PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The last game of the 2019 NFL season at Heinz Field is an “L”.
The Steelers lost to the Buffalo Bills Sunday in a game that could have solidified their spot in the postseason. Final score 17-10. Quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges completed 23 for 28 passes and one touchdown.
The statistic that stand out the most however, is that he gave up the ball 4-times by way of interceptions. Hodges had this to say about his performance, “It’s disappointing right now obviously. You hate to lose, but I think after the first loss, how you respond is going to define who I am. Hodges said. “I mean, yeah, I’m disappointed right now, but in a couple days I’m still going to be who I am. I’m still going to be confident, still going to know that I can get the job done.”
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin when asked about his team’s performance, gave more credit to how the Bills executed in all three phases also saying his men will learn from this matchup.
“They are a rough and tumble outfit. We have to tip our caps to those guys and congratulate them, not only on winning the game, but not blinking and making the significant plays in the significant moments. That is something that we pride ourselves in. We didn’t make those plays today.” – Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on the Buffalo Bills
Running back James Conner saw action after returning from a shoulder injury that left him sidelined since week 11. In his eyes, the determining factor to the loss was a result of poor, “…execution and making routine plays.” Conner, rushed for 8 for 42 yards and scored the Steelers’ only touchdown on a reception from Hodges. Despite the score Conner said, “We couldn’t get into a good rhythm where we could be marching up the field and putting up points.”
On a lack-luster showing when attempting to stop Buffalo’s rushing attack, defensive end Cam Heyward — who is usually a dominating force — said about the inability to thwart the Bills’ offensive attack,”Too many times our tackling was very poor in this game. You can’t just bottom down we have to fully wrap and rally,” Heyward said. “They kept the ball moving, got chunk plays and then they hit us for that critical touchdown at the end.”
The Steelers (8-6) will play their last two games of the regular season on the road, starting with the New York Jets (5-9) who are coming off of a loss to the Baltimore Ravens 42-21.
(GSM) — The Steelers gain another victory, this time in the desert!
The Pittsburgh Steelers continue to impress by winning at home — and on road — after leaving Arizona on top of the Cardinals 23-17 on Sunday.
Wide receiver Diontae Johnson had 2 touchdowns one from an 85-yard punt return and the second from a Devlin “Duck” Hodges pass from 3-yards out.
Cornerback Joe Haden had 4 tackles and 2 interceptions on the day and helped give the necessary pressure from the secondary. “This is a great team; a great defense,” Haden said. “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
The Cardinals passing attack, led by rookie QB Kyler Murray, played well enough to give the Steelers a run for their money. Murray threw 20/30, 194 yards and 2 touchdowns. After the game Murray assessed his own performance saying, “If I don’t throw the two interceptions, we probably win that game.”
Linebacker T.J. Watt had an interception of his own in the 4th quarter. Watt says it all about being in the right place at the right time, “We just want to impact the game as much a we can.” Watt says about the defense as a whole, “Everyone is making the most of their opportunities.”
The Steelers will play Sunday night in what could potentially be the last home game of the year when they host the 9-4 Buffalo Bills. Now the Steelers are currently the 6th seed and the Bills are in the 5th slot if the playoffs were to start today. Expect the Bills to come into Heinz Field fired up as they are in a position to move up in the postseason seeding as they sit 1-game behind the New England Patriots who are 10-3 and coming off of a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Responding to a line from the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin says his team’s job is to win, despite shortcomings. “Bloody but unbowed” exemplifies the true definition of grit and determination it takes to be successful.
Tomlin’s best — and most challenging — coaching job is taking place this season due to the unforeseen circumstances with injuries during the 2019 season. The Steelers have, “smiled in the face of adversity” and currently have a 7-5 record to show for their efforts. “Football is our game, but our job is to win,” Tomlin said. “Regardless of circumstance, we have a job to do. We openly talk about that and go to work.”
Starting center Maurkice Pouncey is back following a 2-game suspension which will help the offense as he prepares to re-gain his role as anchor of the offensive line. However, the team hasn’t skipped a beat, winning both games (Bengals and Browns) while he was away. Starting QB Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season and despite the quarterback carousel with Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges, injuries to RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster plus starting defensive end Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers are persevering.
The Steelers head into Arizona to face the Cardinals (3-8-1) who have struggled to stack wins. In his weekly press conference, Coach Tomlin acknowledged the elusiveness of quarterback Kyler Murphy which could be a test for his edge rushers despite their current record, “We’ve got our work cut out for us.” When it comes to the Cardinals’ rookie star Tomlin said, “He’s got some impressive tape under adverse circumstances. He has done an awesome job of preserving and protecting the ball, a really unique thing in a young quarterback.”
No matter the outcome of Sunday’s matchup in the desert, Tomlin deserves the credit for keeping his players and coaching staff on task as December football is where teams separate themselves from the pack, especially when the postseason is well within reach.
CHARLOTTE (GSM) — In the wake of a major shake-up in North Carolina, secondary coach Perry Fewell will carry the team for the rest of the season. The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera after nine seasons at the helm.
2019 is Fewell’s first season with the Panthers and served as secondary coach for Bears, Rams, Redskins, Giants and most recently the Jaguars, stemming back to 1998.
Fewell adds to the list of only 3 black head coaches in the NFL: Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins), Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers) and Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Fewell spoke about his past coaching experience, his on-field coaching style and his goals for the last four games of the season.
As for Rivera, however, he ends his tenure with an overall winning record of 76-63-1 with a poor showing in the postseason at 3-4. “My biggest regret is not winning the Superbowl,” Rivera said at Bank of America Stadium Wednesday. He says he is not done with his career and on if he plans to coach again, “I want to be able to coach people and impact people.”
Panthers owner David Tepper said in a statement, “I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team.” Tepper said about Rivera, “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”