The Steelers put on such a tremendous show for the home folks in a 43-18 victory over the 49ers at Heinz Field on Sunday, the only thing worth complaining about was that the game had to end.
Go ahead, find something to complain about regarding the Steelers 43-18 victory over San Francisco on Sunday afternoon in the 2015 home opener at Heinz Field.
I dare you.
The Steelers offense had 453 yards and six touchdowns. Sure, you could complain about that mistake-filled first drive, but that would just be mean, especially after the offense scored touchdowns on its next four series. You may want to protest the 409 yards the 49ers put up on Sunday–including 335 through the air by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But most of those came in the second half, after Pittsburgh had established a 29-3 lead.
Speaking of the second half. You may want to bemoan the fact that the Steelers let the throttle off and allowed San Francisco to get back in the game. Obviously (very obviously) you would bemoaning a fantasy. San Francisco scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and the Steelers followed up each one with a score of their own, and did so in such a quick fashion, it was as if they were saying, “We don’t know how to not score fast.”
Fact is, there was so little to complain about when analyzing and reviewing Pittsburgh’s first win of the season. It was such an enjoyable and thorough beating, and the kind of game a really good team has against an opponent that was believed to be inferior coming in. Even the defense, a much-maligned unit if there ever was one, looked dominant. And if you really want to be fair, you could say the 49ers first touchdown of the day–a 14-yard pass from Kaepernick to Anquan Boldin on fourth and goal early in the fourth quarter–could just as easily have been called an incomplete pass.
Pittsburgh’s defense, which never gets sacks, recorded five of them on Sunday. And of those five, four and a half came courtesy of recent high-end draft picks. Bud Dupree (first round pick, 2015) had one; Stephon Tuitt (second round pick, 2014) had one and a half; Cameron Heyward (first round pick, 2011) had one; and Ryan Shazier (first round pick, 2014) had one. I saved Shazier for last because I also wanted to talk about those 15 tackles (11 solo), a fumble that he recovered so fast that he looked like a kitten pouncing on a treat, and the fact that he looks like the real deal if he can stay healthy. Some might say the Steelers have neglected their secondary in recent years (something you can complain about in March), but they have invested pretty heavily in their front-seven, and it looks like it could start to pay off sooner rather than later.
Back to the offense. If you wanted to, you could complain about the time-of-possession (the 49ers won that battle, 36:59-23:01), but time-of-possession is what you worry about when you’re quarterback is Colin Kaepernick and you’re going up against a world-class passer who can score on you at any moment. The Steelers don’t have Colin Kaepernick. They have Ben Roethlisberger; he fits into the latter category, and he doesn’t care about clocks, because they only slow him down. Forty-three points in 23 minutes of possession; that’s almost two-points a minute. (There are some college basketball teams who can’t do that.)
Sure, the 49ers had drives of 17, 18 and 15 plays, but only one of them led to points, and those came via a field goal. Besides, Pittsburgh’s first team defense needs all the reps it can get–especially after only getting a few in five preseason games–so I’d say the extra exposure is a good thing.
If you really feel like complaining about something, you could show concern for Josh Scobee and his missed extra-point, which, when combined with his two field-goal misses from Week 1, makes him seem very unreliable and the total opposite of Shaun Suisham. But who needs an extra-point when you can get an extra-extra point? Seriously, do the Steelers ever not convert when they go for two? They didn’t on their two chances on Sunday.
No matter how you slice it, the only thing disappointing about the Steelers game against the 49ers on Sunday was that it had to end.