Yes, it was ugly, but the Seahawks did escape with a 21-20 victory over Cincinnati in their season opener Sunday.
For the Steelers, it was just ugly.
Pittsburgh went to New England on Sunday night and was handed a 33-3 pummeling by the Patriots, an “embarrassing” performance for a Steelers team many had pegged as a favorite in the AFC North.
The Steelers will host the Seahawks at Heinz Field on Sunday (10 a.m. PDT, FOX).
The Steelers are 15-3 in home openers since Heinz Field opened in 2001. Only the Broncos (17-1), Seahawks (16-3) and Patriots (16-3) have a better home-opener record in that stretch.
1. Playing ketchup
The Seahawks are playing in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2011, and for just the third time since 1999.
In 2011, Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson-led offense was shut out, 24-0, in Week 2.
That was the last time Seattle was shut out in a game.
In fact, the Seahawks have been shut out just twice since 2001 — and both came at Heinz Field. The Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-0 in Pittsburgh in 2007.
The Seahawks’ last victory in Pittsburgh was on Sept. 26, 1999, at Three Rivers Stadium. Jon Kitna threw for 265 yards, Charlie Rogers returned a punt 94 yards for a touchdown, Merton Hanks returned an interception for a touchdown and Todd Peterson kicked five field goals in Seattle’s 29-10 win.
The Seahawks are 2-7 all-time in Pittsburgh.
2. The Steelers are “foaming at the mouth” now
Those were Mike Tomlin’s words, anyway, on Tuesday, some 36 hours after the beatdown in New England.
“Like all of us, we’re 0-1. And we better be scalded because of that and we better work our tails off as we prepare for our next opportunity. There will be no division in this group,” Tomlin said. “This is how we’re wired, this is what we put out there.
“We’re foaming at the mouth for our next opportunity, and we better be.”
3. End of the road for Roethlisberger?
Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ 37-year-old QB, was 27 of 47 for 276 yards with one interception against the Patriots, and he took ownership of the loss immediately after the game.
His lackluster showing Sunday led some to speculation about Roethlisberger’s future.
“I’m going to go on record to say, I don’t think Big Ben will finish the season,” Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders said on NFL Network (via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) late Sunday. “I think mentally, physically, something’s going to shut down. Because what I saw today was a lackluster effort by the offense, the defense, by the coaching staff, by everyone.
“And he seemed not engaged. There was no big-play ability. No running game. Nothing ever got going offensively, and he seemed disinterested. And we’ve all heard the murmurs of Big Ben saying, ‘I would like to retire.’ The way they played today, a couple more of those games, I think that would happen.”
It is worth mentioning that, as the Post-Gazette noted, Roethlisberger did sign a contract extension in April that is scheduled to keep him with the Steelers through the 2021 season.
4. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the new No. 1 WR
Antonio Brown is long gone (and, oh boy, now in New England), leaving Smith-Schuster as the Steelers’ new No. 1 wideout.
The former USC standout had six catches for 78 yards against the Patriots, before exiting late in the fourth quarter with a toe injury. X-rays reportedly disclosed no injury, and Tomlin said he expects Smith-Schuster to play against the Seahawks.
5. Joe Haden has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder
The veteran cornerback came out of Sunday’s game because of the injury but did return to the field, and Tomlin sounded optimistic on Tuesday that Haden would be available against the Seahawks.