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It was a beautiful day for football in Pittsburgh as the 3-2 Steelers took on the 4-1 Cardinals in Week-6 NFL action. The Cardinals and their high-flying offense looked to continue domination over their oppoents by improving on their impressive +100 point differential that they compiled through five games. The Steelers were coming off an emotional Monday Night Football win over the San Diego Chargers in Week 5.
The Steelers' defense had struggled on opening drives throughout this season, and those struggles continued when the Cardinals completed a deep pass on their first play from scrimmage when Carson Palmer hit John Brown for a 45-yard completion over Ross Cockrell which moved the ball to the Steelers' 32-yard line. Despite the big play, the Cardinals were pushed out of field goal range on a fumble by Chris Johnson and a personal-foul call on third down.
Pittsburgh took over after the Drew Butler punt and did absolutely nothing with their opening possession. The team failed to gain a yard, and punted after a near-interception on a third-and-12 pass from Michael Vick intended for Antonio Brown.
Jordan Berry only was able to get off a 31-yard punt, giving the Cardinals the football at the Pittsburgh 47-yard line. On 3rd-and-2, Palmer hit Andre Ellington for a 28-yard gain to the 8-yard line. Three plays later, it was a Palmer pass to Michael Floyd for an easy touchdown giving Arizona a 6-0 lead. The Chandler Catanzaro point-after gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead.
The Steelers' trend of special teams penalties continued on the ensuing kickoff with a Roosevelt Nix holding penalty which pushed the Steelers drive back to the 8-yard line to start their second possession. After a near-safety, a helmet-to-helmet roughing the passer penalty gave the Steelers their initial first down of the game. Michael Vick and company did nothing with the field position, and another Jordan Berry punt gave the Cardinals the ball back with 5:18 left in the opening frame.
On the first play of the Cardinals' drive, a Palmer pass was deflected by Vince Williams and intercepted by Lawrence Timmons, the first turnover of the game, giving the Steelers their best starting field position of the game at midfield. Despite a 9-yard Michael Vick run on first down, Pittsburgh failed to gain another yard and had to punt the ball back to Arizona. On the Jordan Berry punt, Brandon Boykin downed the ball at the Arizona 3-yard line with 3:34 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers allowed a Cardinals' drive which started at their 3-yard line to reach midifeld before a Cameron Heyward tackle of Chris Johnson forced a 3rd-and-5, and a Palmer pass fell incomplete forcing an Arizona punt which resulted in a touchback with 14:05 left in the first half.
Throughout the first quarter, the Steelers were able to muster only five yards of offense and one first down which derived from a penalty. The team's first drive of the second quarter started at their 20-yard line and a heavy dose of Le'Veon Bell got the team moving in the right direction. Although the Steelers did accomplish their first offensive first down of the game, their drive would stall at midfield and result in another Jordan Berry punt, his fourth of the first half.
The Cardinals continued to move the ball with ease against the Steelers' defense, and it was a completion to Larry Fitzgerald on 1st-and-25 for 44 yards which moved the ball well into Pittsburgh territory with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. However, the bend-don't-break defense stood tall and forced a Chander Catanzaro 47-yard field goal which sailed wide left. Despite the Cardinals' dominance, they led by only 7-0 with 9:18 left in the half.
Pittsburgh, aided by several Cardinals' penalties, were able to move the ball into field goal range, and a Chris Boswell 47-yard field goal narrowed the Arizona lead to 7-3. It was noteworthy that, on the next-to-last series of the half, Michael Vick was removed from the game after he scrambled and was kneed in the head. Landry Jones entered the game to hand the ball to Le'Veon Bell on 3rd and 1. Bell was stuffed and the failed conversion led to a field goal.
The Cardinals next offensive possession started at their own 20-yard line, and the theme of the drive was big third- down completions. Palmer completed big passes on third down to Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington, as they moved down the field and into field goal range. Arizona wasn't about to settle for a field goal and drove into the red-zone, but an offensive pass-interference call on a Michael Floyd stalled the drive and resulted in a 31-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal, giving the Cardinals a 10-3 lead with 47 seconds left in the half.
