Steelers Getting Plays From Their Playmakers Bodes Well For Postseason

So let’s talk about the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers, on the whole, got a great night of work from their playmakers on offense. And that was basically without their greatest and most significant playmaker in Antonio Brown, who likely will not be seen again until the postseason.

On the night, for example, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed passes to a season-high eight different targets, the only players dressed who did not catch a pass who were eligible to catch one being Roosevelt Nix, James Conner, Fitzgerald Toussaint…and Jerald Hawkins.

Eli Rogers may have only caught one pass during the game, but it was a big one. The Steelers were unable to move far on their opening drive, and then the defense quickly gave up a touchdown to the Patriots. But the offense responded, and that included the third-year receiver pulling in an 18-yard touchdown.

While the bulk of his quality work came on the ground, to the tune of 117 rushing yards on 24 carries, plus a rushing touchdown, Le’Veon Bell also had his contributions through the air. He even opened the game with a 17-yard reception, the first of five on the night for 48 yards, though all of it came in the first half.

Even Xavier Grimble, who has five catches in total on the season, did a great job of selling the block on a key third-down play late, running out of 22 personnel, before getting open for Roethlisberger to find him for an eight-yard reception and set up a first and goal.

And then there were the two big guns, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Martavis Bryant, both of whom had strong games as receivers. With Brown limited to just two receptions for 24 yards before he suffered a torn calf muscle while attempting to reel in a touchdown pass, that effort was necessary.

Smith-Schuster, who missed the last game due to a suspension and then entered this game questionable with a hamstring injury, recorded his second 100-yard game of the season, thanks primarily to one of the last plays of the game, a 69-yard catch-and-run that set up the would-be game-winning touchdown-that-wasn’t.

Bryant, meanwhile, had four receptions, three of them being big ones. One of them converted on third down, while another went for 39 yards on a stellar grab from a long ball that was a bit too long. Finally, his four-yard touchdown pass on a fade from Roethlisberger making a one-handed catch over his shoulder was a true highlight.

Finally, let’s not forget about Jesse James, who after a career game the week before very nearly delivered the Steelers to victory over their greatest nemesis. His valiant effort to score was stymied only by a poorly-conceived rule, wiping out a 10-yard go-ahead score with half a minute remaining.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Chris92021

    I agree with all except Eli Rogers. Rogers is bad news. That now makes it the 4th interception thrown by Big Ben when targeting Rogers in the last two seasons. Given that Rogers has not played much, that is staggering high. Rogers is nothing special. He’s a guy and that’s it. That TD you speak of is more Big Ben than Rogers. It even looked like Rogers had difficulty pulling it in. And Rogers letting the punt bounce to the 3 yard line because he was scared to fair catch it on the sideline? I still want to see Sutton return those punts in the final two games.

    I still love our chances but man, I lost more faith in Todd Haley and Keith Butler last night. The playcalling in the 3rd and 4th quarter was not great. And Butler asking Davis to cover Gronkowski by himself with hardly any help? Why would you ask a below average safety with little confidence who has poor coverage skills coming off an awful game against Baltimore to single cover the most physically gifted tight end of all time in his prime? No matter what happens after this season, both men need to go, period. The Steelers are a bunch of lions being led by donkeys.

  • PittShawnC

    Couldn’t agree more Matt. Even if it’s only a target or three, if MB and Eli can continue to chip in on top of AB/Juju…it’s going to make us very hard to beat.

  • nutty32

    We outplayed the Pats & easily the better, more talented team. Yesterday was a classic sports choke job. Pats have our number and in our heads; coaches, players, and fans. It’s disgusting. Someone needs to step up and punch them in the mouth to flip the script of us being Ahab to their Moby Dick.

  • Intense Camel

    I blame no one but Ben for that int. Should have thrown it away.

  • Chris92021

    Loved how Big Ben deflected the blame by saying the sideline told him to go for it. Even if that happens, given how chaotic it was, you disregard the sideline and SPIKE THE BALL and kick the field goal and go into OT. You are the f’ing QB of this team. You are the one taking the snap, not the coaching staff. We lose in OT, fine, whatever. But Big Ben throwing the ball to Rogers is not just bad, it it is flat out stupid especially since it is the one route you don’t run inside the 5 yard line. Just ask the Seahawks.

  • www_jonahyo_net

    I believe everything you said right here. The Pats are to the Steelers as the Steelers are to the Bengals.

  • www_jonahyo_net

    Perhaps we need to put JuJu at outside linebacker so he can start punishing quarterbacks too.

