PITTSBURGH (AP) Le’Veon Bell wondered. Martavis Bryant wondered. Heck, even Landry Jones kind of wondered how he’d do after spending the entirety of his two-plus seasons in the NFL either holding a clipboard or dressed in sweats on gameday.
Then all that time spent in meetings trying to absorb everything he could from Ben Roethlisberger started to pay off. Replacing injured Michael Vick in the third quarter against Arizona on Sunday, Jones did his best to mimic his mentor. He relaxed. He called out the signals. And he played.
The first touchdown pass of Jones’ NFL career gave the Steelers confidence. The second provided the clincher in a 25-13 victory.
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”He was like Ben’s little brother out there,” Bell said. ”He was out there making checks and everything and it brought us back like `Dang, Landry really got this.”
Did he ever.
Jones completed 8 of 12 passes for 168 yards and the two scores – both to Martavis Bryant – as Pittsburgh (4-2) scored rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit. The Steelers improved to 2-1 without Roethlisberger, who missed his third straight game with a sprained left knee. Roethlisberger will practice this week before Pittsburgh heads to Kansas City, though Jones’ surprisingly steady play showed the Steelers can be dynamic even with their captain on the sideline.
”I just still can’t believe I got in the game and to play,” Jones said. ”I’m still reeling from it.”
Hard to blame he. He was a star in college at Oklahoma, where he didn’t miss a game in four years. The Steelers took him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft but he did little with the opportunity, scuffling during training camp and the preseason and unable to supplant Bruce Gradkowski or Vick as the primary backup to Roethlisberger.
Funny, he looked right at home after stepping in for Vick, who was ineffective before pulling up at the end of a scramble in the third quarter. Jones threw high to Bryant in the back of the end zone to give the Steelers the lead and he later found Bryant for an 88-yard catch-and-run.
”I’m just so thankful they gave me a shot,” Jones said. ”They just didn’t hand the ball left and right off the bat. They let me get out there and throw.”
Jones can make plays in the NFL. Some other things to take from Pittsburgh’s second win in six days.
NOT SO HAPPY HOMECOMING: Arizona coach Bruce Arians was let go as Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator after the 2011 season in a move he jokingly called a ”refirement.” Back at Heinz Field for the first time as a head coach, Arians’ team looked like one of the NFL’s best during long stretches but struggled to finish drives. The Cardinals (4-2) turned it over three times, including two in the second half that lead to Pittsburgh touchdowns.
CAM CAN: Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward wore eye black with ”Ironhead” written on them to honor his late father Craig ”Ironhead” Heyward, who played 11 seasons in the NFL but passed away in 2006 after a long fight with cancer. Heyward was fined $5,787 by the league last week for the tribute. He expects to receive another one but considers it money well spent. ”I don’t want to ruffle any feathers but this is bigger than all we play for,” Heyward said. ”There are people fighting for (their) lives.”
BIG DAYS BUT … : Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer threw for 421 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. John Brown caught 10 passes for 196 yards but also fumbled in the third quarter to set up a Pittsburgh touchdown. Arizona came in as the NFL’s highest scoring team but found the end zone just once on four red zone possessions.
INJURIES: The Steelers lost left tackle Kelvin Beachum for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee. Beachum was replaced by Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who caught on with the Steelers as a practice squad player last year. Arizona tight end Darren Fells left with a shoulder injury and did not return.
NEXT UP: Pittsburgh faces the struggling Chiefs (1-5), though it’s unclear who will be at quarterback. Roethlisberger was limited in practice last week and Vick’s status is uncertain. ”I want complete clarity, but I don’t always get what I want,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. … The Cardinals host Baltimore.
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