Big Red Recap: Cardinals can’t find end zone in loss to Steelers

Oct 18, 2015, 2:04 PM | Updated: 2:10 pm
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones, left, and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer...

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones, left, and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer, foreground,meet on the field after an NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. The Steelers won 25-12. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Certainly, it was not the homecoming head coach Bruce Arians expected.

Nor the outcome the Arizona Cardinals expected.

Arians and the Cardinals lost 25-13 to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, where Arians had spent eight seasons, including five as offensive coordinator.

With starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger inactive and backup Mike Vick hurt in the second half, the Steelers (4-2) turned to third-string quarterback Landry Jones — and all Jones did was go 8-of-12 for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

The Cardinals (4-2) jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, but never sniffed the end zone again.

During one stretch, the Steelers outscored the Cardinals 15-3 with Chris Boswell kicking three field goals, including a long of 51 yards.

Carson Palmer completed 29-of-45 passes for 421 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted twice, none more costly than in the end zone with the chance to go ahead late in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals had more first downs (21-14) and more total yards (469-310) but again, not more points as they lost for the second time in three weeks.

THE GOOD

– With his 6-yard, first-quarter reception, Larry Fitzgerald has caught at least one pass in 169 straight games, extending his franchise record and keeping alive the longest active streak in the NFL. Interesting, this was Fitzgerald’s first career NFL regular season game at Heinz Field, though in two collegiate seasons at Pittsburgh, he played 13 games at the stadium and recorded 79 receptions for 1,189 yards and 17 touchdowns.

– It took six games but Michael Floyd caught his first touchdown pass of the season, good for three yards and an early 7-0 Cardinals lead with 8:17 left in the first quarter. The throw by Palmer gave him 14 scores, establishing a franchise record for touchdown passes in the season’s first six games. His 13 touchdown passes entering the game were a league-high, tied with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

– Just a dominant first quarter by the Cardinals defense. Led by Deone Bucannon, the Cardinals limited the Steelers to just five total yards on 10 plays. The Steelers went three-and-out, punt and three-and-out on their first three possessions of the game. They gained only one first down. Bucannon had three tackles (two for a loss), first dropping running back Le’Veon Bell five yards and then DeAngelo Williams one yard behind the line of scrimmage.

– In the first half, the Cardinals defense allowed only 59 yards, including one official passing yard. The Steelers were 0-for-6 on third down and had more punts (five) than first downs (four). Vick was 3-of-7 for six yards, Bell carried 10 times for 29 yards, while Antonio Brown caught one pass for minus-two yards.

– With 10 catches for 196 yards, John Brown went over 100 yards receiving for the second time in his young career. His longest reception was for 45 yards and it came on the very first snap of the game. That drive, unfortunately, stalled. Brown’s other 100-yard performance came against Philadelphia (119) last season.

THE BAD

– Perfect no more, Chandler Catanzaro failed to connect on a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter, missing wide left. Entering the game, Catanzaro was 7-for-7. Earlier on that drive, Fitzgerald caught a 44-yard pass, his 12th reception of 20 or more yards this season, the most in the NFL.

– First-half penalties. The Cardinals had six for 75 yards, or 16 more yards than the Steelers gained offensively through the first two quarters. Of the six penalties, four were 15-yarders as the officials flagged Bobby Massie (unnecessary roughness), Markus Golden (helmet-to-helmet hit), Chris Johnson/Jonathan Cooper (chop block) and Kevin Minter (unnecessary roughness). Also, an offsides call on Josh Mauro negated a Patrick Peterson interception and Floyd was flagged for offensive pass interference that wiped out his touchdown catch.

– Capitalizing on a John Brown fumble, the Steelers took their first lead of the game, 12-10 at 8:45 of the third quarter, with Jones throwing an eight-yard touchdown to Martavis Bryant. Jones, in for Vick after he suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the half, recorded his first career NFL touchdown pass on the Steelers’ first converted third down. Credit to James Harrison, who forced the fumble by laying a huge hit on Brown to knock the ball free.

– One week after going 5-for-5 scoring touchdowns inside the red zone, the Cardinals went 1-for-5 with two field goals and a turnover. On the latter, Palmer was targeting John Brown, but Mike Mitchell came up from his free safety position and picked the ball off in the end zone, stopping a potential go-ahead drive.

STAT OF THE GAME

3: The number of Cardinals turnovers, matching a season-high set in Week 4 against St. Louis, which handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season.

HE SAID IT

“Obviously a very disappointing loss,” Bruce Arians said. “Got to quick giving games away if we want to get to where we want to go. Can’t turn it over on the road. We had a chance to put them away early.”

NOTED

– Vick first exited the game and missed one second-quarter snap after taking a Kevin Minter knee to the head as he slid.

– Darren Fells, one catch for nine yards, suffered a left shoulder injury in the second quarter and did not return.

– Cardinals finished with 55 rushing yards on 20 carries, ending a five-game run of gaining at least 110 yards on the ground.

– Tight end Troy Niklas became the 10th different Cardinals player to catch a pass this season with a 13-yard third-quarter reception.

– Among the Cardinals inactives were wide receiver J.J. Nelson and offensive lineman Earl Watford.

UP NEXT

After back-to-back road games, the Cardinals return home.

They host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, Oct. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 with pregame coverage beginning four hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

This marks only the sixth meeting all-time between the two franchises. The Cardinals won the first matchup back in 1997, but they have lost the past four.

The Ravens earned a 30-27 victory in the most recent contest in 2011.

In their history on Monday Night Football, the Cardinals are 7-15-and-1, including 5-8-and-1 at home, where they beat San Diego, 18-17 on Sept. 8, 2014, in their last appearance, snapping a three-game losing streak under the Monday night spotlight.

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