Sunday Night Thriller

By: Jared Villani

Pittsburgh picked up right where they left off with a red hot offensive attack on the Green Bay Packers, moving the chains downfield with ease. Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown for a nice gain early and proceeded to add to his solid start with completions to Martavis Bryant, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers. Le’Veon Bell sliced defenders and helped put the Steelers into nice field position. It was ultimately Xavier Grimble who got the score for Pittsburgh, as he caught his only reception of the game on a one-yard shovel pass by Big Ben. Unfortunately, Chris Boswell could not knock down the extra point, forcing Pittsburgh to settle for an early 6 to nothing lead over Green Bay. As the Steelers’ defensive unit took the field, it was Mike Hilton and Vinny Williams making some very nice plays early in the game reminding us of their performances from last Thursday. Unfortunately, they couldn’t it all on this drive. Green Bay’s quarterback Brett Hundley showed some flashes that his mentor Aaron Rodgers would most definitely be proud of. He found wide receiver Randall Cobb wide open downfield due to blown coverage by Artie Burns not picking up Cobb on the play. Unfortunately, this was not Burns only mistake on the drive as Pittsburgh should have forced a punt, but he got called for illegal hands to the face, therefore giving Green Bay another chance to score. A Stephon Tuitt sack and forced fumble was negated due to the penalty. Green Bay took advantage, now leading the Steelers 7 to 6. The next offensive drive for Pittsburgh looked to be going well, adding onto the attack from their previous drive. Ben looked for Jesse James often on this drive, connecting with him twice, but it was a pass intended for Eli Rogers that turned the tides. Green Bay’s cornerback Damarious Randall made a nice play to intercept Ben, and this turnover would come back to haunt Pittsburgh. Packers running back Jamaal Williams turned a short pass from Hundley into a huge 54-yard touchdown for the Packers to give Green Bay a 14 to 6 lead over Pittsburgh after the first. The Steelers go into the second hoping to recover from the dropped passes they had in this quarter and come back to even the score.

Pittsburgh’s first drive of the second quarter was led by Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Big Ben found himself scrambling on 3rd and 5, but would come up just short, ultimately resulting in a Jordan Berry punt. Pittsburgh’s defense looked to return the favor as Green Bay’s offense couldn’t get anything going, and it was Artie Burns who would come in to redeem himself and put a nice stop to wide receiver Jordy Nelson forcing the Packers to punt. Steeler’s offense took over and it was a huge 39-yard connection from Big Ben to AB that set up a very nice 17-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant. He’s back! Pittsburgh would then make up Boswell’s missed extra point attempt as Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown on a slant route for two points to tie the game at 14 to 14. The defense came back on the field putting yet another stop to a surprisingly hot Green Bay offense as Ryan Shazier constantly found ways to put pressure on the ball, further reinforcing why his name is on the list amongst the leagues’ best linebackers. Steelers would take over on offense and it was the Le’Veon Bell show as he looked sharp catching passes and running the ball with ease. The half would end notably on a questionable no-call in which Packers cornerback Davon House appeared to hold Antonio Brown back just enough to miss a pass from Big Ben. With all the back and forth play, we still have a tie game, 14 to 14.

The second half of this matchup would start very similarly to how last week’s matchup to Tennessee did. Jamaal Williams slashed Pittsburgh on the ground game with back-to-back runs of 9 and 33 yards, to set up a connection between Hundley and wide receiver Davante Adams on a 55-yard score giving Green Bay a lead of 21 to 14. Le’Veon Bell and the Steelers offense looked to even the score as Bell ran the ball brilliantly. Ben added a couple of nice passes to Martavis Bryant before a short check-down intended for Bell would be tipped by linebacker Ahmad Brooks and right into the hands of fellow linebacker Blake Martinez. Green Bay clearly performing stronger than expectations, would once again attack Pittsburgh on the ground. Jamaal Williams continued to run the ball efficiently. Thankfully, there were some flashes of solid defense on this drive as L.T. Walton put up the first sack of the game, pushing Hundley back for a 5-yard loss. T.J. Watt joined in as he made a nice play of his own to break up a pass intended for Jordy Nelson. Pittsburgh would then add another sack to their total as Cameron Heyward would get Hundley again, forcing Green Bay to settle for a Mason Crosby field goal attempt and to say he missed would be an understatement. Crosby yanks the ball wide left from 57 yards out and the Steelers would take over on offense with great field position. Pittsburgh would once again use Le’Veon Bell to do most of the damage both on the ground and aerial attack. It was Antonio Brown who got his shot to hit pay dirt, as he would reel in a perfect pass on a fade route, giving Big Ben his third touchdown toss of the game and Brown’s first. Next up, Cameron Heyward and the defense would take over, and he didn’t skip a beat as he sacked Hundley again to finish the quarter and leave us with 21 to 21 tie going into the final quarter.

