The past weekend was a big weekend for Steeler Nation. Not only was Jerome Bettis enshrined into the Hall of Fame, but the football season begun, and who else to open it up besides the Pittsburgh Steelers.
While the Steelers failed to shine in the Hall of Fame game, one thing was for sure. Canton, Ohio was owned by Steelers Nation. Jerome Bettis put it nicely when he looked out at his adoring fans, grabbed his Terrible Towel, and yelled to the sea of black and gold, “We may be in Canton, Ohio, but this here is Steelers Country” and he was not mistaken.
Jerome Bettis, also known as “The Bus”, made his last stop in Canton, earning himself a spot among the many greats of Pittsburgh and football in general. Bettis rushed for the 5th most yards out of any running back in NFL history, and capped off his legendary career with a super bowl victory in ’05. He will never be forgotten by Steeler Nation, and the football world.
The terrible towels didn’t stop swinging as the Steelers rushed into their first game of the year, against the Minnesota Vikings.
It almost seemed like a home game at Heinz Field. Very few Vikings fans, or non-Steelers fans could be seen throughout the crowd. Up and down the stands, black and gold, waving towels, all Steelers fans, everywhere. Cheers as loud as those at Heinz echoed through the stadium whenever the Steelers made a big play.
There were many positives and negatives throughout the game.
The Steelers were showcasing the first ever game involving a Keith Butler run defense. The defense displayed great speed, and physicality, something expected when it comes to a Steelers’ defense, but something that had been lacking the last couple of years.
While Ryan Shazier started out a bit sluggish, he really picked up some steam, showing off his quickness. He’s a player that Steelers fans will really be looking to improve from last season, and be one of the focal points in the youth revolution. Lawrence Timmons also played well, despite limited playing time, making a crucial and huge hit early on, which led to a failed 4th down conversion.
It was also nice to see newly acquired Brandon Boykin blitzing, and swatting down a throw early on as well. Overall, secondary struggled at times, but was fairly disciplined, and did well enough to stop the offense a number of times. They also were able to force an interception, though it may have been the receivers fault.
On the other side of the ball, the offense wasn’t very productive, though without any real 1st stringer, it wasn’t really expected. Landry Jones was mediocre, never really finding a groove, but made a couple of nice throws.
Aug 9, 2015; Canton, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Shakim Phillips (19) makes a catch during the second quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Dri Archer played very well. Starting at running back, he displayed his sheer speed, being able to weave his way through hordes of defenders. One really nice play by the 2nd year speedster happened on a 3rd & 14, in a sort of “give up” play, the Steelers ran a draw and somehow, Archer found his way to the 1st down. Otherwise, he averaged 6 yards per carry, and also had a good number of receptions throughout the contest.
Besides that, the Steelers offense wasn’t very flashy, except one very nice one-hand reception by the relatively unknown Shakim Phillips.
The Steelers showed off their youth, and while they didn’t get the win, let alone a single touchdown, they displayed a team of youngsters that instill hope in the future of the franchise.
Canton was all about the Steelers this weekend. While other hall of famers were of course enshrined and honored as well, Pittsburgh’s fans swarmed the city, and took ownership of it.
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