Steelers Hold Off Cardinals 23-17

[Phoenix,Az]The Pittsburgh Steelers continue their winning ways as they beat the Arizona Cardinals 23-17 at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona.

Not only did they improve their record to 8-5, they also secured another non-losing season under head coach Mike Tomlin who continues to do a remarkable job after his team started 0-3 and 1-4 in earlier this season. Not to mention that they lost key players like QB Ben Roethlisberger, DE Stephon Tuitt, RB James Conner and WR Juju Smith-Shuster. When Pittsburgh started 0-3 and 1-4, many wrote this team off, but Tomlin refused to let the team write themselves off and here they are now, 7-1 in their  last  eight games and continuing to hold onto the 6th and final AFC Playoff Spot with 3 games left to play.

Despite the  8-5 Tennessee Titans breathing down their necks, the Steelers knew they needed to beat the Cardinals (3-9-1) and leave little room for error. And they were able to get it done thanks to another strong effort by QB Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges combined with  another stellar effort by the black and gold defense.

In just  his 3rd start, Hodges (the 2019 undrafted rookie) did what was necessary to lead his  his team on 4 scoring drives, resulting in 3 field goals by K Chris Boswell, and a TD pass to rookie WR Dionate Johnson. Johnson also returned a punt 85 yards for their first TD of the game.

Johnson’s TD pass reception from Hodges was a 2-yarder pass. He also improvised on a pass play that looked like it was going for a loss into an 18-yard gain. Number 18  finished the game with 6 receptions for 60 yards and  2 TDs. Meanwhile Hodges finished passing for 162 yards (16-19 passing) a TD and no interceptions.

RB Benny Snell Jr. and Kerrith Whyte both finished with 41 yards rushing today. Snell also had a costly fumble, which the Cardinals were only able to convert into 3 points. Hodges also added 34 yards on the ground.

The defense did their best to make Cardinals rookie QB Kyler Murray miserable and they succeeded as they sacked him 4 times (S Mark Barron, LB Bud Dupree, DE Cameron Heyward, LB Vince Williams and intercepted him 3 times, 2 by CB Joe Haden and 1 by LB TJ Watt. Not only had the defense held the Cardinals to 17 points, they also held them to 73 yards rushing and did not allow Murray any running room as he rushed for only 2 yards on 6 carries.

But Murray also proved why he was the first overall pick in the 2019 Draft as he passed for 2 TDs, one to RB David Johnson and the other to TE Charles Clay, who’s TD tied the game at 10, but that was as close as they got as the Steelers would eventually take the lead the following drive.

For the game, Murray passed for 194 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. The Cardinals also made some key splash plays against the Steelers courtesy of fake punts: The converted one on their own and prevented one from the Steelers as P Jordan Berry tried to sneak for 4 yards, only to get met by 2 Cardinals defenders. A year ago, that botched play may have deflated the Steelers, but this year’s team refused to break.

The Steelers must now prepare for the Bills who fell to the Playoff-bound Baltimore Ravens (11- 2) earlier in the day. They now have 3 games left and are aiming to keep the wins coming so they can have a postseason, something they haven’t had since the 2017 season.

Many thought the injuries and earlier-season would’ve killed the Steelers. Rather, it just made them stronger.

Please e-mail Ray at ray@urbanmediatoday.com

Follow him @urbanmediaRay on twitter

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