News & Analysis

NFL Week 2 PFF ReFocused: Pittsburgh Steelers 26, Denver Broncos 21

It wasn’t pretty, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will take it. A 59-yard run from James Conner put the nail in the coffin in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos that was far from a sure thing despite Denver quarterback Drew Lock going down with an injury.

For the Broncos, the loss comes second to the prognosis for their second-year quarterback. This isn’t the start they had in mind, as their playoff hopes look all but dashed if Lock misses an extended period of time.

Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.

Story of the Game

Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel was forced into action midway through the first quarter, and considering the circumstances, he certainly exceeded expectations. Just like last week, the Steelers' offensive line was utterly dominant. The unit pressured Lock and Driskel on 28 of their combined 47 dropbacks.

They easily have the highest pressure rate of any defense in the NFL this season. Left guard Dalton Risner, center Lloyd Cushenberry III and right tackle Elijah Wilkinson all allowed four-plus pressures on the day, and every single Broncos offensive lineman allowed multiple pressures. Those poor performances correlated with dominant performances from Tyson Alualu, Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt.

The outstanding effort from Pittsburgh's defensive line masked Ben Roethlisberger‘s up-and-down day. While he went for over 300 yards, Roethlisberger had a pair of turnover-worthy plays despite being barely pressured (seven times on 42 dropbacks). He was helped out by Diontae Johnson going off for eight catches for 92 yards with two broken tackles. However, Johnson also dropped a pass to sum up an inconsistent day for the Steelers' offense.

Sep 20, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels (38) and cornerback James Pierre (42) and safety Jordan Dangerfield (37) and fullback Derek Watt celebrate a safety by Watt against the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 26-21. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Watch

Another week, another highlight reel grab from Chase Claypool. This time, he took fellow rookie Michael Ojemudia to the house for an 84-yard touchdwown. It was a rough one for Ojemudia, who allowed nearly 150 yards and two scores on his own.

He wasn’t the only Bronocs rookie who struggled, though. Center Lloyd Cushenberry couldn't hold up against Tyson Alualu, allowing eight pressures on 47 pass-blocking snaps. That was the complete opposite from what we saw from Steelers guard Kevin Dotson, who made his first career start. He didn’t allow a single pressure all day on 42 pass-blocking snaps in an impressive debut.

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