There’s nothing better than a drop report in which the Pittsburgh Steelers make me work to find something to write about. While the Steelers are among the most reliable teams in the league in terms of catching the football when it’s on-target, it’s rare to have entire games in which there are no dropped passes.
While I found three plays that are worth discussing in this article, none of them are what I would call a dropped pass. One in fact was caught, only out of bounds, while the other two were broken up by defensive backs Stephon Gilmore and JC Jackson.
Each of these three plays had a huge impact on the game, however. The first, the Vance McDonald would-be touchdown (would have been his second of the game), came on third and 14 following an intentional grounding penalty on goal-to-go. Ben Roethlisberger threw a nice arcing pass to the right pylon, but it led the tight end just enough that he couldn’t get all of his right foot inbounds before landing. Chris Boswell missed a field goal from extra point range to his play cost the Steelers at least six points.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were looking at a third and six from midfield when Gilmore happened. This happened just at the five-yard box, the cornerback jamming Eli Rogers, which forced him into the throwing lane for Antonio Brown. He was able to push the receivers together to jar the ball loose, where it was scooped up for an interception by Duron Harmon.
Fortunately, while the defense bent on the ensuing drive, they didn’t break. They allowed a big third-down conversion to set up first and goal but ultimately came away with an interception by Joe Haden that kept the Patriots off the board.
Finally, on the Steelers’ final meaningful offensive play of the game, on third and six from the Patirots’ 30, Roethlisberger looked to close out the game with a dagger touchdown pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster to go up by two scores.
Only that didn’t happen for two reasons. For one, cornerback JC Jackson made a great play on the ball to get his arm between Smith-Schuster and the ball and preventing him from coming down with the reception.
But this was also on Roethlisberger for making this a jump ball when he could have thrown Smith-Schuster open over the top and to the left, where there was space. The quarterback expressed his regret about this play during his Tuesday radio interview segment.