The Pittsburgh Steelers have been waiting for well over a year to see the deep-play threat of Martavis Bryant back on the field. If the past two weeks are any indication, then perhaps we have finally reached that point. The third-year player has catches on deep passes for 35-plus yards in consecutive weeks. And he’s contributing in other ways as well.
Bryant had three receptions for 60 yards against the Texans on Monday in a blowout victory, and he added another carry on an end-around for eight yards. If the team can regularly get this sort of production from him, with a touchdown or two thrown in, during the postseason, then they are in good shape.
The Steelers got him involved earlier in Antonio Brown’s absence, tossing him a screen pass with Alejandro Villanueva getting out in front of. The 6’4” receiver was able to navigate around the block and weave through a bit of traffic to start off the game with a 12-yard gain.
Later in the first quarter, the Steelers were facing a third and short, but with the Texans showing a single-high look, Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t help but to take advantage of the coverage and launched a long ball for Bryant down the right sideline. Alex Kozora is going to break this down more extensively in a bit, but for a brief spoiler: he caught it.
Into the second quarter, heading toward halftime, Roethlisberger looked for Bryant down the field again, coming down the seam, but couldn’t really get the throw off that he wanted. The receiver tried to come back for the ball, but couldn’t corral it in traffic.
Not to worry, as Roethlisberger went back to Bryant on the following play, set up to get him into space with the slot receiver clearing out some traffic. He was able to use his size and strength to pick up the 12 yards needed to move the chains.
The Steelers used a couple of end-arounds in the game as well, and Bryant got one of them. They have tried to give him the ball this way intermittently throughout the season with a mixture of result, but this one was effective, showing his speed to get to the sideline, although he stepped out of bounds early.
Bryant probably isn’t a whole lot happier than James Harrison was with his role, truth be told. Bryant believes that he could be Brown if he got the same number of touches and was used the same way, with better balls thrown in his direction. He may not be here next year because of that. But it’s good to see that he has set that all aside for now and has put his best foot forward through the end of this season.