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Week 14 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Arizona Cardinals 17


What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

In Week 14 the Steelers went on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, but it might as well have been a home game with the number of Steelers fans in the stands. Ultimately, the Steelers did everything you could want a team to do. The Steelers lead in total yardage, first downs, turnovers, and time of possession.

Right off the bat on the first possession of the game the Steelers offensive line was pushing around the defensive line of the Cardinals. To make things easier on the Steelers, the Cardinals committed a personal foul for unnecessary roughness which extended the drive. As the Steelers were driving down the field, Pittsburgh rotated three backs in on the drive (Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, and Kerrith Whyte). The first drive for the Steelers ended with a field goal. Keeping the pressure on the Cardinals, the Steelers scored quickly on a punt return touchdown and then were able to pin their ears back and get after quarterback Kyler Murray, forcing three interceptions. The next meaningful drive for the Steelers didnít come until later in the second quarter. The Steelers were able to rally for an eight play 56-yard drive down the field and scored a field goal right before half time to put themselves up by three points.

In the second quarter, Joe Hayden intercepted Kyler Murray, his second interception in two weeks, stopped the Cardinals when they were marching down the field on the Steelers. Fortunately for the Steelers, the Cardinals kept turning the ball over in the second quarter with an interception to T.J. Watt early in end zone and Joe Haydenís second interception on the Cardinals final drive of the game.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona struggled on offense for a second straight game, this time with a traveling Steelers fan base largely taking over the Cardinalsí home stadium. Kyler Murray was consistently under pressure and, despite a comeback effort, fell short on the final drive with yet more pressure and a interception heave downfield. David Johnson looked healthier than recent weeks and added a downfield receiving touchdown among his five touches. There were snaps with Kenyan Drake, David Johnson, and Chase Edmonds all on the field. Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald combined for more than half of the teamís targets.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Devlin Hodges, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 16 - 19 - 152 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 5 - 34 - 0
Hodgesí performance was not a quarterback clinic, but it was a display of his tenacity and composure even though he isnít the most physically gifted or has much starting experience. On the first drive of the game Hodges took a sack when he moved up too far in the pocket and escaped protection. Hodges was able to follow the sack up with a great move out of the pocket. Hodges pump faked the ball to freeze the linebacker and pulled the ball down for a nice pickup on a scramble. Hodges also showed excellent mobility on a 21-yard rush. He broke containment and then slipped a tackle during the run. Hodges didnít have his first incompletion until about a minute left in the second quarter. Hodgesís best throw of the day was on his touchdown pass. The ball was well placed pass after Hodges fumbled the snap. He threw the ball perfectly with just enough velocity along the side of the end zone for Diontae Johnson.

RB Benny Snell, 24 offensive snaps, Rush: 16 - 41 - 0
The Steelers have a lot of faith in Benny Snell being their grinder and their primary ball carrier. On the first drive after the punt return for a touchdown, Snell fumbles the football. Instead of removing him from the game, the Steelers went back to him. Snellís best run came in the third quarter. Snell managed to just barely get to the outside and was able to use good leg drive to push forward to make a manageable third down for the Steelers. Snell drew a facemask foul, which could have been called a horse caller, and got the ball placed at the one-yard line.

RB Jaylen Samuels, 28 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 16 - 0, Rec: 2 - 18 - 0 (2 targets)
Samuels drew the start in Week 14 for the Steelers. He is one of three running backs in the NFL to lead their team in receptions. On his first touch Samuels took a swing pass in the flat and turned the reception upfield for an 18-yard gain. Samuelsí best catch came on a one-handed catch on a terribly thrown pass. Samuels managed to keep the ball after receiving a monster hit.

