Week Six Steelers Vs Cardinals First Half Notes And Observations

The Pittsburgh Steelers secured their second consecutive victory without Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday, employing two quarterbacks in order to defeat the Arizona Cardinals, among the most talented teams in the league. Below are my notes and observations from the first half of the game.

  • The defense did not get off to a good start after giving up a 45-yard play on the first play of the game. Ross Cockrell was in coverage playing a deep third, on a ball thrown underneath him, but was unable to make a sufficient play on the ball to break up the catch.
  • The Steelers were fortunate two plays later, however, when the Cardinals fumbled an exchange. Credit it due to Steve McLendon, who was there in the backfield already and would have had the tackle for loss.
  • As Arizona did throughout the game, they hurt themselves with foolish personal fouls. On a third down play on an incompletion, the right tackle was flagged for unnecessary roughness, knocking them out of field goal range.
  • Of course, the Steelers offense was unable to respond, actually going backward on a three-and-out, highlighted by a negative-two-yard pass to Antonio Brown.
  • Mike Vick’s third-down pass intended for Brown should have been intercepted by Tyrann Mathieu, who jumped the route and made a play on the ball. The Steelers have been fortunate over the past three games.
  • After coming off a poor performance, Jordan Berry bounced back last week with six punts inside the 20-yard line, but his first punt on Sunday was his worst of the season, a 31-yarder out of bounds from his own 16.
  • With Jarvis Jones out, it seemed the defense got a little more creative with its outside linebackers. On the first snap of the Cardinals’ second possession, Bud Dupree lined up outside on the right side, with James Harrison inside of him.
  • Dupree pressured the quarterback to check down on second down, setting up a third and short, but Carson Palmer was able to escape pressure on that play and find his running back down the field, whom Cockrell abandoned, for a 32-yard catch, on what would have been a touchdown on a better throw.
  • Replay shows that Andre Ellington actually did not have full possession of the ball before it hit the ground, but there’s nothing to be done about it now.
  • On second and goal, Cockrell tipped a pass high and out of bounds in the right corner of the end zone, but on third down, Palmer found John Brown beating Antwon Blake off the line of scrimmage for the touchdown.
  • Fan favorite Roosevelt Nix was flagged for a hold on the ensuing kickoff.
  • With the Steelers backed up on their own seven, Calais Campbell beat Kelvin Beachum around the edge for the sack and a loss of five yards, in spite of the left tackle obviously holding him on a penalty that was not called.
  • Vick heaved up an ill-advised pass on second down that was as likely to be intercepted as caught or dropped, but the Steelers were fortunate to draw a roughing the passer penalty on the play, giving them room and a new set of downs.
  • Not that the Steelers were able to do anything with it afterward. Following an eight-yard run on second down from Le’Veon Bell, following a nice outside block from Nix, the back was hit for a loss of five on third and one. It was a bit of a theme on the day.
  • But thanks to the defense, Vick and Bell got the ball right back, after Vince Williams was able to deflect a pass 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, as Lawrence Timmons made a difficult, athletic interception.
  • Unfortunately, the result was another quick three-and-out following an eight-yard Vick scramble on first down. Berry’s ensuing punt was downed at the two-yard line, however.
  • The extra ground proved necessary, as the Cardinals were able to drive past midfield before the defense was finally able to buckle down, making a stop of negative three yards on second and two, paired with a pass broken up down the field by Blake.
  • On the first play for the Steelers following a touchback, David DeCastro actually pulled right on a run, something that you won’t see very often. The play opened up a lane for Bell to gain nine yards.
  • After picking up the first down with a nifty five-yard run, however, he lost three on the next play, but more importantly, Beachum tore his ACL as the left tackle was lost for the year.
  • Alejandro Villanueva made his regular season debut at left tackle on the next play, where he finished the game. Markus Wheaton took a big hit to break up the second-down pass, and Vick was held a yard shy on a third-down scramble.
  • On the Cardinals’ next drive, they were able to convert a second-and-21 with a 44-yard pass to Larry Fitzgerald off of a screen, catching both Cockrell and Robert Golden flat-footed as he turned upfield. But that is as far as they went, with the drive ending in a missed field goal attempt.
  • The Steelers finally got on the board on their next possession, aided by another Cardinals personal foul on the first play, which was an 11-yard carry.
  • The Steelers had a third-and-one opportunity after a 10-yard scramble from Vick, but Bell was stopped for a loss of one. Chris Boswell was comfortably good, however, from 47 yards out.
  • Golden did an excellent job of playing the pocket of the tight end on first down to break up the pass down the field.
  • But the defense struggled to get off the field on third down on the drive, which was defined by three passing plays of at least 15 yards, culminating in a matching field goal.
  • The Cardinals did have a touchdown on the drive nullified by a very obvious offensive pass interference. Cockrell broke up another potential touchdown two plays later.
  • On the ensuing return, Dri Archer was mauled after Jordan Todman failed to pick up the first man through, stopping him at the 14-yard line.
  • The Steelers quickly went three-and-out, with Jerry booting a 79-yard punt for a touchback to end the half.
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