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Insider Only Week 2: Steelers – 49ers What We Learned


An explosive quick strike offense and signature plays on defense, that’s the Steelers winning recipe this season.

Against a favorable opponent the Steelers delivered a beat down of the 49ers by putting the game away before the third quarter began.

After a punt on their opening possession, the Steelers offense scored on four consecutive drives, 8 plays – 83 yards, 7 plays – 80 yards, 1 play – 35 yards, 6 plays – 42 yards.

QB Ben Roethlisberger is at his best when the Steelers play with the type of tempo, pace they showed at times vs the 49ers. Tight end Matt Spaeth played in around 25% of snaps with Roethlisberger under center and fullback Will Johnson played in just 10% of the snaps.

The Steelers played with tempo and had playmakers on the field which kept the 49ers off balanced.

“They were giving us a lot of different looks, bringing the safeties down, and we were throwing balls,” Roethlisberger said. “(And) we have different options where we thought we were getting them off-balance, but we just got to the line as quick as we could. To me, that’s the balance that we need to have.”

Pittsburgh had explosive plays of 59, 56, 48 and 41 yards from the no-huddle.

Against the Vikings in week 1, the 49ers excelled at stopping the Vikings on third down with exotic blitzes. Pittsburgh came in with a great game plan of spreading the 49ers out and forced their linebackers in coverage.

Pittsburgh went 6-10 with Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 244 yards on third down.

Darrius Heyward-Bey is loved in that locker room and his ability to stretch the field against a young 49ers secondary played a part in also keeping the 49ers off balance defensively. The 2009 seventh overall pick had four catches (in five targets) for 77 yards and a 35-yard touchdown. He also had a 41-yard reception.

“Their defense was holding on for dear life,” guard David DeCastro said via the Tribune-Review.

For the Steelers defense it was a day of signature plays. Five sacks and they rose to the occasion at the right moments.

Defensive ends Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt dominated the line of scrimmage and the front-seven overall did an effective job at collapsing to the outside that forced Colin Kaepernick to step up in the pocket and not be able to create plays with his legs.

The Steelers game planned very well against a rookie head coach and players stuck to the game plan.

For the defense, though, it was still a mixed bag and might have been one of those days where things just bounced their way. This was a 49ers personnel group that the Steelers matched up against much favorable than they do against teams that spread them out and gash them with zone running schemes.

In the first half San Francisco held the ball for 17:45 and averaged 4.1 yards per carry, despite Carlos Hyde being hobbled. The 49ers, though, managed just three points.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and say the defense has been reborn. Baby steps? Maybe, but this performance was all about the Steelers offense getting ahead which took San Francisco quickly out of their game plan.


1. Antonio Brown | 9 Receptions – 195 Yards – 1 Touchdown |

On 11 targets, Brown had 9 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown as it marked the 34th straight game with at least 5 catches, 50 yards, and 13th straight regular season game (14 straight including post-season) with at least 7 catches and 70 yards.

Brown haunted the 49ers on 3rd down in the game. The Steelers third possession of the game (leading 8-3, on a 3rd and 6 at the Steelers own 39) Roethlisberger connected with Brown for a 59 yard gain, setting up a DeAngelo Williams two yard touchdown run.

In the second half Roethlisberger and Brown would hook up for a 56 yard reception on 3rd and 3. The catch would setup Brown’s seven yard touchdown catch, two plays later.

On third down Roethlisberger was 4/5 for 155 yards when targeting Brown.

Brown had explosive plays of 59, 56 and 28 yards on the day. Through two games the NFL’s best receiver has 18 receptions for 328 yards.

2. QB Ben Roethlisberger | 21/27 – 369 yards – 3 Touchdowns – 155.8 QB Rating

The 49ers found out very quickly they weren’t facing Teddy Bridgewater in week 2. Roethlisberger was flawless in the victory, going 21/27 for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns. Roethlisberger’s 155.8 QB rating marked the seventh time in his career he has posted a quarterback rating of 150.0 or better, tying Peyton Manning.

3. Ryan Shazier | 15 tackles (11 solo), 1 sack, 3 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery |

The Steelers passed on inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the 2014 draft Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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