The Pittsburgh Steelers were looking for any sign of life in their offense during the second half against the Arizona Cardinals. Michael Vick's early struggles didn't yield much in the way of results, but the defense still managed to limit what has been the NFL's highest-scoring offense to only 10 points in the third quarter. James Harrison's forced fumble gave Pittsburgh its best starting field-position of the day, and then the offense started clicking.
Starting their possession after the fumble, the Steelers went to their playmaker, Le'Veon Bell, who ran for 22 yards. But it's how he did it that made this play fun to watch.
Coming into this game, we mentioned in our preview film room article some of the weaknesses in the Cardinals' defense that Pittsburgh should look to exploit. Some of our highlights focused on how aggressive Arizona was with their defense in flowing to the strong side of the play and the weakness they exposed against backside runs. That's exactly what happened here.
Arizona shifted every one of its defenders except for two, leaving a good opportunity for both Heath Miller and Marcus Gilbert to seal off their assignments and spring Bell for a big play. Ameer Abdullah had a similar opportunity the week prior, and Todd Gurley made a big run the same way when the Rams defeated Arizona. The Steelers saw one of the Cardinals' strength in their aggressive defense and turned it against them.
This play is less about scheming and more about knowing that if Antonio Brown has single-coverage with a cornerback playing tight, whether it's Patrick Peterson or not, you still want to throw the ball to Brown giving him a chance to make a play.
Here, Landry Jones recognized the tight single coverage on Brown and knew exactly where he was going before the ball was even snapped. He takes one quick step back and fires a pass on the money for a back-shoulder catch by Brown. With Brown beating Peterson at the line of scrimmage, Peterson had to play catch up and focus on trying to hopefully take away the deep pass. But this never gives him the chance to realize the back-shoulder throw is coming. If Jones can do this regularly, the Steelers' offense could be putting up a good amount of points against Kansas City next week.
The Steelers called a solid in route for Jones to throw to Bryant on, but they couldn't have counted on him to make this kind of a play. Take note of a couple factors that helped Bryant score:
- For all the talk of Antonio Brown being a "diva" by some, you don't see divas running the length of the football field trying to lead the way for the team's second wideout to score. Brown's being in front prevents any Cardinals' player from getting directly in front of Bryant, keeping the sideline open for scoring.
- Notice how both starting safeties, Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon, run down the field to try to use their angle to catch Bryant. They're both keeping their head on a swivel extra-carefully looking for the big block from oncoming Steelers. Mathieu eventually does duck out of the way when Heath Miller catches him and tries to block, but this helped Bryant get behind the Cardinals' last line of defense.
You cannot coach speed though, and Bryant blazed through Arizona's secondary like the roadrunner through an ACME trap.