The Pittsburgh Steelers are 5-0 – surprisingly, only the second time in the franchise’s 88-season history they’ve gotten off to such a good start. (The 1978 Steel Curtain team also did it on the way to winning Super Bowl XIII.)
How have they turned things around after missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for just the second time this century? Exploiting one of the league’s weakest schedules – their opponents own a collective .328 winning percentage – has certainly helped. The return of an elite defense, one that paces the league with 24 sacks, the past two seasons has been key. And, naturally, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s comeback from elbow surgery has been vital, too, after he missed most of the 2019 campaign.
But don’t discount this factor, either: Yet again, the Steelers are reaping the benefits of a talented youngster they found after the draft’s first round but who nevertheless appears destined to be a No. 1 receiver.
Chase Claypool, 22, a Notre Dame product – by way of British Columbia – selected 49th overall this past spring, leads Pittsburgh with six touchdowns scored and 335 receiving yards despite starting just once. He found the end zone four times in a 38-29 defeat of Philadelphia in Week 5. Only Hall of Famer Gale Sayers scored more TDs in one game among all other rookies in the NFL’s 101-season history.