  • NCSteel

    Thats right.
    And Ju Ju taking that punt out of the end zone at the end burned about 4 seconds of time and lost 4 yards, I love Ju Ju but that was also a mistake.

  • NCSteel

    Don’t know about you but the refs are the only ones in my head.

  • NCSteel

    Yea, great night for the playmakers, they could hear the signals, the headsets worked and they weren’t awakened st 3 in the morning by the hotel staff pulling the fire alarm.
    You can write any rainbows and unicorns story you want, we were robbed and the road to the playoffs just got harder, a lot harder.

  • LucasY59

    IF AB was still in the game I think MB wouldve had a much bigger game, and it was great to see S-S step up huge with the game on the line (even him somewhat screening for JJ was great) too bad the refs decided the game instead of the players (who were making great plays on both teams, Gronk is unstoppable) Bell being effective as he was w/o AB was also great…having the O (as close to 100% as possible will mean they could really start lighting things up in the postseason)

    NFL is in trouble, biggest games of the year getting decided by minute details (…not enough evidence to 100% overturn) instead of letting the players make the plays, is going to make people stop watching (…plus all the other reasons fans have started to boycott) there will be a lockout with the next CBA (the players will get screwed unless they make the owners start to lose $) and because of a lockout fans will lose interest (along with all the other reasons to stop watching)

  • StrengthOfVictory

    I’m sick about this loss. Absolutely disgusted. There’s no way around it. Steelers outplayed the Pats, but somehow let them escape with a win—and it’s maddening, because they didn’t deserve it.

    But the most important thing for this team now is to handle their business, lock up the #2 seed (with an outside, remote chance at the #1), get healthy, and make noise in the playoffs.

  • CountryClub

    You saw the issues this team has without Brown, though. Once he was out of the game. and not being doubled, the other guys struggled to get open.

  • Intense Camel

    I give him a pass for that one. He was backpedaling into the endzone as he was making the catch and probably was unsure if he could kneel it or not so I’m guessing he just took off to be safe. He’s a rookie returning kicks for the first game, in a high pressure situation and didn’t want to make a mistake to cost them the game.. He more than made up for that with his catch and run.

  • LucasY59

    its pretty obvious they wont be the same after losing the best WR in the league

  • Intense Camel

    Yea, that was dumb. The coaches have nothing to do with you throwing the ball, neither does the call. If the throw wasn’t completely wide open in the endzone you throw it away, kick the fg and go to OT. No excuse for the game ending like it did.

  • CountryClub

    Of course. That’s not the point.

  • Chris92021

    I honestly believe that Big Ben in his famous passive-aggressive way only talked retirement because he does not like playing for Todd Haley so every chance he gets, he lets us know how much he does not like Haley. Haley is doing himself no favors.

    In that particular situation when the ENTIRE OFFENSE is expecting a spike and the defense is chaotic, you don’t get cute. I would rather see Haley and Ben yell at each other while the field goal team is on instead of seeing what happened yesterday. Can’t fault Rogers either because he’s not good enough to make that play and Big Ben asked him to do something that is beyond his skill level. I put the loss on a terrible rule which will not get written out unless it happens to the Patriots in a negative fashion (I hope next week the Patriots lose to the Bills that way, with Gronk being declared “not surviving the ground”) and on Big Ben’s poor decision making.

  • Roger Wesley

    why at the end of the game wasn’t m bryant and juju in there they had dhb and rogers doesn’t make sense. should have used the best receivers we had

  • Intense Camel

    Ben just needs to be smarter, period. He still makes these rookie-like mistakes and it’s baffling at times.

  • LucasY59

    what is the point? they are supposed to be the same without him? that is totally unrealistic

  • rystorm06

    I thought the same thing with the 2nd and 23 call to Toussaint. If you’re trying to ice the game, first of all, stupid play call, and secondly, why wasn’t Bell in the game in this situation? If the offense is trying to put the game on ice, you should have your best players in there.

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    Exactly. Most dumb ill conceived play I’ve seen since the Super Bowl Seattle gave New England. And why would you have the wrong Personnel at WR in. Martavis Bryant should have been the man and it should have been an out route or any route not directed at the teeth of the defense. That was just plain stupid

  • Ehrren Lee Phyzeque

    Thank you!!!

  • NCSteel

    Agreed, just saying, playing mistake free as much as possible would eliminate this mess.

  • Chad Weiss

    I Bryant isn’t capable of playing in the red zone cause there’s no field for him to run his one route.Who the hell in their right mind gonna trust him to catch it and we all know for sure he sure the hell isn’t winning no combative catch.