sunday, mostly on plays where he was moving around in the pocket and not getting the ball out quick enough. He did come close to completing a touchdown pass to David Njoku in the first quarter, but Njoku was held and drew a pass interference flag around the Pittsburgh two-yard line. Kizer showed the ability to make plays with his legs, running a quarterback sneak for the Browns' first touchdown of the game.

RB Isaiah Crowell, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 17 - 33 - 0, Rec: 2 - 33 - 0 (2 targets)
Crowell's best series came on the first drive of the game. He broke a few five-yard runs, although the second one was nullified by offensive holding. After that, Crowell starting having trouble finding room to operate. He was consistently stuffed at or near the line of scrimmage during the game. He did see a red zone carry from the Pittsburgh 11 yard line in the third quarter, but was quickly brought down for a two-yard gain. His best pickup of the game came on a short pass in the fourth quarter which he turned into a 23-yard gain by weaving through would-be tacklers. While the Browns have a good run-blocking offensive line, it was clear that the Steelers loaded up on stopping him in order to force DeShone Kizer to beat them.

RB Matthew Dayes, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 7 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (2 targets)
With Duke Johnson playing almost exclusively at wide receiver, Dayes saw the allotment of backup running back touches. The rookie even earned a red zone carry in the fourth quarter, although he was stuffed soon after touching the ball.

RB Duke Johnson, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (5 targets)
The Browns talked about using Johnson in the slot and as a receiver more this season and they did just that on Sunday. Johnson didn't receive a carry, although he did see five targets in the passing game. He got free against the Pittsburgh defense twice, but was overthrown by DeShone Kizer on both instances. He could have had a big game had Kizer been able to find him on at least one of those. He did limp off the field at one point in the third quarter, but returned soon after.

WR Corey Coleman, 53 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 53 - 1 (6 targets)
Coleman and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer continue to show nice chemistry together. Coleman and Kizer hooked up for several completions, including an impressive back-shoulder catch in the third quarter. Coleman also had what would have been a big gain erased by a pass interference penalty against the defense. Coleman did notch a receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter on a short-slant from three yards out. He took a huge hit at the goal line but was able to hold on for the score.

WR Kenny Britt, 52 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 13 - 0 (3 targets)
Britt's sluggish preseason carried over to the regular season against the Steelers. Britt made only one catch, a 13-yard grab on an out route in the third quarter. He and DeShone Kizer also had a miscommunication on a route in the second quarter as Kizer threw the ball toward the sideline while Britt went down the middle of the field. Britt also committed a bad drop on the team's second-to-last drive of the game. He was wide open on the play and would have picked up at least 20 yards, but he tried to turn and run with the ball before securing the catch.

TE Seth DeValve, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (5 targets)
DeValve made several big catches for the Browns against the Steelers, including a big catch to convert fourth-and-two in the fourth quarter. He had a step on his man in the second quarter, but was slightly overthrown and was unable to make a leaping catch. While he doesn't get as much notoriety as rookie tight end David Njoku, DeValve appears to be a big part of the Cleveland offense this season.

TE David Njoku, 29 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 20 - 0 (2 targets)
Njoku wasn't targeted heavily in the game, but his red zone usage in his first game was encouraging. Njoku saw a pass come his way right near the goal line during the first quarter. He reached up to make the catch but was interfered with by the Pittsburgh defender, leading to a pass interference penalty which put the ball on the Pittsburgh three-yard line. Later, on Pittsburgh's 10-yard line, he caught a short pass in the flat which he turned into a seven-yard pickup. This time he was one broken tackle away from his first NFL touchdown. Njoku is a big, athletic target for Cleveland and could be a player to watch in the red zone as he gains more experience.