2019 Recall: Steelers stave off Cardinals for third-straight win heading into the playoff stretch
Steel City Underground presents our 2019 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.
This was a game that the Steelers absolutely needed to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Headed on the road to play at Arizona, you wouldn’t have known it was a travel game based on the amount of Pittsburgh fans making noise inside of State Farm Stadium.
Arizona appeared to be an upstart team with a new coach and a high draft pick invested in rookie quarterback, and Heisman Trophy winner, Kyler Murray. Yet, it was the Steelers who came out and never looked back, even if the game appeared to swing like a pendulum at times.
An eight-minute drive marked the Steelers first possession, but as had been the case on offense, the Black and Gold came up short on the 12-yard line, leading to a Chris Boswell field goal to go up 3-0.
The Steelers defense forced a three-and-out on the Cardinals second possession, which would lead to a huge play to go up even further.
A week after being heavily criticized for giving up on a route where Devlin Hodges was intercepted, Diontae Johnson bounced back in a big way: and made a particular blogger eat his words days after flaunting that the rookie receiver may not be cut out to play special teams.
On fourth down, Cardinals punter Andy Lee blasted the football on a 60-yard punt which saw the Steelers’ Johnson receive the ball on his own 15-yard line… and then make a go of it!
Johnson would make the two Cardinals gunners pay for going too deep and then make other Arizona players spill all over the field with missed tackles before finding a convoy of his own teammates wearing white, paving the path all the way to the endzone for an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown.
The short field position got Arizona to within seven points, and then a tie when they drove 85 yards on their next possession, capped off by a five-yard Murray to Charles Clay touchdown.
Devlin Hodges played loose near the end of the second quarter, getting the Steelers down to the Cardinals 26, but maybe a little too loose as a fumble set the offense backward, luckily recovered by Matt Feiler. Pittsburgh would settle for another Boswell field goal as they left the field for halftime, up 13-10.
Another inept, short offensive display would kickoff the third quarter for the Steelers, while the Cardinals kept knocking on the door but watching it get slammed in their face.
The first of these plays was a Joe Haden interception after a 5:15, nine-play drive was halted by the Steelers Pro Bowl cornerback.
The “Duck” would answer the call this time, leading the offense 73 yards, chewing over six minutes of clock, capped off by a Johnson touchdown toe-tap reminiscent of Santonio Holmes Super Bowl catch against the Cardinals a decade earlier.
This put the Cardinals down 20-10 and in need of a spark from their offense. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, another Murray interception was in the works as they operated in their red zone. T.J. Watt. Watt, who had 12.5 sacks on the season at this point, would add his second interception of 2019.
The Steelers would then attempt to lose the game again, with a Jordan Berry fumble on an ill-fated fake punt attempt. The Cardinals would score, closing the gap to a 20-17 Steelers advantage.
However, Kyler Murray would somehow get rattled again by the Steelers defense – throwing his third pick of the game (another to Joe Haden) after only throwing six interceptions through the season up until this point!
The turnovers cost Arizona in a tight game that would eventually be won by the Steelers with a final score of 23-17.