It was a day of weather delays, injuries and disappointment for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13, who fell to 7-5 with a loss to the Arizona Cardinals at home. Heading into the game, the Cardinals stood with a 2-10 record and in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, holding the second-worst record in the league.
The Cardinals won the opening coin toss and elected to defer. It seemed like the Steelers were set to take full advantage of it, too, marching down the field 65 yards only to get stopped at the Cardinals’ 11-yard line. Quarterback Kenny Pickett showed some early rhythm right off the bat, completing a 13-yard gain to receiver George Pickens on their first play of the game. Najee Harris followed that up with a nine-yard run before Pickett went back to Pickens for another chunk gain — this time a 38-yard bomb. Despite all the juice, a seemingly very promising drive stalled out, and kicker Chris Boswell was good from 29 yards. 3-0, Steelers.
Despite holding the Cardinals to a punt on their first possession, it wasn’t long before things started to go downhill for the Steelers, punting on their second possession before allowing the Cardinals a field goal on their second drive of the game. They punted on three consecutive drives before the offense started to click again, executing 12 plays for 79 yards before getting stopped on fourth and goal. Unfortunately, missing out on the touchdown wasn’t the worst of it, however, as starting quarterback Kenny Pickett exited and was subsequently ruled out with an ankle injury. It was the third injury to a starter on the day, the others being to LG Isaac Seumalo and LB Elandon Roberts, ruled out with shoulder and groin injuries, respectively.
After receiving the opening up the half kickoff, the Cardinals went three and out, but it wasn’t long before their luck turned around. After a botched snap from center Mason Cole to backup QB Mitch Trubisky, Arizona recovered the fumble, setting up former Steelers RB James Conner to run it up the middle for a one-yard touchdown. 17-3, Cardinals. Just as the Cardinals were set to kick off following the score, the game was suspended for a second time due to lightning in the area. The delay would last a full a 53 minutes before resuming with 7:18 left in the third quarter.
Returning from the weather delay, the Steelers seemed like they were cooking up something, marching down the field 48 yards before Chris Boswell missed a 45-yard field goal — another tough break for the Steelers that perfectly encapsulated the bad vibes that reverberated through this roster and the stadium in its entirety in Week 13.
With just over eight minutes left in the fourth and down 21 points to the Cardinals, Pittsburgh made another attempt down the field which ended in a two-yard touchdown to Diontae Johnson. He’d had a quiet day before the drive, having totaled just five yards in the whole game leading up to the fourth quarter. Johnson celebrated excessively, considering his team was still down 14 points... but who are we to judge?
The Cardinals eventually knelt it out, winning their first game on the road this season — a 24-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now, the Steelers enter Week 14 on a short week, set to play the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football at home at Acrisure Stadium. Given the number of injuries incurred, it’s as bad a week as anyway to be on a short turnaround.