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PITTSBURGH (Sports Radio 93.7 The Fan) – The Steelers are 1-0 on the young NFL season after winning a glorified exhibition game Sunday in Cleveland against the lowly Browns.
This Sunday, however, will be a different animal as the team plays their first home game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings.
If the Steelers have any hope of defeating the Vikings, they cannot play like they did Sunday in Cleveland.
Here’s five areas they must be concerned with
1. Penalties: The Steelers had 13 penalties for 144 yards Sunday in Cleveland. Let that sink in for a second. They lucked out because of the Browns inability to move the football with any consistency. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said in his weekly news Conference Tuesday, “When you have that many penalties, it just kills drives.” A team like the Vikings with Sam Bradford under center will feast on stupid mistakes like that. Did you know that Bradford has 9 touchdowns and 1 interception over his last three games. If the Steelers make mistakes, the Vikings will feast on them.
2. Running The Football: Last Sunday, The Steelers totaled 35 net yards rushing…against Cleveland, yes you read that right. Meanwhile, the Saints, who played the Vikings last week, totaled 60 net yards rushing (and that’s with Adrian Peterson) and were defeated by the Vikings by 10 points. The Steelers must find a way to get the rust off Le’Veon Bell and get him the football by any means possible if they hope to be successful.
3. Use Your Playmakers: In addition to handing the ball to Bell, and hopefully throwing him the ball, the Steelers can’t be forced into becoming one dimensional. Ben Roethlisberger cannot rely on Antonio Brown to have 10-plus catch games all the time. He must begin to use stud Martavis Bryant to expand the field. Bryant is a matchup nightmare for any safety that lines up against him and Roethlisberger must take advantage of that.
4. Overcome Injuries: The Steelers must head into Sunday’s game expecting defensive end Stephon Tuitt not to play. Tuitt injured his left biceps in Sunday’s win over the Browns and there is currently no timetable for his return. While Tuitt not playing would be a massive blow to the defense, there are other injuries the Steelers are watching. Bud Dupree is dealing with a shoulder injury and J.J. Wilcox is still in the concussion protocol. Other members of the team must step up and fill the void left by injuries.
5. Browns “Hangover”: Yes, the Steelers beat the Browns. But, they were supposed to. The Steelers can’t get caught getting too high on themselves just because they are 1-0 and defeated an average team. If they do, they’ll be heading into Week 3 as a 1-1 team instead of a 2-0 team.