WR Diontae Johnson, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 16 - 0, Rec: 6 - 60 - 1 (8 targets)
Amazing bounce back game for Johnson after committing multiple penalties in Week 13. Johnson was able to return t first Steelers punt for a touchdown since Antonio Brown in 2015. Johnsonís previous punt return long was 15-yards. This return was 85-yards. Johnson did a great job stacking Cardinals defenders ahead of him. Displayed his great ability to work in the open field after the catch. As usual, Johnson was involved in multiple ways, out of the wildcat, Jaylen Samuels pitched Johnson the ball on an end around for 16-yards. On Johnsonís most dynamic play of the game, he was thrown the ball on a screen pass and was able to completely reverse field and was able to slip a tackle for a 14-yard run. Johnsonís best catch was on a timing route with Devlin Hodges for a touchdown. The ball was perfectly placed, and Johnson was able to make a great concentration catch close to the sideline in the end zone for the touchdown. Not to be outdone, Johnsonís final catch was almost as good. Johnson came back to the ball on a critical third down scramble drill late in the fourth quarter to get a first down and keep the clock running to the two-minute warning.

WR James Washington, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 33 - 0 (4 targets)
The yardage isnít always on the stat sheet. James Washington may have finished the day with only 33 -yards, but he was able to draw two defensive pass interference penalties against Byron Murphy for an additional 39-yards. Washingtonís best reception of the day came on a simple curl route. The reception was made in traffic and it took multiple defenders to bring him down after the catch.


Arizona Cardinals

QB Kyler Murray, 60 offensive snaps, Pass: 20 - 30 - 194 - 2 TD / 3 INT, Rush: 6 - 2 - 0
Murray had a clunky game against the Steelers, with consistent pocket pressure and largely failing to impact the game with his mobility. Four separate drives were ended due to sacks and Murray had an uncharacteristic poor decision outside the pocket on one of his career-high three interceptions. Murray rolled out on fourth down in the red zone, with a clear running lane to convert in front of him but forced the ball into double coverage instead and the end zone interception. Murray did show signs of life in the comeback effort with a laser deep sideline touchdown to David Johnson over the outstretched hands of an oncoming safety, but a potential game-winning drive was thwarted by pressure and a hail mary-like interception in the final minute.

RB Kenyan Drake, 39 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 37 - 0, Rec: 3 - 30 - 0 (3 targets)
Drake was the clear starter against the Steelers, but was largely held in check both as a runner and receiver. This marked the fifth straight game Drake collected at least 10 rushes with two chunk runs accounting for most of his production on the ground. As a receiver, Drake added a screen for nearly 20 yards as his lone impact. David Johnson looked more spry than previous weeks as a potential hazard to Drake keeping a dominant market share of the backfield in future weeks.

RB David Johnson, 22 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 19 - 0, Rec: 2 - 34 - 1 (2 targets)
Johnson played a clear secondary role to Kenyan Drake against the Steelers, but signs of life were present for the veteran back as he showed better movement than recent weeks. Johnson did not see the field until the mid-second quarter but had three highlight runs showing patience to the edge and on another occasion breaking a tackle and turning a loss into a positive play. Johnson was the highlight player of Arizonaís struggling passing game this week as well with a split-out chunk touchdown on one of Kyler Murrayís best passes of the game. The Browns suspect run defense is up next if Johnson can continue his positive momentum.

WR Christian Kirk, 58 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 8 - 85 - 0 (9 targets)
Kirk led the Cardinals in targets with nine and was the lone Arizona receiver to find any room against the Steelersí strong defense. Kirk was invisible in the first quarter but sprung to life with a deep over route for more than 30 yards as his highlight play and added a low grab on a third-down conversion. Kirk had three touchdown opportunities on red zone receivers but was stuffed on a screen and a goal-line touch pass of note.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, 55 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 20 - 0 (7 targets)
Fitzgerald saw a hearty seven targets but was held in check by the Steelers defense. Fitzgerald had a third-down conversion on a slant, but also logged an uncharacteristic drop on another third-down target. Fitzgerald had no touchdown on yards-after-catch opportunities this week in the non-descript effort.