Canton, Ohio was the scene for an emotional hall of fame ceremony for one Jerome Bettis, arguably the greatest Steelers running back of all time.
After the ceremony you'd think the Steelers would raring to play, and beat, the Minnesota Vikings, if for no other reason than to make Jerome's long awaited HoF induction that bit sweeter.
Sadly the Steelers lost 14-3 in a game where the majority of the starters sat and watched. Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell, Martavis Bryant, Shamarko Thomas, Jarvis Jones and James Harrison were just some of the names not suited up to play that Sunday, so the task was left to Landry Jones and a whole host of backups.
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Poor QB Play
Now, Landry Jones was the quarterback all night for the Steelers, something a lot of fans and coaches were eager to see. Unfortunately for Landry his play was something of a let down.
His stat line read 16 out of 32 pass attempts for no TD's and no INT's. His game management was bad and pre snap penalties became and issue, he was unprepared for one snap and showed fluctuating accuracy and arm strength.
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Overall a bad night for Landry, a guy who by now in his third year with the Steelers should be maturing into something better than what he displayed last Sunday.
Dri Archer, the speedster the Steelers drafted last year as a gadget player, showed more dazzle and growth coming into his second year with the team. He combined as a runner, receiver and returner for over 90 yards, something if added to the already explosive Steelers offence, would just make it unreal.
Archer showed more confidence running around defenders than away from them while carrying the football, using his pure athletic skills to his advantage.
The Steelers defence as a whole played well in my opinion, yes they gave up 14 points allowing a 34-yard TD pass (something the Steelers seriously need to stop doing). But in the grand scheme of the game 14 points is nothing, and when you examine the fact that they held the Vikings to only 3-of-13 on third down shows how well the unit played together.
Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons in particular, got their hands dirty on a few of those third down plays. Shazier blowing up the fullback on one play, allowing the rest of the defence to wrap up the runner and Timmons dishing out a dig hit on a receiver to halt a Vikings drive.
These two showed signs that if healthy they could be a great combo this upcoming season.
A really depressing outcome of the game despite the result, was the injury Shaun Suisham suffered. A thigh injury that turned out to be a torn ACL that has sidelined him for the season. The Steelers will have to search through a free agency pool of mediocre kickers to find one that can be their effective starter, immediately. Jay Feely would be the best option in my opinion.
A few other points to mention:
The offensive line played mediocre and inconsistent throughout the night once the starters left the game, while the special teams gave up a near punt return on a 62-yarder that ended on the Steelers one yard line.
Jesse James, the rookie TE out of Penn State, dropped a TD pass and had two fumbles, prompting Mike Tomlin to say "knuckle up".
The overall outcome of the game was frustrating, with Jerome going into the HoF I expected the Steelers to put on a better showing; but that is the beauty of pre season, it means nothing, allowing teams to figure out all the negatives i mentioned and build upon the positives.
I look forward to seeing more growth out of the defence, more explosion from Dri Archer and I eagerly await to see who the Steelers sign as their new kicker.
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