Steelers - without Roethlisberger - surprised the world by going 7 & 5 & most recently upsetting Cleveland Browns (glamor boys of the NFL going into the season) 20 - 13. Cardinals had dropped five straight games and most recently played what can only be described as "last- place football" vs, Rams to arrive at an unglamorous 3 - 8 - 1.
Cards Fall to Steelers 23 - 17
The Bottom Line:
At least the Cards made it close. After falling behind 10 - 0 in the 1Q, the Cards managed to take a 20 - 17 deficit well into the 4Q, but were unable to close the gap within the final 6:44.
The USA Today writer got it right; when asking: "If the Cardinals like to brag about "The Red Sea", why were they mainly wearing black & yellow, Sunday?" The Steeler Nation evidently "travels well" - not only did they fill the stands with yellow and black-garbed rooters; "they brought signs" (Oh yeah, they brought signs).
What was supposed to be a Cardinal home game had all the flavor of an away game vs. the Raiders. including crowd noise from the Steeler faithful... (Note to Roger Goodell - Don't do us any favors by scheduling home games vs. midwestern teams for the weeks before Christmas. It fills the majority of seats with "snow birds" from Minnesota, Green Bay, Cleveland, Cincy and, of course, Pittsburgh.
And, of course, you can't lay the blame on the League schedulers. Any Cardinal season-ticket holder who sells seats to opposing fans has to shoulder some of the responsibility. And, also of course - if the Cards were playing good football you wouldn't find available seats any place/anywhere.
Steelers played a "close to the vest" game, running the ball 35 times (to Arizona's 22) with their QB (Hodges) completing 16 of 19 throws for 135 yds. In doing so, they were somehow able to frequently "cut the legs off" Kyler Murray ( who gained 2 yards on 6 rushing attempts & was sacked 5 times).
Margin of victory actually turned out to come from Diontae Johnson's 85 yd TD return. There are your keys to the game - (1) the 85 yd punt return and (2) issues running the football.
Most Cardinal players played hard for 60 minutes but not 100% of the Cardinal players. Is this due to lack of effort by our guyss? Or the inability of our coaches to motivate players? (Probably a little of both).
I just don't get the feeling that 100% of the players are fighting 100% of the time to make plays 100% of the time.
Like both Niner games, this one was winnable. But the Steelers won the "physical" battle and made fewer mistakes.