If the Pittsburgh Steelers learned anything in Week 1, it’s this: In the NFL, you’ve got to play all 60 minutes.
“Absolutely,” Steelers safety Mike Mitchell said on The MoJo Show. “It was really a tale of two halves, but we’re not going to apologize for winning. Anyone that’s ever played in the National Football League knows how hard it is to win, so we’ll take a three-point win, a one-point win, a 99-point win. As long as we win the game at the end of the day, we’ll be happy.”
The Steelers were certainly happy at halftime, as they led Cleveland 27-3 at Heinz Field. The Browns, however, reeled off 24 unanswered points in just over 15 minutes of game time to tie the score with 11:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Brian Hoyer, who beat out Johnny Manziel for the starting job, was solid, going 19-of-31 for 230 yards and a touchdown. The Browns’ running game, meanwhile, was borderline dominant, rushing 30 times for 183 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.
In the end, Shaun Suisham drilled a 41-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 30-27 win.
“Hats off to Cleveland for making the adjustments and playing their game,” said Mitchell, who finished with seven tackles.
Mitchell, 27, is a new addition to a Steelers defense trying to get a little younger. He had a career year with Carolina last season – finishing with personal-bests in interceptions (four), sacks (3.5) and forced fumbles (two) – and signed a five-year, $25-million deal with the Steelers in March.
Mitchell has relished going from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
“I can’t lie,” he said. “The 3-4 is much more intricate. You can do a lot of different things with a lot of different pieces. It’s more versatile.”
A 3-4, of course, involves four linebackers as opposed to four defensive linemen. It maximizes a defense’s athleticism and typically results in better pass defense.
“I like to think of it as controlled chaos,” Mitchell said. “I’m having a lot of fun playing it. It was definitely difficult at first to learn because of all the terminology differences, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, it’s a great defense to be a part of.”
That defense will be on display this Thursday, as the Steelers (1-0) take on the Ravens (0-1) in Baltimore. The Ravens are coming off a 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start.
“We just got to know what we’re up against,” Mitchell said. “Obviously we have an opportunity to make ourselves 2-0. We don’t really think about what Baltimore has going on. Obviously when a team goes through adversity, most good teams will come together; they’ve proven over the years they’re a very good football team, so obviously we’re expecting their best shot. It’s going to be a dog fight.”
“But we’re more so concerned about us,” Mitchell said. “Our mentality, our game preparation and how we play and the things that we do – that’s what we can control. If you go out and score early and play good defense, the crowd becomes irrelevant. The good teams find ways to win games on the road. We’re looking to prove that we’re a good team.”
“It’s Baltimore, it’s Pittsburgh – two cities that don’t like each other, two teams that don’t like each other. So it’s going to be an intense game.”
Kickoff is slated for 8:25 p.m. ET.