The Pittsburgh Steelers are a very inconsistent team, and nothing showed this more than the team rebounding from losses to the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders with a huge home win vs. the New England Patriots in Week 15. It doesn’t get any easier for the Steelers though, as the New Orleans Saints await in Week 16.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article, we take a look at how two rookies, Jaylen Samuels and James Washington, helped pave the way for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15. Talk about timely performances from these two young players. For them, the future is bright.
Let’s get to the news:
By: Joe Rutter, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Five things we learned from Steelers 17, Patriots 10:
1. The rookies are growing up.
In the biggest game of the year, the least experienced players on the Steelers roster played above their years and made significant contributions to the win.
It was Jaylen Samuels finding seams on the perimeter while rushing for 142 yards, the first time he exceeded 100 yards rushing at any level. It was his catch on third-and-9 that went for 20 yards in the fourth quarter, extending a drive that helped the Steelers run down the clock prior to Chris Boswell’s 48-yard field goal.
It was James Washington leading the Steelers with 65 receiving yards on three catches, including 32-yard and 24-yard gains on a third-quarter drive that ended with a missed field goal.
It was Terrell Edmunds assisting in the tall order of covering Rob Gronkowski, helping the Steelers hold the 6-foot-7 tight end Rob Gronkowski to two catches for 21 yards. Edmunds was one of the safeties blanketing Gronkowski on the Patriots final drive when Tom Brady was unable to find his favorite target.
Add it all up and it was a good day for the prominent members of the rookie class.
2. Two ill-timed passes killed promising drives.
Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted twice – once in each half, and each pick derailed a possession in which the running game was wearing down the Patriots.
In the second quarter, with the Steelers pinned at their 1, Stevan Ridley broke off a 12-yard run. A pass to Antonio Brown gained 24 yards, and Samuels went 17 yards to put the ball at the Patriots 46. That run gave Samuels 70 yards on seven carries with more than six minutes remaining in the half.
Samuels didn’t see the ball again until after halftime. Two plays later, Roethlisberger was intercepted at the Patriots’ 24.
Samuels wasn’t involved in any of the five plays on the next drive, the final one in the half for the Steelers.
It was more of the same when the Steelers got the ball back late in the third quarter after Stephen Gostkowski’s 33-yard field goal pulled the Patriots to within 14-10. Samuels opened the drive with runs of 6, 15 and 4 yards. On second-and-6, Roethlisberger threw an incompletion deep. On third down, his pass for Brown was deflected and intercepted at the Patriots’ 41.
Samuels never carried more than 12 times in a game during his four years at N.C. State. He had 19 against the Patriots but could have benefited from a few more touches in critical moments.
3. Two third-down passes helped salvage the quarterback’s day.
With the Steelers trying to keep Tom Brady on the sideline for as long as possible in the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger made a pair of third-down completions that did precisely that after Joe Haden’s interception at the Steelers’ 4.
Needing seven yards on third down at the Steelers’ 7, Roethlisberger found tight end Vance McDonald for eight yards. Facing a third-and-9 later in the drive, Roethlisberger hit Samuels with a short pass, and the rookie took the ball 20 yards.
It wasn’t Roethlisberger’s finest work in the second half. He was 5 of 11 for 85 yards, with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith Schuster combining for one catch over the final 30 minutes. But those third-down completions at the end helped the Steelers exhaust more than five minutes off the clock. Brady could do nothing more than watch.
(For more, click the link in the headline...)
By: Frank Carnevale, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster had an average game in helping the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the New England Patriots on Sunday.
He caught 4 passes for 40 yards in the Steelers’ 17-10 win at Heinz Field. It was not his best performance of the season, but enough to get Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s attention.
After the game Belichick sought him out and shook hands, according to Smith-Shuster’s tweet after the game .
“Crazy to have Coach Belichick, a legendary coach I’ve watched my whole life, come up to me after the game and tell me he respects my game and how I play!!!”
The second-year player ranks seventh in the league with 1,274 receiving yards and 95 receptions.
Last week leading up to the game, Belichick spoke highly of Smith-Shuster, as well as fellow wide receiver Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
“Yeah, you’re not going to get anybody better than these two guys, plus the quarterback,” Belichick said . “They’ve got a lot of other guys, too, but I mean, these two receivers are elite – elite elite.”
By: Jeremy Fowler, ESPN
They knocked off the New England Patriots for the first time in seven years with the defense prominently featured. The Steelers aren’t about to act like that doesn’t mean something.
”That’s a good feeling for us,” said cornerback Joe Haden, whose fourth-quarter interception swung momentum in a 17-10 victory.
”It was just time, man,” added fellow corner Mike Hilton about snapping the Patriots’ five-game winning streak over his squad.
But this team has seen too much, knows too much to hyperventilate over any win. They watched Le’Veon Bell leave and never return. They’ve sandwiched a six-game winning streak with a 2-5-1 record, entering Sunday’s matchup with three straight losses. They can hold Tom Brady to 10 points and lose to the Oakland Raiders within an eight-day span.
And now they are watching Lamar Jackson run, run, run the Baltimore Ravens into the playoff conversation.
So excuse Steelers guard David DeCastro for quelling the hype over slaying the Patriots.
”It’s one of those games where even though I hadn’t beaten them in my career, everyone’s like, ‘Well, the Ravens are still a half-game behind,’” DeCastro said. “Everyone was like, ‘We knew we could do this.’ No one on this team thought we couldn’t beat them.
”We can beat anybody. We can also lose to anybody.”