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Steelers Film Room: Game-Changing plays in the Steelers' win over the Cardinals

When it came to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 25-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6, there were a handful of plays which changed the course of the game. Game-Changing plays, if you will. We analyze three in this edition of Steelers Film Room.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes all it takes is a little good fortune, and a "me against the world" attitude to pull of an upset. Some would suggest that was the exact formula the Pittsburgh Steelers utilized in their win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6 at Heinz Field Sunday. It wasn't always pretty, but the home team claimed victory and was able to advance their record to 4-2.

Throughout the game there were several big plays, but only a few could truly be considered game-changing plays. Here at BTSC we chose three to focus on, and break down. Enjoy the analysis on these plays which changed the landscape, and the outcomes, of the football game.

First Play:

Young football players at home watching these GIFs, take note of James Harrison. For 75-percent of outside linebackers in the NFL today, they don't do what he does on this play. Simply put, he could have easily run out to the flat to help make the tackle and to play another down, but Harrison doesn't view the game with such a mundane attitude. Harrison's goal is to hit the player, in this case John Brown, so hard he doesn't only feel it on Monday, but that he dislodges the ball causing a fumble.

Harrison does both on this play, and it shows his heart, and hustle, haven't left his 37-year-old body. This play came at a time when the Steelers needed something good to go their way, and it resulted in POT. No, not the medicinal kind, but Points Off Turnovers. Good teams take advantage of other team's miscues, and the Steelers did just that on Sunday. No surprise, the spark which ignited this Pittsburgh team started with the man they call 'Deebo'.

Second Play:

Speaking of POT, again not the Dazed and Confused variety, the Steelers were able to capitalize on Harrison's previous play with this strike by Landry Jones to Martavis Bryant. Again, Points Off Turnovers (POT) is a huge statistic in the NFL today, and the Steelers were able to do just that on Sunday.

To paint a better picture of this play, the Steelers had gotten into the red-zone mainly on the back of Le'Veon Bell, but it was time for Landry Jones to produce through the air. After a not-so-pretty attempt to Bryant on 2nd down, Jones reads this play perfectly.

Notice Jones doesn't ever look to the left side of the field, where Antonio Brown is running his route. Jones might lack playmaking ability at times, but he is a smart football player. Realizing a field goal is still a huge play, he goes with the safest option. Throw the ball where only a Pittsburgh Steelers player can catch it, and if he doesn't Chris Boswell can pull the team to within one point with a field goal.

Thankfully, Jones has a player who is 6-feet 4-inches and has a vertical leap of a basketball player in Martavis Bryant who was able to "climb the ladder" to score the team's first touchdown, and give the team a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Plain and simple, it was a smart decision by Jones, as all other routes would have been a contested pass, but an even better catch by Bryant.

Third Play:

Late in the third quarter the Steelers were clinging to a 5-point lead after a Chris Boswell field goal moved the score to 15-10 in favor of the home team. The Cardinals hadn't been scoring, but certainly had been hitting on big third down plays and putting together long drives. On the ensuing kickoff after the field goal, Arizona was faced with a 3rd and 2 from their own 21-yard line.

Steelers fans everywhere knew a three-and-out would do more than give the Steelers great field position, but potentially break the back, and spirit, of the opposition. When the Cardinals decide to run a sweep right with Andre Ellington, the play looks as if it has promise to get the team a first down, but before looking at Arthur Moats in the GIF above, look at No. 31 Ross Cockrell. Recognizing the run play, he attacks the outside of the lead blocker to not only take out the blocker, but to force the run inside. This is where Mr. Moats comes into play. After freeing his hands, he is able to knife through the line and make a play in the backfield for a 2-yard loss and forcing Arizona to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh to start the 4th quarter.

The Steelers defense might not be the most talented, or the most experienced, but they play hard and fast. Look at Mike Mitchell on this play. He was blitzing the run on the right side, and is able to run down the play and at least get a hat in on the tackle. A great play which was huge for this Steelers defense going against the NFL's most prolific offense.


I always go back to what Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs said during his tenure as a coach. You can point to 3 or 4 plays which decided the outcome of any football game. In this Week 6 game against the Arizona Cardinals, the team who made those plays count were wearing black and gold uniforms. The Steelers have the look of a contender, and if they continue to play such an opportunistic brand of football, even with several backups, the sky is the limit for the boys from the Steel City.