It seems as though there have been several drop reports I’ve done this year in which I didn’t have any true, bonafide drops to write about. That’s great news for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who according to ESPN have had one of the best drop rates in the league at just 2.5 percent of catchable passes. Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints featured another clean slate, though there are still a few plays that I’d like to talk about.
There was a two-play sequence late in the first quarter in particular that I wanted to highlight, a pair of incompletions first to JuJu Smith-Schuster and then to Antonio Brown. In both cases, the coverage was tight—in the former, so tight that it drew a pass interference penalty.
It was first and 10 on their own 26 when Ben Roethlisberger looked short left for Smith-Schuster. Eli Apple had a clear hold on the receiver’s jersey as he looked to come back upfield for the ball. With that said, it does appear as though the ball may have gone off his hands without the defender touching it. Even without the pass interference, this would still have been a tough catch with the adjustment necessary. If there was a drop in the game, however, this would have been it.
Roethlisberger wanted to go to Brown deep on the very next play, but on an underthrown ball, Marshon Lattimore was able to play in tight coverage. The cornerback leapt up to try to make the interception but it ended up slipping through his hands without him hardly touching it.
Brown was using his right arm to try to create separation with his left arm outstretched. The ball ended up bouncing off the left side of his chest plate for an incompletion. Still, the paint this as a drop would be exceedingly harsh in my book.
While this play is obviously not a drop, since he actually caught the pass, I wanted to talk about what could have been a touchdown for Brown in the second half at the end of the third quarter. On first and 10 from the 20, Roethlisberger delivered a nicely-thrown ball to the edge of the end zone. Brown was able to haul it in but was just shy of keeping both feet inbounds.
It would have taken supreme effort in order for him to complete that catch, though it’s not asking too much from him, as he has done it many times, even in Sunday’s game working at the sidelines. Of course he would end up catching that 20-yard touchdown a couple of plays later anyway, on which there was no doubt.