The last time the Steelers lost their first two games was 2013 when they went 0-4, including the defeat at Wembley. They finished the season 8-8 and missed the playoffs to the Chargers who finished a game ahead.
The Steelers went ahead after TJ Watt forced a fumble that M Barron plucked out of the air and returned for a score. The touchdown was called back for an illegal block, but five plays later James Conner went to give Pittsburgh the first six points of the season.
A soft penalty provided the Seahawks with a touchdown opportunity they accepted to tie the game. Chris Boswell kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Steelers a 10-7 lead at the half and Steeler Nation were quite content until the news regarding Ben’s injury filtered through.
The second half saw the NFL debut of Mason Rudolph. Unfortunately, after an incompletion to Conner, he chose to throw to Donte Moncrief. The receiver leapt to haul in the pass but failed to hold onto it and it floated into the arms of Seattle’s Bradley McDougald.
Russell Wilson make quick work of the short field and the Seahawks were in front for the first time with a 14-10 advantage.
On the Steelers next drive, a beautiful flea flicker when Conner took the handoff before passing back to Rudolph who found JuJu Smith-Schuster downfield with a 45-yard completion. Boswell kicked a 33-yard field goal when the drive faltered, but Rudolph was displaying confidence in his introduction to pro football.
That assurance continued into the fourth quarter as the teams twice exchanged touchdowns. Rudolph led the Steelers on a 12-play drive of 75 yards that finished with Vance McDonald’s 8-yard catch. The two-point after conversion that would have tied the game failed.
Close games such as this often hinge on one incident. With Seattle holding on to a slender 21-19 lead, Pittsburgh thought they had forced the Seahawks into a 3 and 20 when Wilson’s pass fell incomplete. With the change to video replay guidelines this season, Seattle’s coach called for a review and a defensive pass interference penalty was awarded. The Seahawks continued their drive extending their advantage to ten points.
A Seattle fumble gave the Steelers a first and goal on their opponents three-yard line and Rudolph again found McDonald. His short pass brought the score to 28-26, but the Seahawks held on for the win.
Ben right elbow. Vince Williams hamstring. Sean Davis shoulder injury. Anthony Chickillo foot injury. James Conner was also injured at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Television angle showed a left knee hyperextension.
The positives from the game:
Chris Boswell confirmed he was back to his usual effective efficiency and Mason Rudolph confirmed his status as the team’s backup quarterback which stands the team in good stead when Ben retires. Rudolph was solid and exuded confidence and was quite rightly the Digest Player of the Week.