There are few on the Pittsburgh Steelers who can sincerely hold their head up high after Sunday’s game and say that they did the best that they could on the field. Third-year wide receiver Martavis Bryant did not count himself among them in the contest during which he caught just two of eight official targets for 30 yards.
Bryant was coming off a big game from the week before in which he caught three passes for 91 yards and a touchdown, including a pair of explosive plays, a 51-yard bomb on a go route off of a defensive offside penalty and then a 27-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown on a slant.
The Steelers wanted to get back to that go ball immediately on Sunday, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger firing one off on the first play of the game to Bryant, who got behind two defenders and was in position to bring in a well-thrown ball that he dropped. The pass was just a little bit long, but it was catchable.
“I feel like I didn’t play to the best of my ability”, he told Missi Matthews for the team’s website following the game. “I had my hands on the ball a couple times and couldn’t come up with the catch”. While he did not drop another of his other five failed targets, it was just a generally rough day all around.
“It was just a hard day for us”, he went on to tell the interviewer. “We lost, but you’ve just got to get back in the lab tomorrow and get better for next week”.
So far this season, in the three games that he has played since he has returned from what ended up being a year-long suspension, Bryant has only caught seven of 18 targets with two drops for 135 yards. While he is averaging 19.3 yards per reception, he is only averaging 7.5 yards per target, and 1.4 yards per route run.
Three games is still too small a sample size, however, to pass any sort of judgement, and we already saw what he could look like a week ago. The fact that such a high percentage of his targets are on deep passes this year is not doing his catch rate any favors.
He did say that he felt that the offense as a whole started to progress “we went no-huddle”, saying, “everything started coming along for us”. That led to the their first touchdown of the day, but they struggled in the second half, about which he said, “we just didn’t finish”.
Baltimore is a place that they have really struggled to finish lately. The Steelers have lost their last four games there, and that is where they are heading next. Will Bryant help turn things around there, both for himself and for the offense?