They say a player should never lose his job due to an injury. But after Landry Jones relieved an injured Michael Vick last Sunday and led the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 25-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, that is exactly what has probably taken place.
While Michael Vick was filling in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger, it’s common sense that he was just holding the spot until Big Ben returns. Landry Jones however, will give way to Roethlisberger when his return comes, but unless Mike Tomlin has lost his mind, Jones should NOT lose his backup role to Vick.
Under Vick’s leadership the last two and one half games, the Steelers’ offense has been stagnant. After hurting his hamstring at Heinz Field against Arizona on a running play, in came Landry Jones and the offense began to roll. The difference between the two quarterbacks was clear as night and day.
Landry Jones showed great poise in the pocket, his passes very sharp, and in the third and fourth quarters, Jones connected on eight of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdown passes along with a 93.0 quarterback rating. In almost the same amount of playing time, Michael Vick missed on five of his eight pass attempts and totaled just six yards passing and just did not look as comfortable in the pocket as did Jones.
The fact that when Bruce Gradkowski was ruled out for the season and Landry Jones was not moved to the #2 role, was a slap in the face to the University of Oklahoma star. Instead, the Steelers went out and signed Vick to a contract and as Ben Roethlisberger got hurt, it was thought Vick could keep the Steelers afloat on offense, Not so.
Jones got the opportunity last Sunday to prove to Tomlin and any other doubters that in his three seasons in Pittsburgh he had learned from Big Ben and could do the job when called upon. So, in his first-ever regular season appearance, Jones more than shined. He led the offense like a seasoned veteran and proved he should be the man behind center until Roethlisberger returns.
As the combination of Jones and Martavis Bryant was spectacular, the Steelers defense played outstanding as well, bending often but never breaking, and keeping the high-powered and most prolific scoring team in the NFL from reaching their season average for points scored in a game. The biggest play of the game for the defense came when Mike Mitchell picked off Carson Palmer in the end zone, all but sealing the victory for Pittsburgh.
Despite throwing for 421 yards, Carson Palmer also threw not just that one Mitchell pick, but another as well. Arizona also lost a fumble. Nine penalties on the Cardinals for 111 yards also did not help their case. But the story of the day was easily that of Landry Jones.
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As the Steelers offense struggled again with Vick at the reins, once Jones came in not only did the offensive momentum switch big time, the defense seemed to become more inspired as well. Mike Tomlin would get chased out of Pittsburgh if he was to allow Michael Vick to start again next weekend in Kansas City.
If you want another big story for this game regarding the Steelers, then that would be what Chris Boswell accomplished at Heinz Field. With successful field goals from distances of 47, 48, 51, and 28 yards, Boswell accounted for 12 of the 25 points that Pittsburgh scored, essentially the difference in the game. The surprising fact about Boswell’s efforts were that even from 51 yards, it seemed he made the kick with room to spare, obviously showing his leg strength. If he keeps this up, next summer’s training camp for kicker will be very interesting.
With Landry Jones as the new Steelers starter, hopefully that will get Antonio Brown back into the thick of the offense again as last Sunday he had just three catches for 24 yards. One of those was a beautiful, over the shoulder reception that was perfectly thrown by Landry Jones. On the first touchdown reception to Martavis Bryant, Jones also made a near perfect throw to the end zone.
Then there was Bryant’s second touchdown, a catch and run for 88 yards that saw Bryant make a great move to reach the end zone. On the day, Bryant had six passes for 137 yards in his first game of the season after returning from suspension and missing last Monday night’ game due to an injury.
As Mike Mitchell‘s big interception can’t be ignored, neither can the play of Cam Heyward. The son of “Iron Head” turned in another great performance but more importantly, he seems to be becoming more of a vocal leader on defense which is important for any unit. With Will Allen out, Robert Golden had a solid game.
Ross Cockrell played really good again, James Harrison turned in a solid performance, and it just seems that every player who was on the field on defense was making plays. For punter Jordan Berry, he had one poor kick but still managed to average over 40 for the day including a booming 79 harder.
The hopeful upset of the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals by the Buffalo Bills did not happen, so the Steelers remail two games behind the division leading Bengals as Pittsburgh goes on to play the Chiefs. The Steelers have to be feeling pretty good about themselves and Landry Jones has to be feeling like he is now playing with a chip on his shoulder.
You could see the confidence in him as he was on the field longer and his teammates rallied behind him. To not start him from this point forward until Big Ben returns would be the worst decision by Mike Tomlin during his Steelers career.