The Steelers had a disappointing second half, allowing the Cardinals to come back, beginning with a Benny Snell fumble deep in Steelers territory that led to a field goal. After their next drive stalled, Arizona came back to get into the end zone on an 85-yard drive to tie it at 10, leaving 1:51 left, but Pittsburgh was able to get back on the board with Chris Boswell’s second field goal.
Thus, they enter the second half with a 13-10 lead, and will get the ball to start the third quarter. Their lone touchdown of the game came courtesy of Diontae Johnson, who returned a punt 85 yards for the score. That should help his return average a bit.
Devlin Hodges completed nine of 10 passes in the first half for 90 yards, the only incompletion being a throwaway. He also has two scrambles for 28 yards, including a bit 22-yard scramble on the final drive. He’s also continued to make some rookie mistakes, particularly in the pocket, taking a couple of unnecessary sacks, including one that resulted in him losing the ball, but Matt Feiler was fortunate to recover.
Kerrith Whyte was brought down on just the 12 on the kick return. He got the first touch of the half with a five-yard gain on the ground. Following an incompletion, Hodges on third and five scrambled under pressure but was marked a yard short. Frankly I thought he could have gotten more. So they punted instead. Berry boomed the punt 69 yards, sending the returner scrambling backward, but he was able to field it and return it 26 yards out near the 40 for a net of just 38 yards. What happens when you outkick the coverage.
Now the Cardinals start with good field position, having scored on their past two possessions, down three. David Johnson was able to split a couple of defenders but was held to three yards. On second down, Kyler Murray found Andy Isabella for six off play action. Now third and one, Murray kept the ball out of a three-back set, and once again the Steelers read it very well, Terrell Edmunds dropping him for a big loss of seven. But Arizona ran a fake punt and picked up nine yards and the first down. Kameron Kelly just missed the tackle.
Now at the 50, Kenyan Drake got three on first down. Trying to run uptempo, the Cardinals were flagged for a false start instead. Now second and 12, Murray was under pressure by T.J. Watt, but he got the ball out to Christian Kirk for 13 yards. Great play by the rookie.
At the 39 of Pittsburgh’s, Murray now spun out of a sack by Bud Dupree, Watt chasing him, scrambling for three. Watt checked out of the game, winded. Bad snap, on the ground, Murray turfed the ball, but Tyson Alualu was flagged for defensive holding, so instead an automatic first down rather than third and long.
From the Steelers’ 31, Watt still out, Larry Fitzgerald was good for five, Edmunds bringing him down. After the play, Joe Haden came up with the Steelers’ first turnover of the game, an interception of Murray, who only had six on the season coming into the game, boasting the seventh-best interception rate. That was Haden’s third interception of the season and second in as many weeks. That’s the most he’s had in a single season with Pittsburgh.
From the 27, Benny Snell got a wide pitch for three yards. Under pressure, Hodges nearly overthrew Whyte, who got up for the ball to pick up nine yards for the first down. Snell avoided a tackle in the backfield to pick up nine off the left side. The Steelers looked for a flea flicker on the next play, but Hodges wasn’t comfortable with the throw, Johnny Holton covered, so he scrambled for the first down. Not a bad decision.
Now beyond midfield, Snell delivered a stiff arm at the line of scrimmage to pick up about five yards off the left side. Vance McDonald was injured on the play. This time it was Jaylen Samuels making people miss for nine yards. At the 35, still on the ground, the ball went back to Snell, who picked up about three or four off right guard. Getting into field goal range now, and chewing up clock, they finally went to the air, Hodges looking for James Washington. Byron Murphy was flagged for defensive pass interference, so they’ll have the ball inside the 20 now.
From the 16, a quick screen to Johnson to the right didn’t work, but he completely reversed field and made several Cardinals miss, getting all the way down to the two. Now first and goal, Snell was pulled down for a loss from behind, but Terrell Suggs was flagged for a horsecollar tackle, instead making it first and goal from the one. He was flagged for a facemask.
