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Paul Zeise: Steelers were more gritty than good in win over Bills

Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in Football

The Steelers' win against the Bills on Sunday has caused a lot of otherwise-intelligent people to go off the rails and lose perspective.

It was a nice win over a team we think is going to be in the hunt for the Super Bowl, on the road in front of a hostile crowd, with six rookies in the lineup, and they had to walk 10 miles to school uphill both ways, and ...

Enough, please. It wasn't a playoff game. It wasn't even a game to get into the playoffs. It was Week 1 of the NFL season, which is now 17 games long. It was a great win for the Steelers and they did some things really well, but could we come back from fantasy land and gain some perspective?

Did we not learn anything from all of the Super Bowl talk after 11-0 last season? This was one game, there are 16 left, and a lot of things will happen between now and the start of the playoffs.

This game reminded me of a lot of the wins the Steelers had in those first 11 games last year, in that they were a lot more resourceful — and dare I say a little lucky — than actually good. They won the game and that's all that matters, but nothing I saw Sunday changes my thoughts about what the Steelers are: a playoff team with a few fatal flaws.

Let's start here, though, and that is with the legitimate strengths of the team.

 

The front seven is elite and clearly going to be dominant the entire season if they stay healthy. Cam Heyward was a man among boys. T.J. Watt is not human. Tyson Alualu treated the guys trying to block him like wet dishrags and flopped them around. Melvin Ingram may be the best value of all the new players the Steelers signed.

That unit is going to be a problem for every team. They are fast, they are aggressive, they are tough-minded guys and they play with a little bit of a chip. They will get after quarterbacks and make some running backs consider retirement.

The same can be said about the Steelers' receivers, who may be collectively the best group in the league right now. The receiving trio of Diontae Johnson, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool has a chance to be dynamic and made some big time plays and catches.

Those two things are where the over-the-top platitudes need to stop, however. And we knew they would both be elite, so it isn't a surprise.

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