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Cheat Sheet: Steelers vs. Cardinals


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The Steelers host the Arizona Cardinals at Acrisure Stadium.
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This series began in 1933 with the Pittsburgh Pirates edging the Chicago Cardinals 14-13. Those versions of these franchises met five times before Pittsburgh changed its name to the Steelers. The Chicago Cardinals became the St. Louis Cardinals in 1960. In 1988, the Steelers took on the Phoenix Cardinals. Since that Cardinals win, it has been the Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals. Pittsburgh leads this series 35-23-3, including a victory in Super Bowl XLIII. Pittsburgh has a four-game winning streak in the series and has won six of the last seven. Mike Tomlin is 4-1 against Arizona. The Cardinals haven't won in Pittsburgh since 1969.


  • The Cardinals are 0-6 this season on the road, having lost those games by a combined 80 points. The Steelers are minus-23 in point differential for the season and are 4-2 at home. Pittsburgh has won three of its last four and five of its last seven. Arizona is on a two-game losing streak and has been outscored by 115 points in 2023. Only Carolina and the Giants are worse in points differential. The average outcome of an Arizona game is a Cardinals loss by 9.6 points.
  • Opponents have scored 16 more touchdowns than Arizona and the Cardinals, on average, allow 42.6 more passing yards than they produce. Arizona's opponents have run 49 more plays than the Cardinals this season.
  • The Steelers outrushed Cincinnati last week 153-25 and had 199 more total yards. Pittsburgh was outgained by 875 yards in Weeks 1-11.
  • Pittsburgh and San Francisco are tops in the NFL with a plus-11 turnover differential. Arizona is at minus-1. The Steelers have 20 takeaways compared to 14 by Arizona. The Steelers and Bengals are tied with a league-low nine giveaways. Arizona has turned it over 15 times. Only three teams have lost fewer fumbles than Pittsburgh. The Steelers are turning the ball over a league-low 6.4% of their offensive drives.
  • Both these teams are near the bottom of the league in time of possession, the Steelers at 28:30 and Arizona at 27:46. However, over the past three games, Pittsburgh is at 32:07 and the Cardinals at 27:23. Pittsburgh possessed the ball for 37:17 in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh ran 27 more plays than the Bengals. The Steelers also produced 22 first downs compared to 10 for the Bengals. The Cardinals held the ball for just 25:08 last week.
  • The Steelers and Cardinals offense rank 23rd and 24th, respectively, on third down conversions this season. But the Steelers defense is 14th while Arizona's is dead last, allowing 47% third down attempts to convert. And over the past three weeks, Arizona allows a conversion 56.4% of the time compared to 32.6% by the Steelers defense.
  • Pittsburgh games are averaging a league-low 32.8 combined points per game.
  • The Steelers are 5-0 this season when scoring first. Arizona is 0-6 this season when the opponent scores first. Only the Commanders and Jaguars give up more second half points per game (13.3) than Arizona. And over the past three games, the Cardinals are last (18.7) in points allowed in the first half of games.
  • Pittsburgh is 5-0 this season against teams with a losing record. They are just one of six teams with that are undefeated against such opponents.
  • When the Steelers pass for 200-plus yards this season, they are 5-0.