As the fourth quarter begins, the Packers are forced to punt after the Heyward sack. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh would squander another opportunity as Le’Veon Bell was running the ball nicely until defensive end Mike Daniels forced Bell to cough up the ball, and Blake Martinez would recover. This was only Bell’s second fumble on the season and the sixth of his career. Ryan Shazier would shine again for Pittsburgh as he made a great play to break down a dangerous pass from Hundley to tight end Richard Rodgers. Green Bay was not able to get anything going against the stout defense forcing them to punt. On the first play of the drive, Mike Daniels continues to build on a nice game, now getting to Big Ben for a sack. Roethlisberger got right back up and fed both Bell and Eli Rogers for a couple of nice gains. Bell continued to torment the Packers defense as he shredded his way down field leading to another AB touchdown, this time from 33-yards. Julio Jones, who?! Boswell knocks in the extra point to give Pittsburgh a lead of 28 to 21. It didn’t take Brett Hundley and the Packers long to respond as he threw the ball sharply and converted on a 4th and 6 in Steelers territory. The Packers nice offensive attack would set Jamaal Williams up for his second score of the day, this time in the form of a 4-yard rushing touchdown. Crosby hits the extra point, giving us a tie-game…again. Ryan Shazier looked to be shaken up on this drive, limping and needing some assistance off the field as Tyler Matakevich came in to replace him for a couple plays. Pittsburgh looked to score and not let the Packers get another chance on offense. After some much-needed completions down field it was a pass intended for Eli Rogers (broken up by Damarious Randall) that would force the Steelers to punt on 4th and 10. On the defensive end of the ball, T.J. Watt impressed on a heads-up play in which he left coverage, to sack Hundley for a 6-yard loss. The defense was fortunate enough to get Shazier back on the field, as he made two great plays back-to-back stifling Jamaal Williams and forcing Green Bay to surrender the ball yet again. Big Ben and the other the Killer B’s took over on offense, they looked to get the ball down field quickly as the clock was winding down. Right out of the gate, Ben connects with AB on an unbelievable play. Brown caught the ball right over a pair of defenders, getting one foot down and dragging the other in bounds for a 23-yard gain. With less than 20 seconds left in regulation, Ben found Brown yet again this time for 14 yards, making things a bit easier for Boswell. Four seconds remained on the clock, and it was now Chris Boswell time! Missing the extra point on the first drive of the game for Pittsburgh, he looked to redeem himself and he absolutely did. Boswell nails a 53-yard field goal to give Pittsburgh a 31 to 28 victory over the underestimated Green Bay Packers. Another great win for Pittsburgh, final score 31 to 28.

It was yet another attack of the Killer B’s as the game leaders for Pittsburgh in this matchup were Ben Roethlisberger completing 33 of 45 passes for 351 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Le’Veon Bell lead the ground game as he carried the rock 20 times for 95 yards and added 12 receptions for 88 yards, but fumble once. He continues to lead the league in rushing now with 981 yards. Antonio Brown lead the game in receiving as he hauled in 10 receptions for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns to once again reclaim his league leading reception total, now with 80. On the defensive side of the ball it was Ryan Shazier leading the team with 8 tackles. Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt also contributed great plays as Heyward added 6 tackles and 2 sacks to his season total, and Watt with 4 tackles and 1 sack.

The Steelers are absolutely rolling, making this their sixth straight win and giving them a record of 8 and 2. The Steelers hold home field advantage over the New England Patriots as the season stands right now and their next two matchups are going to be must wins as they take on the division rival Cincinnati Bengals in Cincy and the New England Patriots at home. Look for Pittsburgh to build off their impressive run next Monday night in an always entertaining and a presumably very physical matchup with the Bengals.

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