This was a surprise performance by the combination of a unlikely third string quarterback who almost got ran out of town and a talented, but immature wide receiver who today saved the day for the Steelers. Landry Jones and Martavis Bryant connected on two 2nd half touchdown passes to push the Pittsburgh Steelers past the Arizona Cardinals 25-13 on Sunday afternoon. Jones replaced a struggling Michael Vick who injured his hamstring on a 7 yard run midway through the third quarter on a drive that led to a field goal to cut the lead to 10-6. On the next possession Jones led the Steelers on a 4 play-32 yard drive capped off by a touchdown after a 8 yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant which was preceded fumble by Arizona wide receiver Josh Brown. Jones and Bryant connected again for the clinching 88 yard touchdown pass right before the two minute warning after Mike Mitchell intercepted a pass in the end zone when the Cardinals were driving for the go ahead score two plays before.
For the Steelers Jones went 12 for 16 with 168 yard to go along with the two touchdowns and Bryant caught 6 passes for 137 yards and two scores. New kicker Chris Boswell went 3 for 3 on field goals converting from 47, 48 and 51 yard respectively. For the Cardinals, Carson Palmer went 29 for 45 for 421 yards and a touchdown to go along with two interceptions. John Brown caught 10 passes for 196 yards and Larry Fitzgerald caught 8 passes for 93 yards playing his first pro game at the same stadium he starred in at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Steelers won despite being out gained 469-310, lost the time of possession 31:09 to 28:51, and only had 14 first downs to Arizona’s 21. The Steelers however won the turnover battle 3 to 0 and was more disciplined than the Cardinals. Arizona was penalized 9 times for 111 yards, most of those wiped out big plays, changed field position or stopped momentum on promising drives. The Steelers scored 14 points off of Cardinals turnovers including the go ahead and clinching touchdown.
My first game ball goes to the Steelers defense who for the second week in a row carried the load for a struggling offense and bended but did not break. The Steelers offense mustered one passing yard in the first half and they were only down 10-3 at halftime. That is a credit to Keith Butler and his defense to only allow the Cardinals, who averaged 38 points through the first five games to 13 on Sunday. The second game ball will go to Jones who provided a much needed spark to the Steelers offense and ran it much more effectively than Vick. I personally thought that he should have been the primary backup all along because he has been in Todd Haley’s offense for three years and knew the system. With Landry Jones the Steelers playbook opened up and Bryant, Heath Miller and Antonio Brown got more involved in the offense. My perspective is that Jones did not have a good preseason and when Bruce Gradkowski got injured I think Coach Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert panicked and went and signed Vick. Today’s win was vindication for both Jones and Bryant, who had his first action of the season after he served a four game suspension for violating the substance abuse property and was ill last Monday night and did not suit up for the game against the Chargers.
As for next week, Ben Roethlisberger’s status is unknown for their game on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. He participated in non-contact drills last week and he will do his best to be ready at practice this week. The Steelers however did not come out of this game unscathed; Left Tackle Kevin Beachum suffered a torn ACL and will missed the remainder of the season.
This was a classic grind it out win for the Pittsburgh Steelers against a quality opponent and this will serve greater purpose as the season goes along. This team is not without its flaws but they are finding their ways to win week after week and as they get healthier and the offense gets better this experience will help out this young team when it counts in December and maybe January and February.
Steelers (4-2): at Chiefs 10/25 1:00 p.m. CBS
Cardinals (4-2): vs. Ravens 10/26 8:30 p.m. ESPN