Sunday was an interesting day for the Pittsburgh Steelers and for the definition of dropped pass, at least in my opinion, because I think that there were multiple examples of plays that could be debated about as to whether or not it is worthy of being called a drop. I came away with no doubt in my mind on only two of the five plays highlighted below.
Early in the game, Ben Roethlisberger was looking JuJu Smith-Schuster’s way on a crossing route. The problem is that Smith-Schuster wasn’t expecting there to be a pass coming yet. By the time he turned around, the ball was about to doink off his facemask. While it was his responsibility to be aware on this play, and thus the incompletion is his fault, he didn’t actually drop anything.
A few plays later on the same drive, Roethlisberger tried to fit a pass down the field on top of coverage to tight end Vance McDonald. This would have been a high-quality catch, but he did get one hand on it. It also looks as though his right arm was being held, which wasn’t called, so I didn’t see this as a drop.
Not to worry, though, he wouldn’t come out of the game with a clean sheet. For his second drop of the season, McDonald failed to come up with a Roethlisberger pass in goal-to-go at the end of the second quarter, which nearly resulted in them settling for a field goal before you know who did you know what. No excuse for this one, as it went right off his hands, but he’s been more sure-handed this year than last season.
In the third quarter, to open the frame, Roethlisberger looked for the homerun ball to Smith-Schuster and likely would have nailed it had the offensive line held up a split second longer and allowed him to deliver a more on-target pass. As it is, the receiver made a valiant effort to dive for the ball but came up short. Not a drop, but oh, what could have been.
Unfortunately, James Washington does not get the same treatment even though his pass came under similar circumstances. In his case, he had the room to run underneath the ball but left his feet. He actually initially has control but loses the ball when he hits the ground.
We’ve talked about that play often enough this week, however, and have heard directly from the rookie, so there’s no need to harp on it. My final tally for the week is two drops, one from McDonald and one from Washington.