But rather than being the start of a trend, that motivation turned out to be a unique process when it came to consistently executing the offense checklist items.
The Steelers would have three more offensive possessions before the end of the first half, and each was disappointing / frustrating in its own way. The first of them was a three-and-out, and the Packers responded with a 13-play, 64-yard drive that included three conversions to third and ended up in the end zone via a 4-yard run from Rodgers who tied the game, 7-7.
The Steelers’ next possession also ended in a three-and-out, but this time Pressley Harvin didn’t even get a chance to enter the field and punt. That’s because Kingsley Keke slapped the ball with Roethlisberger’s right hand for a strip sack, and Kenny Clark recovered for the Packers at the Pittsburgh 23-yard line.
Four games after the turnover, a short pass from Rodgers to Randall Cobb simultaneously converted a third and 10 from the 23-yard line and gave the Packers the lead for good. But at the time, with almost 11 minutes left in the first half, the Steelers still seemed very much on their toes if only they could get back to performing things on their checklist. They did the exact opposite.
From the 25-yard line, Roethlisberger led the offense to three first downs, including one after a hold penalty on Dan Moore who set a first and 20 from the Steelers 29-yard line. After a short pass to Eric Ebron who converted a third and 4, it was time for another shot from the field. JuJu Smith-Schuster was open enough that the only thing standing in the way of a 34-yard touchdown was a precise throw or the receiver making a play. Neither happened, the ball was fell incomplete, and if Chris Boswell’s 52-yard basket was a nice consolation prize, everyone knew the Steelers had missed an opportunity.
“Honestly, it’s a bit of both of us: the receivers and the quarterback,” Roethlisberger said when asked to explain the dud. “For a deep ball to be successful, both parties have to be on the same page. They have to understand the coverage and what’s going on. Ultimately, I’m the one throwing it. I’m the one. who has to get there. I’m the one who has to hit the guys. It doesn’t matter where they are on the pitch, whatever the coverage, it’s up to me to give them the ball. “
There would be one more punch before the end of the first half.
Part of the recipe the Steelers used to secure that Buffalo win was a special teams splash game, and they apparently got it when the Packers lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt at the end. of the first half. Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked the kick, recovered the ball and ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
But Joe Haden, who was lined up outside Fitzpatrick, has been flagged for offside. The CBS replay showed Haden stepped out of his position as the long snapper lifted the ball, and former NFL referee Gene Steratore, also a part of the CBS telecast, tweeted later than on base of the replay, unless Haden is offside, no penalty should have been called.
Instead of a 17-14 halftime lead, the Steelers trailed, 17-10.
The second half brought more of the same – more history but also more disappointment. At one point, Roethlisberger passed a 30-yard pass to James Washington, which saw him pass Marino on the all-time list. But tempering any well-being the game might have engendered, Roethlisberger also missed another on-pitch connection with Smith-Schuster that game analyst Tony Romo said would have resulted in a sure touchdown.