News & Analysis

NFL Week 14 PFF ReFocused: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Arizona Cardinals 17

Devlin Hodges led his team to a 23-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 of the 2019 NFL season.

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Final Score

Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Arizona Cardinals 17

Pittsburgh Steelers

Devlin Hodges continues to make strides on the job with his ability to evade pressure, with his quickness being a considerable advantage. The Pittsburgh coaching staff did an admirable job tailoring the offense to his abilities with quick strikes to the flat, deep shots and a major focus moving the ball on the ground. The simple fact that the Steelers are right in the middle of the playoff race this deep into the season after losing Ben Roethlisberger speaks volumes to their preparation. As for Hodges, he displayed all of his plus traits during a scramble drill late in the fourth quarter when he found Diontae Johnson on a comeback for a 17-yard gain on 3rd & 13 that paved the way for a 25-yard field goal.

Rookie Diontae Johnson and sophomore James Washington have stepped up big this season with Ben Roethlisberger out for the season and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the mend from a knee injury. While the box score doesn’t reflect the extent of his impact, Washington drew key pass interference penalties from Byron Murphy—of 15 and 24 yards, respectively—in the second half. Johnson made moves all over the field, catching a two-yard touchdown and returning a punt 85-yards for another touchdown.

T.J. Watt has had a breakout season, and he was outstanding again today. He scored pressures seemingly at will when rushing the passer, and he also notched an interception in the end zone.

Given Arizona's emphasis on screens and short passes, tackling was critical for the Steelers today. Generally, the defense did an excellent job of getting off blocks in space to bring ball carriers down, and that prevented the Cardinals from being able to turn their short, efficient passes into big chunk plays.

Arizona Cardinals

This was a rough showing for Kyler Murray, especially in the fourth quarter. On a critical fourth down from inside the 10-yard line, he opted to throw a bad interception into the end zone as opposed to run for what appeared to be an easy first down. Even his touchdown pass on the next drive was a poor underthrow that was misplayed in the air by the Pittsburgh safety.

It was also a rough day for the Arizona tackles in pass protection, particularly for right tackle Justin Murray. He surrendered several pressures off the edge and struggled to deal with T.J. Watt throughout the contest.

During this game, there is no question that Chandler Jones appeared to be the best player on the Arizona defense. In addition to a batted pass, Jones played a significant role in run defense, he pressured Devlin Hodges on no less than half a dozen occasions and he zipped around right tackle Matt Feiler for a strip-sack that resulted in a 13-yard loss with the Steelers threatening at the end of the first half.

Penalties played a significant role in preventing the Cardinals from getting ahead. Jordan Hicks was flagged for a targeting penalty on Trey Edmunds after Joe Walker had already brought him down. Byron Murphy was flagged for two pass interference penalties against James Washington — one to give Pittsburgh the ball at the Arizona 16 and the other moving the Steelers from their own 20 to the Arizona 47.

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