Now that I have determined once and for all that the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday win over the Arizona Cardinals with Landry Jones was not a dream, it’s time to look at the five key throws that he made in the game.
For starters, Jones’ second pass of the game was a touchdown to Martavis Bryant on 3rd and 8 with the Steelers trailing by 4 points. On the right side of the formation, the Steelers ran a curl/flat combination with Markus Wheaton and Bryant. Jones’ read on the play was the outside cornerback. When he squats on Wheaton’s curl, Jones throws the flat route to Bryant, who winds up being covered by safety Tony Jefferson. Jones puts the ball up high where only Bryant can catch it and the wide receiver does just that. Personally, I don’t think we’ve seen Jones make that read and throw in a preseason game since he’s been with the Steelers.
The next big throw that Jones made in the game came on 3rd and 3 from the Steelers 38 yard-line with 4:54 left in the third quarter. This time, he did something that Mike Vick pretty much failed to do over the course of the last several weeks and that’s attack the middle of the field.
On this play, Bryant stems his route to the outside. In essence this is a dino combo as both Bryant and Darrius Heyward-Bey both run post routes. Jones lets the ball go just as Bryant comes out of his break. He puts just enough touch on the football to get it over the top of the middle linebacker. Once again, not sure we have seen Jones make that throw in a game. It was a huge third down conversion and the Steelers ultimately ended the drive with a field goal to take a 5 point lead.
During the Steelers next offensive possession at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Jones again delivered a clutch throw. This time, however, it was a back-shoulder throw to wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was tightly covered by cornerback Patrick Peterson. You heard Brown say this past week to just trust him and Jones did just that. The play was good for 23 yards.
On the ensuing third down, Jones made perhaps his best throw of the game and the football only traveled three yards past the line of scrimmage. It was 3rd and 3 from the Cardinals 29-yard-line and both Jones and tight end Heath Miller both recognized the blitz. Miller sits down quickly and Jones gets the ball out quick and over the head of Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden. While that drive eventually stalled, the Steelers offense provided kicker Chris Boswell with an easy chip shot to extend the lead back to 5 points.
Jones’ finally big throw came with 2:15 left in the game and we all know how that one ended. Jones hit Bryant on 2nd and 8 play out of the shotgun and the wide receiver did the rest. Sure, it was perhaps Jones’ easiest completion of the game but it was a big one nonetheless. Even if Bryant would’ve been wrapped up quickly, the cardinals would’ve had to burn their second timeout just ahead of the two minute warning. Bryant scoring on the play put the game away for good.
Jones took a huge step Sunday at Heinz Field and it was fun to watch. Those five throws that he made were fantastic and I didn’t think he had them in him.