Ah, there is the one putrid loss of the season. The Steelers always have at least one loss to a far inferior team, and it was only a matter of time before it happened in 2023.
There isn’t a whole lot of good things to be said about yesterday, so the JV list is going to be much longer than the Varsity list- let’s get into it.
EDGE Alex Highsmith
Highsmith had two really good plays early on in the game. He stuffed James Conner in the backfield on the Cardinals second drive for a two-yard loss, and had his first sack in four games on Murray later on in the first half. He finished the day with 1.5 sacks and eight tackles.
DT Keeanu Benton
Benton blew up multiple plays Sunday. He was constantly blowing up his assignment, and he also batted down a pass early on in the game. Another nice showing for No. 95.
EDGE T.J. Watt
Watt had half a sack to take his season total up to 14. He also had two hits on Murray, a tackle for loss, and six total tackles. Hopefully the ankle isn’t anything to serious.
RBs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren
Both Harris and Warren looked primed for big days early on. The Cardinals couldn’t stop the run game, but once the Steelers kept shooting themselves in the foot and got down, they had to abandon the run for the most part. Harris finished the day with 63 yards on 16 carries, while Warren had 59 yards on nine touches. Over 120 yards on the ground all for not.
ST Miles Killebrew
I mean, what the hell man? Three penalties as a special teams player? That’s almost impressive to an extent. He ran into Cardinals’ punter Blake Gillikin on Arizona’s first punt. He ran into Greg Dortch after he fair caught a punt- there’s an extra 15 yards. He pulled the facemask of Dortch on another punt- another 15 yards. Just a really bad overall performance.
C Mason Cole
Can you get a snap off the ground? Multiple times both Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky had to field horrid snaps that were too low. One resulted in a fumble that the Cardinals recovered and turned into a touchdown to take a 17-3 lead, and that was the dagger. Cole has been bad all season with few exceptions. Having a black hole in the middle of your offensive line is going to cause major problems, and he was a large reason the Steelers lost Sunday.
ILBs Mykal Walker and Mark Robinson
Look, I get it. Walker has been with the team for less than a month. Robinson is a reserve for a reason. However, the Cardinals saw the weakness in the Steelers’ defense and exploited it as soon as Elandon Roberts went down with a groin injury. Murray targeted the shallow part of the field with Trey McBride, and Arizona marched down the field for a 99-yard touchdown drive. Look at Kyler Murray’s passing chart from that game- the vast majority of his completions are in the shallow portion of the field. Kudos to the Cardinals for exploiting the weakness.
Everyone as a whole was bad. The Cardinals ran for 150 yards, and the Steelers couldn’t tackle. James Conner, in particular, had a big game in his return to Pittsburgh with 105 yards and two touchdowns. Tackling seems to always be a problem for Pittsburgh, and Sunday was another glaring example of it.
OC Eddie Faulkner
There were too many times in this game where Matt Canada’s fingerprints were visible. The screen pass to Diontae Johnson on third down and four that went nowhere was a bad call that resulted in a punt. But the call that made everyone shake their heads was the call on fourth and goal. Why are you coming out in shotgun from the one yard-line? That play was the turning point of the game, as the Cardinals scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to go up 10-3 and never looked back.
HC Mike Tomlin
Zero excuses. The Steelers didn’t come into this week taking the Cardinals seriously, and they had no right to be so arrogant in that sense. None of their wins this season have been convincing, nor did they field the best quarterback on the field Sunday. Even Jaylen Warren said that Pittsburgh took the Cardinals lightly- that’s a coaching problem, and it falls all on Mike Tomlin.