I wish I had better news for you, but this week’s drop report—the first of the season—was a doozy. My final tally for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the New England Patriots was five total drops, plus two additional passes that should have been caught, but which I did not charge as drops because of the defensive play.
These were, as you’ll see below, the end zone pass to Donte Moncrief broken up by Jason McCourty and a fourth-quarter pass to Diontae Johnson that was dislodged by Johnathan Jones.
Interestingly enough, the Steelers didn’t have a ball security issue until the end of the first half, but that first one was a big one.
On fourth and one from near midfield just after the two-minute warning, Ben Roethlisberger looked for Moncrief on a short pass to the left a quick turn and catch. While safety Patrick Chung did get in there, you can see the receiver let the ball into his chest, already bouncing off before the defender arrived.
Moncrief’s second run-in with ball security came early in the second half, Roethlisberger targeting him in the end zone from the 18 off play action. This one I do give credit to the defender for. His arm was in there right away and he did a great job contesting it. It’s still a ball that could have, even should have, been caught, but there was too much interference on this one to call it a drop.
This is the other could’ve-been catch that I didn’t put as a drop. Johnson here initially secures the ball, but the defensive back gets his arm right on the ball and punches it out. This contrasts to the similar Chung play above, with the ball having already been loose off of Moncrief’s chest.
Speaking of Moncrief, he came back and dropped the ball on the very next play after the one detailed above. This was another one where the ball clearly arrived prior to the defender getting there. McCourty perhaps makes the difference between a double-catch and an incompletion, but the ball is not secured.
And then there was one more for Moncrief, just for good measure, two plays later. Looking at the end zone view, you can see that while the ball was not well-placed, he got his body in a position to get his hands on it, and he lost the ball before the defender arrived.
The Steelers wrapped things up with two more drops, first a tough one on Vance McDonald. This was a tough angle, but he was able to get both hands on it. He short-armed it a bit, seemingly only getting his fingertips on it rather than his full hands, putting the ball on the ground.
On the very next play, Jaylen Samuels had the most egregious drop of the game, a would-be triple-catch after what should have been a relatively easy scoop pick-up to the left on a short pass. He finished the game with one reception on two targets for two yards.
Donte Moncrief: 3
Vance McDonald: 1
Jaylen Samuels: 1