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3 things we learned about the Steelers

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The Sports Xchange

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers put up big offensive numbers but that is not why they were excited about their first win of the season.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, wide receiver Antonio Brown had 195 receiving yards and running back DeAngelo Williams tied a franchise record with three touchdown runs as the Steelers built a 26-point halftime lead and rolled to a 43-18 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Though the Steelers finished with 454 total yards after racking up 464 in its season-opening loss to the New England Patriots, it was the play of the young defense that made the victory satisfying for them. Pittsburgh held the 49ers out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach, and also stopped San Francisco (1-1) on downs twice inside the 5-yard line in the second half.

“We didn’t do as well as we would have liked a week ago and we responded accordingly,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “We met this week’s challenges. We weren’t perfect. We gave up some big plays, particularly in the second half, but we’ll take the win.”

Roethlisberger completed 21 of 27 passes and Brown had nine receptions, his last going for a 7-yard touchdown with 7:43 left to close the scoring. Brown became the fourth player in Steelers’ history with 400 career receptions, joining Hines Ward, Heath Miller and John Stallworth.

Williams rushed for 77 yards on 20 carries and scored on runs of 2, 2 and 1 yards as he again filled in for Pro Bowl running back LeVeon Bell, who served the second game of a two-game suspension for violating the NFLs’ code of conduct. Williams had 127 yards in the opener after signing as a free agent in the offseason following nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers.

3 things we learned about the Steelers

1. The young defense doesn’t always collapse in the red zone as they limited the 49ers to one conversion in four trips inside the 20 and stopped them on downs twice in second half.

In its opening-night loss at New England, the Steelers allowed the Patriots to convert on all four red-zone opportunities. Coach Mike Tomlin has been critical of his defense’s lack on-field communication throughout the preseason and it was improved in Week 2.

2. The Steelers might reach quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s goal of scoring 30 points a game this season. They rolled up 454 yards on Sunday after a 464-yard effort against the Patriots. Wide receiver Antonio Brown already has 328 yards on 18 receptions this season and Roethlisberger has thrown for 720 yards.

3. Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams still has something left. Williams tied a franchise record with three touchdowns runs as he rushed for 77 on 20 carries, starting for a second straight week while Pro Bowl running back Le’Veon Bell served the final game of the his two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s code of conduct. Though Williams has rushed for 204 in two games after being signed as a free agent in the offseason following nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Bell is undoubtedly the No. 1 back. However, Williams should help keep Bell fresh following a 373-touch season in 2014 that included 290 rushes and 83 receptions.

Etc.

–LB Ryan Shazier left in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 43-18 win over San Francisco with a minor shoulder injury, the only negative on what was easily the second-year pro’s best day in the NFL. He had a game-high 15 tackles, including 11 solos, three for loss and a sack while also forcing and recovering a fumble. The Steelers’ first-round draft pick last year, Shazier struggled with injuries and inconsistency as a rookie. However, he has led the Steelers in tackles in both games this season, including seven in the opening-night loss at New England.

–WR Antonio Brown had yet another big game with nine receptions on 11 targets for 195 yards and a touchdown. He extended his NFL record to 34 consecutive games with at least five receptions and 50 yards. Since the streak started during the opening week of the 2013 season, Brown leads the NFL with 369 targets, 257 receptions and 3,525 receiving yards. Brown became the fourth player in Steelers’ history with 400 receptions, joining Hines Ward, Heath Miller and John Stallworth.

–RB DeAngelo Williams is showing that he will warrant some carries when Pro Bowl RB Le’Veon Bell returns next Sunday against the Rams at St. Louis following his two-game suspension for violating NFL’s conduct policy. Williams tied the team record Sunday with three rushing touchdowns while running for 77 yards on 20 carries. Signed as a free agent in the offseason following nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers, Williams has 204 rushing yards in two games.

–QB Ben Roethlisberger improved his regular-season record to 107-53, tying Terry Bradshaw’s franchise record for wins by a quarterback, as he completed 21 of 27 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Roethlisberger also raised his record to 15-4 at home against NFC teams.


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