PA teams top opposition in NFL Week 1

Brian Abbate, A&E Editor

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     On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers marched into Cleveland to face off against their rivals, the Browns. Over the course of Ben Roethlisberger’s career, he’s played the Browns a whopping 23 times, being as they’re in the same division. Through those games, he emerged victorious 21 times.

     Heading into Sunday, it was nearly a guarantee that the Steelers would beat the Browns, with a significantly better offense and defense in their favor. Game 24 against Cleveland started off like usual for Big Ben, as his special teams squad blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.

     However, at the end of the first quarter, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer galloped into the end zone for the Browns. It was a tie game at 7-7 through 15 minutes of action. Neither team could get much offense going in the second quarter, as both teams’ running backs, Le’Veon Bell and Isiah Crowell, struggled.

     But with 45 seconds left in the half, Big Ben hit tight end Jesse James in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown. After the extra point, it was 14-7 at the half, in favor of the Steelers.

     Roughly six minutes into the third quarter, Browns’ kicker Zane Gonzales drilled a 24-yard field goal, cutting the deficit to just four points for Cleveland. Less than four minutes later, Big Ben hit tight end Jesse James again, this time on a 2-yard pass for the touchdown. The Steelers were again up comfortably, 21-10 with a quarter of football to play.

    The last 15 minutes were pretty boring with a lack of big plays or scoring. With less than four minutes to play, DeShone Kizer hit second year wideout Corey Coleman on a 3-yard pass to bring the Browns within five points. After a successful two-point conversion in the form of an Isiah Crowell run, the Browns found themselves within three points of the Steelers, 21-18.

    The final score would remain the same at 21-18 in favor of the Steelers, giving Big Ben his 24th victory against the division rival Browns. Le’Veon Bell gained just 32 yards on the ground, adding 15 through the air. His 47 total yards of offense was incredibly unlike him, as the Steelers’ offense generally flows solely through wideout Antonio Brown and Bell. He will look to pick up the pace next week against a stout Minnesota Vikings’ defense.
The Steelers’ cross-state rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, visited the Washington Redskins on Sunday afternoon. After a solid offseason, acquiring running back LeGarrette Blount from the New England Patriots and wideout Alshon Jeffery from the Chicago Bears, the Eagles looked to show off their new look offense.

     Four minutes into the game, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz threw a bullet to receiver Nelson Agholor for a 58-yard touchdown. Both teams remained scoreless for the rest of the opening quarter.

      Less than three minutes into the second quarter, Carson Wentz threw another touchdown, this time to LeGarrette Blount for a 1-yard score. The Eagles lead 13-0 (missed extra point) before Wentz was picked off by Redskins’ linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who returned the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.

     Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins hit running back Chris Thompson on a 29-yard touchdown, putting the Skins up 14-13. As time expired in the second quarter, Eagles’ placekicker Caleb Sturgis nailed a 50-yard field goal, putting the birds up by two going into the half.

     In the second half, Sturgis was called upon again, this time for a 42 yarder. After hitting it with ease, the Eagles were now up 19-14 with a quarter and half to play. As the third quarter came to an end, Dustin Hopkins made a 33-yard field goal for the Skins, who now only trailed by two points, 17-19.
In the fourth quarter, the Redskins weren’t able to get anything going offensively, or defensively for that matter. Sturgis made a third field goal for the Eagles and defensive end Fletcher Cox returned a 20-yard fumble into the end zone for a touchdown, making the final score 30-17 in favor of the birds.
Kirk Cousins and running back Rob Kelley both rushed for 30 yards for Washington, as they were unable to get a strong ground game going. Offseason acquisition Terrelle Pryor Sr. (from Cleveland) caught six passes for 66 yards in his debut for the Skins, which lead the team. Tight end Jordan Reed hauled in five passes for 36 yards and Jamison Crowder reeled in three catches for just 14 yards.

     For Philly, Alshon Jeffery, covered by corner Josh Norman, secured three passes for 38 yards and Blount rushed for 46 yards on 14 carries in his Philadelphia debut. Next week the Eagles take on the Chiefs in Kansas City. This is the first time since 2013 the two teams will faceoff.

 

Eagles’ running back LeGarrette Blount hurdles a Bills defender during their match up with Buffalo in week two of the preseason. Blount scored a league-high 18 touchdowns in 2016

Steelers’ running back LeVeon Bell was held to just 32 yards rushing in Pittsburgh’s 21-18 win over the Browns. Last season Bell averaged 105 yards per game.