Last week, we didn’t have any drops to talk about. That is not the case this week for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And though not every play I highlight below is one that is indisputably a dropped pass, it is worth noting that three of them do involve wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The first one, to me, is the most egregious. Early in the first quarter, Ben Roethlisberger looked the second-year man’s way down the left sideline, having gotten behind William Jackson in coverage. The quarterback beautifully placed the ball, there was hardly much more he could have done, but Smith-Schuster could not make the adjustment, failing to get his arms out as the ball sailed past him.
You could argue that this is not technically a drop because he never managed to actually touch the football. Whether you choose to classify it as one or not, it served the same function. This one is really all on him.
As is another one that occurred on the Steelers’ very next drive, on third and eight. As he went for an out route, Roethlisberger put the ball right on his outstretched hands, which it proceeded to travel right through. If there is any solace here, however, it is that the play was unlikely to result in a conversion anyway.
Running back James Conner also had his first dropped pass of the year later in the quarter on a play on which, frankly, Roethlisberger should have gotten the ball to him much sooner. Because of his delay, however, it made the play much more difficult, yet the pass still ricocheted off of his hands without Shawn Williams involved in breaking it up.
Smith-Schuster and Roethlisberger nearly connected on a brilliant homerun ball early in the second half on a first-and-10 play from the Bengals’ side of the field. While I don’t have this down as a drop because of Dre Kirkpatrick’s defense (and pass interference, arguably), I do think it is a pass that still could have been caught. Again, it’s not a drop, but you still want to see a star wide receiver be able to make the play, even with a slight interference (you can see Kirkpatrick hit his right hand before the ball arrives).
Both Smith-Schuster and Conner certainly more than made up for these blemishes on the day, each compiling over 100 yards of offense and making key plays that led to the victory.