Russell Wilson completed 29 of 35 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns, as the Steelers fell to the Seahawks, 28-26, at Heinz Field on Sunday afternoon to start the 2019 regular season 0-2.
After the two teams exchanged punts on the first four possessions, the Steelers defense created its first turnover of the season, when T.J. Watt stripped running back Chris Carson of the football at the Seahawks 34, and Mark Barron scooped up the fumble and appeared to score. However, safety Sean Davis was called for an illegal block in the back on the return, and the Steelers offense set up shop at the Seattle 22 yard line.
Four plays later, the Steelers scored their first touchdown of the season, when running back James Conner plunged in for a one-yard touchdown. The big play on the scoring-drive was actually a pass interference penalty against Seattle linebacker Mychal Kendricks who was called for face-guarding on an incomplete third-down pass to running back Jaylen Samuels.
After struggling mightily to get anything going against the Steelers defense and potent pass rush, the Seahawks offense suddenly came to life on the ensuing drive. But after running back Rashaad Penny was stuffed for a two-yard loss on third and one from the Steelers 26, it appeared that the Seahawks would have to settle for a field goal. The field goal was good from 46 yards out. Unfortunately, Dan McCullers was called for a personal foul, giving Seattle a fresh set of downs. One play later, Wilson found tight end Will Dissly for a 14-yard touchdown to knot the score at seven.
The Steelers offense finally found some life on the next drive, as Ben Roethlisberger quickly drove the team down to the Seattle 28 on three consecutive passing plays. However, on a quick pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster on third and four in-which the receiver fought for a first down, tight end Vance McDonald was called for offensive pass interference, and the Steelers ultimately had to settle for a 41-yard field goal by kicker Chris Boswell to take a 10-7 lead, a score that held up at halftime, thanks to a 58-yard miss by Seahawks kicker Jason Myers at the end of the second quarter.
The Steelers defense held Seattle to a three and out to start the second half, but Roethlisberger did not return to the lineup after being ruled out with an injury to his passing elbow.
Second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph took over, and a third-down pass intended for Donte Moncrief went through the veteran receiver’s hands and was intercepted at the Pittsburgh 40 by safety Bradley McDougald.
The Seahawks took advantage and their first lead of the day six plays later, when Wilson connected with Dissly for his second touchdown of the game–this time from 12 yards out–to make it 14-10, visitors.
The Steelers offense answered four plays later, and Rudolph completed the first pass of his career, when he found Smith-Schuster for 45 yards on a flea-flicker play.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh’s offense stalled immediately, and Boswell was brought in for a 33-yard field goal to make it a one-point game.
The Seahawks quickly made it an eight-point game on a seven-play, 78-yard drive that culminated in a 37-yard touchdown run by Penny on third and two.
The Steelers answered right back and made it a two-point game early in the final period, as Rudolph completed six of seven passes on a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that ended with an eight-yard strike to McDonald that made it 21-19. The Steelers elected to go for two but were thwarted when Rudolph was intercepted in the end zone.
Perhaps the most critical play came on the ensuing drive. On second and 20 from the Seahawks 27, Wilson’s pass for receiver Tyler Lockett fell incomplete, as he was being covered by safety Terrell Edmunds. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll challenged the play for pass interference, and he was rewarded with a reversal and a first and 10 at the Steelers 35. And on third and three from the 28, Wilson found rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf for a touchdown that gave the Seahawks a 28-19 lead.
After a five-play drive by the Steelers that went nowhere, it appeared that the game was all but over. However, on the very first play of their following drive, the Seahawks fumbled, and rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush recovered at the 14, before being shoved out of bounds at the three.
One play later, Rudolph and McDonald hooked up for a second time to make it a 28-26 game with 5:34 remaining.
Needing a stop, the Steelers desperately tried to get the football back, but to no avail, as Seattle ran out the final 5:34 with the big play coming on third and 16, when Wilson scrambled up the middle for 15 yards. On fourth and one from the Pittsburgh 33, the Seahawks elected to go for it and sealed the win when Carson gained two yards.
For the day, Rudolph completed 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns in one interception. Roethlisberger turned in a rather dismal performance before exiting, as he completed eight of 15 passes for 75 yards.
Stephon Tuitt looked like a defensive player of the week candidate in the first half when he sacked Wilson three times, while Watt added one of his own. But the Steelers pass rush was stymied in the second half, as Seattle’s offense posted 240 yards.
Next up for the Steelers is a trip to San Francisco to take on a 2-0 49ers team next Sunday afternoon at 4:25.