Steelers stumble in victory, salvaging a narrow win over hapless Browns

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The good news is that the Steelers won their 2017 regular season opener by the score of 21-18. As everyone knows, of course, a win is a win. But surely as we look forward to the matchups awaiting the Black-and-gold during the coming weeks, Steelers Nation must be more than a bit concerned about the team’s overall performance in Cleveland which, by any measure, can be judged as uninspired and error-ridden.

While head coach Mike Tomlin and his franchise quarterback deftly ignored the elephant in the room during their post-game press conference, it was evident to anyone watching this game that the Steelers had done just barely enough on the shores of Lake Erie to squeak out a win against arguably the NFL’s worst team.

How bad was it? Let us count the ways. After one-and-a-half quarters of play, the Steelers’ offense had converted only two first downs and only one out of four third-downs, netting a mere 46 yards of total offense. Given such an underwhelming performance, it seemed somehow fitting that, when Antonio Brown recorded his biggest gain of the day near the end of the first half with a nifty catch-and-run for 50 yards, No. 84 needed to snag a tipped pass from Ben Roethlisberger which just as easily might have been intercepted.

Instead of trying to establish the running attack early in the game as a way to shake off the preseason cobwebs, the Steelers unsuccessfully attempted a weird combination of bubble screens and other short-range passes while their grabby receivers negated nearly every solid gain by drawing ill-timed holding penalties.

On defense, disaster struck early in the first quarter when Stephon Tuitt suffered a …

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