What We Learned From Week 1 Of The NFL Season

[What We Learned is returning for the 2021 N.F.L. season with a new writer and a new look.] How dare you doubt a team coached by Mike T...


[What We Learned is returning for the 2021 N.F.L. season with a new writer and a new look.]

How dare you doubt a team coached by Mike Tomlin?

There are only a few guarantees in today’s NFL: Tom Brady will eat his avocado ice cream and win the Super Bowl. Jerry Jones will do something absurd to extend the Dallas Championship drought. And Tomlin will keep his Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl contention.

Always.

Those Steelers barely generated a decibel of buzz going into Week 1. Heck, it was a shock Pittsburgh even wanted to bring back 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger to quarterback.

The Buffalo Bills were the team ready to take the next step. Josh Allen was the go-to quarterback. And all the Tomlin Steelers have done is run 200 miles north, strut into Highmark Stadium and remind the whole NFL, with a punishing 23-16 triumph, that they’re not going anywhere.

This is of course what Tomlin’s teams have been doing for 14 seasons.

Was it pretty? No. But “not pretty” is when Tomlin’s teams are historically the most dangerous. Above all, Tomlin’s teams smell of blood.

That’s what happened with a ridiculous playing decision by the Bills early in the fourth quarter.

Facing a fourth and a 1 on the 41-yard line from Pittsburgh – and with a 10-6 lead early in the fourth quarter – the Bills wisely gave it a go. After all, it was the Buffalo team that got their head in the guillotine a year ago by opting for field goals against the Kansas City Chiefs powered by Patrick Mahomes. during the AFC Championship game in January. A little courage in the game is a welcome change.

What happened next was more than bizarre.

Allen turned to pass back to Matt Breida, and cornerback Cameron Sutton was there to lasso back to the ground for a 7-yard loss.

Four games later, Pittsburgh surged.

Roethlisberger allowed Diontae Johnson to score 5 yards in the back end of the end zone. Johnson, who led the league a year ago, showed remarkable focus as he locked the ball while dragging his back foot.

On the next haul, cornerback James Pierre – the latest local and undrafted future star in Pittsburgh – struck what would have been a long completion for Emmanuel Sanders.

Two games later, the Steelers blocked a punt for a touchdown to come up, 20-10.

And after a placement from Bills put pressure on Old Man Ben to finish, Roethlisberger did just that. A pair of vintage slow-mo throws at JuJu Smith-Schuster (24 yards) and Chase Claypool (14 yards) created a decisive field goal.

  • The Pittsburgh defense, say it with me now, looks elite. Up front, everyone took turns around the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Allen, effectively turning it into the 2018 rookie version – flipping receivers, skidding in the dirt, groping, and looking downright nervous for three hours in a row. ‘in a row.

  • TJ Watt is worth every penny. There are convenience stores all over that defense, starting with the man who signed a four-year, $ 112 million extension last week. Watt represented five of the team’s eight QB hits.

  • It’s clear the Steelers want rookie Najee Harris to roll in 2021, keep the games tight and let Roethlisberger win in fourth. He sold. He is still. It is easily remembered. But he also thrived in all possible situations.

  • We won’t see Roethlisberger throw him 60 times in another playoff loss this season – these Steelers can dictate the tempo.

  • And for the whole “Last Dance” conference in Green Bay, the Steelers are also capable of sending their quarterback in the lead this season.

Long before Aaron Rodgers hit the headlines for four months, there was another unhappy quarterback in this league: Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks nearly divorced after nine seasons. It was close too. Much closer than you think. Chicago bears thought it was a done deal.

Instead, Wilson and the Seahawks realized they were at their best together and everyone was hoping that new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron would basically get all the parties together to sing a little “Kumbaya” around the campfire.

Have they already done this in week 1.

Against one of the best defenses in the NFL on the road, Wilson was sublime as he led Seattle to a 28-16 victory over Indianapolis. The eight-time pro Bowler finished with 18 of 23 passes for 254 yards with four touchdowns, no picks and a 152.3 passer rating. Wilson’s 69-yard moon ball touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett was also a thing of beauty, going 60 yards in the air.

Granted, we were teased like this in 2020. Wilson was off for a good two months. Then the whole offense was gone, and Seattle almost ended an era. Here is the reflection this Wilson and this offense are both here to stay.

At least for the rest of this season.

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Newsrust - US Top News: What We Learned From Week 1 Of The NFL Season
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