The Steelers would again go three-and-out and Berry would punt the ball back to the Cardinals with 13 seconds left in the half. Arizona would take a knee to end the half with a 10-3 lead. Throughout the entire first half, the Steelers failed to convert a first down, Michael Vick had six passing yards and Antonio Brown had -2 yards receiving.
To start the second half, Dri Archer took the opening kickoff 35-yards, the longest runback of his short NFL career, giving the Steelers good starting field position. Todd Haley used several trick plays and reverses to get three consecutive first downs. It was a lot of Michael Vick using his legs to move the ball to the Arizona 30-yard line, and although the drive stalled, the Steelers were able to use a Chris Boswell 48-yard field goal to cut into the Cardinals' lead, making it 10-6 with 11:14 left in the third quarter.
On the next Arizona possession, a catch by John Brown followed by a huge hit by James Harrison caused a fumble which Pittsburgh recovered, giving them the ball on the Arizona 30-yard line. Michael Vick, who was injured on the previous drive, was replaced by third-year quarterback Landry Jones. A 22-yard first down run by Le'Veon Bell gave the Steelers 1st-and-goal from the 8-yard line. On third down, Jones hit Martavis Bryant for a touchdown, giving Pittsburgh a 12-10 lead. The Steelers went for the two-point conversion, and failed when Jones' pass intended for Antonio Brown was picked off by Patrick Peterson.
The Cardinals stared their second possession of the second half at their 30-yard line, and on a 3rd-and-18 play, James Harrison was able to sack Carson Palmer, forcing a punt with 6:21 left in the third quarter. The next Steelers' drive started at their 40-yard line and, on third down, Jones hit Martavis Bryant for a big conversion, moving the ball to the Arizona 41-yard line. Jones would be able to move the ball into field goal range, and Chris Boswell would nail a 51-yard field goal to give the Steelers 15-10 lead with 2:32 left in the third quarter. The kick was Boswell's third field goal, all in his first experience kicking at Heinz Field.
The Cardinals hadn't moved the ball after the first quarter, but were able to do so with a big pass play to John Brown moving the ball into Pittsburgh territory. The Cardinals' drive would stall and the team would have to settle for a Chandler Catanzaro 39-yard field goal to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 15-12 with 14:56 left in the game.
As Pittsburgh started their next drive on their 20-yard line, it was more Landry Jones throwing to Martavis Bryant as the duo connected again for another first down. Jones mixed in passes to Antonio Brown as the team moved into Arizona territory with a chance to extend their lead. Jones continued to move the football as the offense showed tremendous balance between the run and the pass, but the drive stalled at the 10-yard line and the Steelers would have to settle for another Boswell 28-yard field goal to extend their lead 18-13 with 7:19 left in the game.
The Cardinals took the football and started their drive at their 20-yard line and were able to string together completions and move within the Pittsburgh 40-yard line with 4:00 minutes left in the game. On a 3rd and 8, Palmer hit John Brown for a huge first down and extended the Cardinals' drive. The next play would be a pass from Palmer which was intercepted in the end zone by Mike Mitchell. It was Mitchell's first interception as a member of the Steelers, and the Steelers' 3rd turnover of the game.
With 2:20 left in the game, the Steelers started their drive on their own 10-yard line due to a personal foul penalty on James Harrison after the interception. After a Le'Veon Bell run caused the Cardinals to use a timeout, the Steelers threw the ball on 2nd down and Jones hit Martavis Bryant for an 88-yard catch and run for a touchdown. After the Boswell extra point, the Steelers found themselves with a 25-13 lead with 1:58 left in the game.
The Cardinals started their final drive with two timeouts remaining, and they moved the ball easily down the field with the Steelers in their prevent defense. It took only 4 plays for the Cardinals to move into the red-zone, but a failed 4th down conversion would end the game with a final score 25-13.
The Steelers advance their record to 4-2, while the Cardinals record moves to 4-2 as well. The Steelers will travel to Arrowhead Stadium next week to play the Kansas City Chiefs.