In the middle of the third quarter, I was all ready to start this by post by praising the Pittsburgh Steelers D, and critizing the offense for another atrocious display against the Arizona Cardinals. And then something happened. An offensive explosion!
3rd year QB Landry Jones entered the game in the 3rd quarter after Mike Vick suffered a hamstring injury. Although he started shaky with a couple of under thrown an errant passes, he eventually looked more confident and the offense much more fluid while he was at the helm, scoring 19 points, including a sensational 88 yard catch and run for a touchdown by Martavis Bryant, in his first game of 2015. Bryant caught 6 passes for 137 yards and 2 TDs.
Jones finished the game 8/12 for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first regular season action since being drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round out of Oklahoma in 2013. He looked to have a better command of the system, especially at the line of scrimmage where he made a couple of adjustments based on what the Cardinals defense showed him.
It would be interesting to see what he could do with a full week of practice with the first team, that is if Coach Mike Tomlin makes him the starter for week 7.
But, the real stars of the game was the D. In the first three and a half quarters, they carried the entire load. I knew if they got anything from the offense they could pull off the upset. Holding the number one ranked scoring offense (38.0 ppg) in the NFL to only 13 is a huge confidence boost for this young group going forward.
This defense forced 3 turnovers, the last one, a victory clinching interception by Mike Mitchell. Most importantly they held Carson Palmer and the Cardinals to 5/13 in my favorite stat, 3rd and 4th down efficiency.
Finally, the Black & Gold has what seems to be a reliable field goal kicker. Chris Boswell was 4 for 4 on the day, including a 51-yarder in his first action in Heinz Field.
This was a huge win to stay in he race for the AFC North title, especially considering the Cincinnati Bengals remain undefeated at 6-0. FYI, last year at this point, the Steelers were 3-3 and they still wound up winning the division. Next up for Pittsburgh (4-2), the (1-5) Chiefs at Kansas City.