On the second first-and-goal run, this time Snell was brought down for a loss of one or two. Off a low snap, Hodges got the ball out, throwing a sharp-angled pass to Johnson at the left pylon, hauling in the catch for his fourth touchdown of the season, which now leads the team. Johnson clearly stepping up big in this game, accounting for 14 points. It’s now 20-10 with 17 minutes to play.
The Cardinals’ drive after the points off of turnover began with a four-yard gain. Murray off play action was forced to scramble out of the pocket under pressure and threw the ball away. Under pressure again, this time Murray was able to get the ball out to Kirk for a first down. At the 43, Murray was able to hit the downfield play to Kirk for 31 against Steven Nelson to end the third quarter, the Cardinals now moving once again.
At the 26, Drake had some great blocking for a nine-yard gain. He picked up the first up the middle on second down. Now inside the 15, Chase Edmonds bobbled a screen pass for an incompletion. Watt forced him to scramble on the next play, picking up a yard. Now third and nine, Haden made an important open-field tackle on Kirk for a seven-yard gain, making it fourth and two, but the Cardinals stayed on the field. Murray threw his second interception of the game, Watt picking it off in the end zone. That’s Murray’s second of the game, and Watt’s second of the season. The rookie certainly looked as though he had room to run for the first down, so that’s a clear mistake on multiple levels by the first-overall pick. And now it’s still a two-possession game.
And so it’s on to the ground game, with Snell picking up five yards on first down. Now Samuels for three. On third and two, off play action, Hodges hit Washington on the slant for eight and a first down.
At the 36, the ball went back to Snell, who was held to two yards. He was undercut for just a yard on second down. Now third and long, Hodges was able to get the ball out to Johnson, but he didn’t have much room to work and so was held to just two yards, but they took about four minutes or so off the clock with one first down on the drive. Mike Tomlin stunningly ran a fake punt on fourth and six with Berry, who was leveled by two defenders for a loss. That was a straight-up awful situational play call and the execution was just as bad. Suddenly, you give the Cardinals new live with great field position.
Murray scrambled for eight yards on second down, setting up a third and two. From the 24, he hit David Johnson for the touchdown over the top of the defense, one of the biggest plays they have given up since week two. Edmunds made a bad read trying to undercut the ball. And suddenly it’s a three-point game with 6:44 to play following a truly baffling play call.
The Cardinals continue to kick it short, and continue to bring down Whyte short of the 20. On first down, Hodges threw to Washington for a first down. Samuels on the draw picked up about three. Hodges took another shot, this time down the field, to Washington, incomplete, but a flag was thrown. The officials called defensive pass interference on the play, which will give them the ball near midfield.
On the carry, Whyte showed some burst to pick up about seven yards up the right sideline. Out of the wildcat, Samuels handed off to Johnson, who cut upfield for 16, down to the 22-yard line. Snell in, he got the carry and got just beyond the 20, about three yards. He was stuffed behind the line on a wide pitch on second down, now setting up third and eight, with a huge decision coming. Do you put the ball in the air, needing eight yards? With three receivers on the field, the play never happened due to a false start. And now third and 13, Hodges changed the play at the line. He bought time, pump faked, and then hit Johnson for 17 yards down to the nine-yard line at the two-minute warning.
Now at the nine-yard line, Snell was hit in the backfield for a loss of three yards. Going with three receivers now, Hodges’ pass was tipped on the screen, the clock now stopped. That’s a big play for the Cardinals. With 1:52 to play, third and goal from the 12.5, they just ran a pitch to Whyte down to the seven. Arizona used its final timeout with 1:46 to play, so they’ll have plenty of time to win the game. Chris Boswell was good from 25 yards out, making it 23-17.
With 1:42 to play and no timeouts, the Cardinals start their drive from the 25, needing a touchdown for the win.
Murray was sacked on first down, credited to Cameron Heyward, his eighth. A loss of five. He lost the ball after escaping another sack, and brought down again for a loss of seven. Throwing across his body, he threw high for Fitzgerald. Now fourth and 22…check that, fourth and 17 after an offside on Watt…Murray was under pressure once again, throwing up a pass that Haden came down with, his second of the game, now four on the season.