The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when traveled to State Farm Stadium to play the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 of the regular season. After the game Sunday, it is time to see who performed well, and who left a lot to be desired.
Improvement was evident in some ways, and hopefully will continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left plays on the field can be deemed ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the point of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 14…
Stat Line: 6 receptions, 60 yards, 8 targets, 1 TD / 85 yard punt return for TD
With the Steelers offense essentially a mix-matched bag of goods the past few weeks, there has been a consistent trend with the unit. Someone steps up almost every week. Last week it was Benny Snell and James Washington. This week it was Diontae Johnson. Johnson’s electrifying punt return for a touchdown was the big play this team has been leaning on throughout their hot stretch, and his touchdown reception was a great grab. Great to see the rookie bounce back from a sub-par game in Week 13.
Stat Line: 16/19, 152 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 117.5 Rating
Gotta give credit where credit is due. Hodges only threw the ball 19 times, but he didn’t have to throw it more than that. And that is important. What impressed me the most is how he runs the no-huddle, and had the confidence to change the play call on the final offensive drive of the game. Hodges seems to be built for the big stage, and that is a good thing considering the games will only get bigger from here on out.
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 1 solo, 1 TFL, 1 pass defense, 1 QB Hit, 1 INT
Watt’s sack streak ended on Sunday, but don’t think he wasn’t a factor in the game. Watt continues to be a mainstay in the winner category, but this time it was his interception which took points off the board. When the Cardinals chose to go for it on fourth down deep in the red-zone, Kyler Murray looked as if he could have run the ball for the first down, or even a touchdown. He threw, and Watt baited him into the interception. Tremendous, and game-changing, play.
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 4 solo, 2 pass defenses, 2 INTs
Don’t look now, but Joe Haden is suddenly a ball hawk for the Steelers’ secondary. He has registered three interceptions in the last two games, and is starting to become the player Steelers fans have expected this season. Haden, very much like the offense, is the latest player to deliver the big turnover for this dynamic defense. Tremendous game for the former Florida Gator.
Stat Line: 5 tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QB Hit
According to most stat books Dupree had just one sack on the day, but the numbers also don’t add up when it comes to Murray’s stat line. Murray is listed as being sacked 5 times, but only 4 players were credited for a sack. Don’t be shocked if Dupree is given credit for another sack by the end of the week. Regardless, his athleticism was on full display as he harassed Murray all day in the backfield.
Heinz Field West
Stat Line: Holy Cow that stadium was loud!
I’ll just leave this here:
Benny Snell Jr.
Stat Line: 16 carries, 41 yards, 2.6 ypc, 1 Fumble
Snell didn’t have a horrible game, but when the team is up 10-0 after a huge play by Diontae Johnson, the last thing you can do is cough the ball up. Yes, it was a great play by the defender. Yes, Snell is a rookie. No, that isn’t an excuse for Snell to put the ball on the turf. He will hopefully learn from his mistake, but he is the sole reason the Steelers’ turnover streak is now at 20 games with a turnover.
Jordan Berry/Danny Smith/Mike Tomlin
Stat Line: The game could have been lost over such a horrible decision
This is the deal of the day in this article! 3 losers for the price of 1! We may never know exactly what took place during the botched fake punt Sunday, but there are so many people to blame it is insane. Danny Smith and Mike Tomlin deserve blame for having the fake punt call on in that situation. I realize in football there are situations, like the ‘6 man box’ Tomlin spoke of in his post-game press-conference, where plays are set to be run no matter what. This is the moment when coaches step in and say, “We punt…no matter what.” There is also blame to be handed down to Jordan Berry. You didn’t get the call the play was off, but no one would have faulted him if he had thought it wasn’t the right spot for the fake, and punted the ball away anyways. The game could have been lost on that play/decision, and thankfully it wasn’t. But you have to hope these type of brain farts are out of the team’s system before the games get even bigger over the next few weeks.