Pick your jaw up yet?
There are too many players in the winners category to list. Pretty weird considering how the game felt after the first half.
Landry Jones: Landry Jones the winning QB. Landry Jones throwing two touchdowns. Landry Jones for President? No one has been more of a punching bag, myself included, than Landry. Some guys just get it when the bullets are live and the games count. Jones’ ability to run the offense, something Mike Vick simply could not do, process information quickly, and make some NFL throws, saved the Steelers today. His 26 yarder to Martavis Bryant was a thing of beauty. Jones was poised, knew where he wanted the ball to go, and made quick decisions.
It’s such a zany, Twilight-zone thought but here it is: If Ben Roethlisberger is still hurt, Landry Jones is starting next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. And we are all ok with that.
Martavis Bryant: #3’s favorite target. He made a triumphant return to football, hauling in six receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. His 88 yard play was an incredible example of his after-the-catch ability, outrunning five or six Cardinals on his way to pay dirt. It stamped the win for Pittsburgh. He was responsible for nearly 79% of the Steelers’ passing offenses today.
Alejandro Villanueva: He might not be the first man to come to mind after today’s improable win. And sure, the Cardinals were without Alex Okafor. But Villanueva filled in admirably for Kelvin Beachum, whose season is in jeopardy. Big props to him who, like Jones, came up big in his first regular season game.
James Harrison: Deebo keeps making plays, world keeps spinning. His forced fumble and sack in the early stages of the second half was just another example of him, and this defense, stepping up to the plate. He drew one holding call, that negated a Ross Cockrell pass interference, and several pressures that forced Carson Palmer to move in the pocket.
Kick Coverage: Another underrated storyline but the Steelers held big-play threat David Johnson to an average of 21.3 per return. Sure, Johnson muffed two, but sometimes when coverage units see a loose ball, they get out of their lane and allow big returns. Consistently, this has been one of the strongest units on the team, and they came through again today.
Chris Boswell: 4/4 including a 51 yarder. Doesn’t get better than that for any kicker, much less the fourth one the Steelers have tried this season. Maybe he can be Landry’s Vice President.
Tackling: Jon Ledyard is going to have a much quicker time combing through the misses this week. It’s plagued the team all year long but they were solid today, not allowing much YAC and giving the Cardinals run game, the best in the league heading into today, to 2.8 yards per carry.
Antwon Blake: Been a big supporter of #41 but it gets increasingly more difficult each week to justify keeping him in the lineup. I still see him as a solid tackler (think some of his tackle the catch issues have been footwork releated) and plus player in run support but he is a clear liability in coverage. When (if?) Cortez Allen returns, you have to think Blake gets jettisoned to the bench and won’t see work unless he has to. Until then, there should be a discussion of starting Brandon Boykin.
Mike Vick: We have seen little to no progression in his game over the last three starts. He did seem to injure his hamstring but I bet his poor play was just as much of a reason, if not more, to pull him. He can’t get off his first read, missing open receivers while forcing the ball into coverage. His comeback attempt from the far hash to Antonio Brown on the first drive was as bad of a decision as it gets. He will likely never play another snap for the Steelers again. Maybe in football in general.
Ross Cockrell: If we’re going to put Blake in this mix, we have to do the same with Cockrell. Covering John Brown, the fastest player on the field, is no picnic, but Cockrell was called for two inteferences. He’s been penalized at least four times over the last two weeks.