Pittsburgh Steelers Week 2 Winners and Losers

The Steelers hosted the Vikings this past Sunday and emerged victorious for the second straight week – this time winning pretty easily in a 26-9 contest. There were a lot of players worth mentioning in this game (mostly for a good reason). However, even in a good game there are always going to be a few bad things worth mentioning. Here are my Steelers winners and losers from week 2 vs the Minnesota Vikings.

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Winners

Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger bounced back from an up-and-down performance against the Browns last week. Big Ben went 23 of 35 for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns. Yes, he did have a few erred throws (at least one of which could have been intercepted), but he also got robbed of statistics with two deep balls drawing pass interference down the field.

Ben wasn’t afraid to let the ball fly this week and it paid off for the Steelers.

Martavis Bryant

Martavis Bryant was my biggest winner of this game. Per snap, nobody on either team or either side of the ball made a greater difference than number 10. Despite seeing limited playing time and garnering just four targets, he caught three of them for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Bryant also drew a pass interference when he beat Trae Waynes deep down the field. ┬áSo essentially, Bryant was responsible for roughly 130 yards and a touchdown on just 4 looks his way. Can’t do much better in limited opportunity. Martavis is still getting back into the swing of things and isn’t playing nearly as many snaps as he will be later in the season. Expect big things as the season goes on.

Cameron Heyward

Heyward was a beast from the gate in this one. Though he never sacked the quarterback, Cam was disruptive all day – penetrating into the backfield and either disrupting the play or dropping ball carriers behind the line of scrimmage.

Heyward finished with 6 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits. Even still, stats don’t tell the whole tale in this performance.

Artie Burns

Yes, the Steelers were going against a backup quarterback in Case Keenum, but Burns did an outstanding job on his side. Though Burns was tagged with a ticky-tack pass interference, he held his side of the field in check most of the game.

Mike Hilton and Joe Haden also did well, and at least deserve an honorable mention.

Ryan Shazier

It was a relatively quiet game for Ryan Shazier (who typically stands out more than any Steelers defender). Though he didn’t have the splash play we have come to know from him, he had a very solid outing and made some plays that don’t go down in the stat book (like blowing up the guard and allowing someone to make a tackle for a loss, for instance).

Shazier totaled eight tackles and a pass deflection that was essentially a dropped interception late in the game.

Tyler Matakevich

Surprised to see Dirty Red on this list in back to back weeks? You shouldn’t be.

Matakevich has done nothing but impressed since he stepped foot on the practice field two years ago. After making the play of the game last week with a blocked punt that went for a touchdown against the Browns, Matakevich had yet another heads-up special teams play in week two. On a fake punt, Dirty Red had the awareness to follow the gunner and deflect the pass on a would-be first down that would have kept the offense on the field.

He’s basically only playing special teams as of now, but he sure is fun to watch.

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Losers

Alejandro Villanueva

I’m not sure exactly what’s going on with AV, but he hasn’t looked like the left tackle he was last year in his first two games. It’s not yet reason to panic, as he still rated out well in week one and had a very difficult week two matchup vs Everson Griffen. There were reports that Big Al was sick or dealing with heat-related issues.

Whatever the reason, The Steelers blindside protector needs to sure things up if he wants to earn all that money he was given this offseason.

Mike Mitchell/Sean Davis

It wasn’t a great day for either safety this past Sunday. Yes, they both made a few nice plays here and there, but they also had lapses in coverage and allowed big throws down the field (like allowing Case Keenum to pick up a first down on 3rd and 20).

I’m not too worried about their safety duo going forward, as they shouldn’t be in the losers column too often.

Le’Veon Bell

I hate to say it, but Le’Veon Bell deserves to be on this list. I’m not trying to be a hater, but I’m also not blind. Bell is having a very rough start to the season. We can blame the offensive line all we want (and part of Bell’s lack of success may come from this).

However, there’s no getting around the fact that Bell simply isn’t playing good. With a whopping 27 carries, Bell managed a mere 87 yards (3.2 average). He was even worse in the receiving game where he had just 4 yards on 4 targets.

With Bell struggling and the game controlled by Pittsburgh, I was shocked Conner didn’t get more looks, as his lone carry of the game went for 9 yards. Bell will be rusty due to not practicing with the team all offseason, and I don’t believe he is as bad as he has been playing. He also had a tough matchup against the Vikings stingy defense.

Still, Bell’s lack of explosion and quickness running the ball is certainly something fans need to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. As Le’Veon gets back into the swing of things, it should be uphill from here.

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