Steelers studs and duds in grueling Week 1 loss against the 49ers

Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Steelers Dud: Kenny Pickett and the offense left their mojo back in the preseason

Yes, you are reading that right: I have two sets of duds after such a woeful performance. We have to start with the side of the ball that has been getting all the hype going into the season. The offense for the Steelers last year was an unmitigated disaster most of the time, and even when it improved late in the season it was hardly explosive. This preseason gave fans hope that maybe, just maybe, Matt Canada had learned from his mistakes over the past few seasons.

When Kenny Pickett was the QB for the Steelers this preseason, they scored a touchdown on all five of their possessions. Even though it was only the preseason, much of what they did well seemed like it could translate to the regular season. Attacking the middle of the field, Kenny Pickett looking very poised in the pocket, and explosive plays from second-year receiver Calvin Austin III were all promising signs that things could be different this year. Then the 49ers came into town.

Right from the start, things looked out of sorts. Their first drive ended on a sack taken by Kenny Pickett after trying to extend the play on third down. Their next three drives were much of the same, with two punts and an interception thanks to Diontae Johnson slipping on a 50-50 ball. It wasn't until an impressive 95-yard touchdown drive to end the half that the offense was able to get anything going.

Instead of that drive being the catalyst for a comeback, the offense failed to score another point in the 30-7 defeat. Every unit on offense made their share of mistakes, and the playcalling became very one-dimensional because of the huge deficit the Steelers were facing. The offensive line allowed pressure far too often, especially early in the game. The receivers weren't bad but weren't getting open quickly enough for Pickett to get the ball out before the rush got home. Pickett himself had an uncharacteristically bad day with his accuracy as well.

This was simply a worst-case scenario day for the offense, and you have to hope that the only place to go from here is up. If Week 1 is any indication, next week's game against the Browns may not be much easier, but it's going to be interesting to see how the Steelers offense responds after a truly horrific day.