Pittsburgh Steelers second-year wide receiver Sammie Coates had a trying, yet rewarding afternoon yesterday in what was statistically the best performance of his career, catching six passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. But those came on 11 targets, and included three or four passes that might be fairly regarded as a drop, or at least a catchable pass that he could not bring in.
Six of those targets came in the second half of the game, four of which were receptions. During the start of the second half, it was reported that Coates suffered a laceration on his hand late in the second half. He received stitches on his hand for the cut during halftime and changed his glove as a result of the injury. He was targeted on three out of four plays on the Steelers’ final drive, and he failed to come down with two of those passes.
At the start of the second half, he failed to come down with his first two targets, the first on a deep shot into the end zone that could have gone for a score. The second came on an attempted screen pass that was targeted behind the line of scrimmage.
But quarterback Ben Roethlisberger never stopped going to him, of course, and Coates brought in each of his last four targets. He caught a 22-yard pass on third down on the Jets’ 33-yard line that led to a touchdown two plays later.
He caught three passes on the Steelers’ final meaningful drive, including two on second down for eight and 13 yards. He ended that drive with a five-yard touchdown reception, his second touchdown of the game, the first of which came on a 72-yard deep ball.
Roethlisberger was rewarded for his confidence in Coates. He caught four passes for 48 yards in the second half, often in key situations, after dropping two passes earlier in the half, and failing to come down with two more passes at the end of the first half.
“He hurts as bad as anybody when he drops the ball”, Roethlisberger told Will Graves of the Associated Press after the game. “But I want him to know”, he said, that “I’m going to come back to you. I believe in you. I believe in everybody on this team and he showed why I have that faith in him”.
Coates was certainly aware of his up-and-down performance, telling Graves, “I still left a lot on the field”. He added, “I’ll worry about what I left on the field and work on that, grow from that, not what I’ve done because that’s part of my game, that’s what I’m supposed to do”.
Over the course of the first five games of the season, Coates has accumulated 19 receptions for 421 yards, averaging 22.2 yards per reception, with two touchdowns. He has picked up 12 receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns over the course of just the last two games.