Heading into today’s game, I posed the following question: how big a role will wide receiver Martavis Bryant see in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense? The answer? About as big a role as he has been playing throughout much of the season.
The third-year receiver had five official targets in the game, coming up with three receptions for 42 yards, but he also had a seven-yard reception in the end zone that doesn’t get credited, yet which was huge. It was a two-point conversion, the Steelers’ first successful one all year.
That was his fourth ‘touch’, but his fifth one was somewhat disastrous. The Steelers tried to get him in space on a jet sweep, but the Colts defense, evidently, does one thing well, and that is stay disciplined. They threw Bryant down for a huge nine-yard loss.
Bryant’s 42 receiving yards accounts for the third-highest total for him on the season. He had a big game in week three with three receptions for 91 yards and his only touchdown on the year to date, and he had another three receptions for 48 yards two weeks later.
He has only combined for 51 yards over the course of the next four games, although that includes the Week Eight game for which he was benched for disciplinary reasons. He did not record 30 receiving yards in any of the other three games that he played since today.
The day started off poorly, however. On the second play of the game, second and five, Ben Roethlisberger targeted him on a deep ball that he seemed to be unable to track, which resulted in the cornerback, Pierre Desir, picking off the pass. The defensive back looked like the wide receiver on the play.
His second touch or target of the game was the disastrous nine-yard loss, which unsurprisingly dashed the drive. The Steelers ended up facing a third and 16 that predictably led to an incompletion in the direction of Antonio Brown under pressure.
He did come back on the next drive before halftime with a 13-yard reception on second and 10 that put the team inside field goal range. Then he crucially tied the game on the two-point conversion, which was taken from the seven-yard line following a delay of game penalty.
Later, he helped to salvage the game when he took a crossing route on third and four 19 yards on what proved to be the game-winning drive. Those are some big plays for Bryant, plays that he hasn’t seen much of this year.
And hopefully plays that will keep him engaged as he works his way back into the offense. He had one of his better games of the season, statistically, which is a start, but no doubt still far from where he wants to be. Or where the offense would like him to be.