ARI-PIT Grades: Bryant ignites Steelers, Jones relieves Vick in victory
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Steelers’ 25-13 win over the Cardinals.
– Based on the grades of QB Carson Palmer (+5.6) and his receivers, you might think the Cardinals won this game handily. Palmer was moving this team up and down the field all game long, despite essentially nothing for a run game. Palmer threw deep often, and of his 421 yards, a ridiculous 296 of them came in the air. He threw 11 passes that traveled more than 20 yards in the air but only completed three of them for 119 yards and an interception. WR John Brown (+1.9) led the team with 196 receiving yards, with only 34 of those coming after the catch.
– CB Patrick Peterson (+2.0) had a fantastic day at corner, shadowing Antonio Brown all over the field and essentially shutting him down. He gave up only two receptions to Brown on five targets, for a mere 26 yards. Only six of those yards came after the catch. Peterson is now averaging 22.2 coverage snaps per reception, which is one of the highest marks in the entire league among corners. QBs throwing at him have a rating of only 45.4.
– The Cardinals’ offensive line struggled in this game, which was one of the biggest reasons for their loss. As a unit, they combined for a pass block grade of -8.3. They didn’t allow a sack, but they did allow three QB hits and 10 QB hurries. LT Jared Veldheer (-4.4) was the main culprit, allowing a hit and three hurries. He also had a -1.6 run block grade, second worst on the team to RG Jonathan Cooper (-3.0) and his -1.7 run block grade. LG Mike Iupati (+1.2) was the lone bright spot for this unit, allowing only one QB hurry and grading positively against the run as well.
QB Carson Palmer (+5.6)
WR Larry Fitzgerald (+3.0)
NT Rodney Gunter (+2.2)
CB Patrick Peterson (+2.0)
WR John Brown (+1.9)
– QB Michael Vick (-0.9) threw only eight passes, but that’s all it took for him to finish with a -2.8 passing grade before he went down with an injury. Vick threw two terrible passes that could have easily been intercepted (one of them was dropped by the defender) and was unable to do anything else. His three completions were all thrown behind the line of scrimmage, for a total of -12 yards in the air. The only reason his grade ended up near average was because of his +1.9 rushing grade, thanks to some excellent scrambles. QB Landry Jones (-0.5) played as well as anyone could have asked, completing safe throws and not forcing anything. His numbers were boosted by an amazing catch-and-run by WR Martavis Bryant (+2.1), but of his 12 passes, all of them were aimed beyond the line of scrimmage.
– The Steelers defense came up big when they needed to, specifically the pass rush duo of DE Cameron Heyward (+2.7) and OLB James Harrison (+4.6). The two combined for a sack, three QB hits and four hurries, and were frequently beating Cardinals’ offensive linemen off the snap. They played well against the run too, contributing to a unit that held the Cardinals to a mere 56 yards on 18 attempts. As a whole, the Steelers defense missed only two tackles all game, on 72 total plays.
– The Cardinals picked out CB Antwon Blake (-3.4) as the man they wanted to pick on in the passing game for this one, and evidently they chose correctly. Blake was targeted 13 times, and allowed nine of those to be caught for 163 yards and a touchdown. Every reception he allowed was for a first down, and on two of the incompletions Blake was beaten and Carson Palmer just missed his receiver. If you take away Blake’s rough game, the rest of the Steelers’ secondary actually didn’t play that poorly, allowing 20 receptions on 31 targets for 258 yards and 0 touchdowns.
OLB James Harrison (+4.6)
DE Cameron Heyward (+2.7)
WR Martavis Bryant (+2.1)
ILB Vince Williams (+2.0)
G David DeCastro (+1.8)