  • Pittsburgh averages 4.9 yards per play, but over the past three games the Steelers are up to 5.4. The Cardinals defense allows 5.5, but 5.7 over their last three games. Arizona surrendered 6.9 yards per play last week and 457 yards of total offense to the Rams.
  • The Steelers are 28th in points per game, but Arizona's defense is 31st.
  • In terms of EPA per play, Washington is the only defense worse than the Cardinals in 2023 and Arizona is dead last in success rate, as well.
  • The Steelers pass the football on 56.2% of their plays, which is higher than just nine teams. But over the past three weeks, they are throwing it just 48.7% of their offensive snaps. Only three teams pass the ball a lower percent of the time over the past three weeks. Last week, Kenny Pickett attempted 33 passes and the Steelers ran the ball 33 times. Only the Jets and Panthers are seeing a higher percentage of run plays than Arizona. The Steelers also have a dropback rate of 38.1% when leading in the second half of games this year. Only two offenses are lower in such circumstances. 
  • The Cardinals defense is first in the league in seeing 22 Personnel (2 RB/2 TE) at 4.3% and third in their seeing of 20 Personnel (2 RB/0 TE) at 1.9%. 17.6% of their defensive snaps have faced two backs on the field together. Arizona's defense has been in their base defense with four defensive backs on the field for 30% of their snaps. Only two defenses are higher.
  • Only the Vikings and Bears allow a higher completion percentage than Arizona's defense and the Cardinals 5.7% passing touchdown rate is 31st.
  • Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes against the Cardinals last week.
  • Pickett hasn't thrown an interception in his last 208 passing attempts. That is seven-straight games. Both are Steelers team records. His 278 passing yards last week are the second-most of Pickett's career and the most in a game in which he didn't turn the ball over.
  • Last week, 24.2% of Pickett's passes were 15-plus air yards downfield, which is his second-highest this season. Of Pickett's passes last week, 39.3% were between the numbers, his highest rate this season. Pickett had nine completions between the numbers last week. He had a total of 12 such completions from Weeks 4-11.
  • George Pickens' target rate has stayed between 15-18% over the past four games and has six or fewer targets in five-straight games. Of all pass catchers in the league with at least 50 targets, Pickens' 13.4 average depth of target is the 10th highest. Over his past five games, Pickens has just 13 catches for 162 yards and hasn't had more than six targets in any of those contests.
  • Diontae Johnson has received eight or more targets in four of his last five games. But in his past three games, Johnson has caught just seven balls for 83 yards.
  • Calvin Austin has just six targets over his past six games and just 27 receiving yards.
  • 49.3% of the targets against Arizona this year have gone to receivers aligned on the outside. That is the highest percentage in the NFL. Pickens (86.1%) and Johnson (80.5%) are second and 10th, respectively, in percentage of their routes aligned from the outside in the league.
  • Arizona is allowing opposing wide receivers to catch a league-high 71.5% of their targets with 9.2 yards allowed per target to the position, which is 30th. The Cardinals have also allowed wide receivers to catch a league-high 55.6% of their passes 20-plus yards downfield.
  • After getting 13 all season long before last week, Pat Freiermuth was targeted 11 times in Week 12. He caught 9 passes for 120 yards in Cincinnati, which was the first time a Steelers tight end eclipsed 100 receiving yards since Vance McDonald in 2018. Freiermuth's previous high was 85 receiving yards. Freiermuth was targeted on 44% of his routes against the Bengals compared to 7.7% the week before. He received one-third of the Steelers total targets against Cincinnati. Freiermuth averaged a whopping 4.8 yards per route run last week, the highest of any tight that that received 10-plus receiving snaps in Week 12. Arizona is giving up the fourth-fewest receptions per game (3.8) but the sixth-most receiving touchdowns (.4) per game to tight ends, including five receiving touchdowns to the position in the past five games.
  • The Steelers have attempted 61 play-action passes this season. Nine of those came on Sunday in Cincinnati.
  • The Cardinals don't have anyone with more than five sacks this season, but 13 different Arizona defenders have recorded a sack in 2023. BJ Ojulari is tied for second among rookies with four sacks. The Cardinals' 2.7 sacks per game is right around league average. But their pressure rate of 29.5% is the second-lowest amongst all defenses, and the Cardinals defense is blitzing at the lowest rate in the league at 15.1%.
  • The Cardinals defense faces an average time to throw of 2.48 seconds, the sixth-highest in the league.
  • Pittsburgh has rushed for 153 yards or more in four-straight games. Over that four-game stretch, the Steelers average 174 yards on the ground. The Rams rushed for 228 yards in Arizona last week, 226 of those from running backs. Arizona now gives up an average of 151.4 rushing yards per game to the running back position, second worst in the league. Over the past three games, the Steelers came one yard short (Harris ended up with 99 yards last week) of having three-consecutive individual 100-yard rushing games. Jaylen Warren did receive his largest share of designed carries last week of the season at 46.4%.
  • Of all running backs with at least 50 carries, Warren's 5.83 yards per carry not only is first, but well ahead of Kyren Williams who is next on the list at 5.3. His explosive run rate of 8.6% is only behind Tyjae Spears. Harris fourth in this metric at 7.7%. Warren is fifth in the NFL with 18 runs of 10-plus yards despite being 38th in carries. The Steelers are now second in the league behind only Denver in explosive run rate. Warren is also first in yards after contact per attempt and Harris is 17th. Harris has 75-plus scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown in three of his past four games. Warren has 110-plus scrimmage yards in three of his past four games.
  • The Cardinals give up a league-high 2.45 points per drive.


  • The Cardinals average 4.9 yards per play, but over their last three games they are averaging 5.3. The Steelers surrender 5.4, but just 4.9 over their past three.
  • The Cardinals offense converts a series of downs into a new series of downs 69% of the time. League average is 70%. The Steelers defense is at 69%. Only six defenses are better.
  • The Steelers and 49ers are the only two defenses currently in the top five in takeaways as well as points allowed.
  • Arizona is averaging a league-low .92 points per drive on the road this season.
  • The Cardinals have run a higher percentage of 13 Personnel (1 RB/3 TE) than any offense in the NFL at 11.2%. No defense in the league has faced 21 Personnel (2 RB/1 TE) a higher percentage of their snaps (14.1%) than the Steelers, who are also 27th in the league (56.1%) in seeing 11 Personnel (1 RB/1 TE). The Cardinals offense has zero snaps this year with two backs on the field together. Pittsburgh has utilized its nickel package with five defensive backs on the field just 37.7% of its snaps. Just one defense uses nickel less.
  • Over their past seven games, the Steelers are allowing just 15 points per game. During that stretch they've allowed a league-low 12% of their drives to result in a touchdown. The Steelers have allowed a league-low five passing touchdowns over their past seven games.
  • Arizona throws the ball 58.3% of its offensive plays, which is very close to league average. But over their past three games with Kyler Murray at quarterback that goes up to 63.7%, which would be near the top of the league.
  • Only the Browns, Cowboys and Ravens have a better completion percentage allowed than Pittsburgh's defense. But only three defenses have a higher average depth of target than the Steelers.
  • Murray is 13 of 38 (34.2%) on passes 10-plus yards downfield with one touchdown and two interceptions. That is the lowest completion percentage in the NFL over that time on such throws.
  • As a team, only four offenses have a lower yards per route run than Arizona.
  • In the past three games, Joey Porter Jr. covered DeAndre Hopkins and Amari Cooper on a combined 50 of 77 of their routes, including 53 of 58 on the perimeter and seven of 19 from the slot. Hopkins produced a stat line of 1 catch for 17 yards on his five targets when covered by Porter. Cooper was four for 34 on his four targets against Porter. Against Ja'Marr Chase last week, Porter lined up opposite him 24 of 28 snaps with Chase catching two passes for 36 yards in those situations.
  • Marquise Brown's 27.9% target per route rate last week was his highest since Week 6. But in his first two games with Murray, Brown was targeted just five times, catching three of them for 46 yards.
  • With rookie wide receiver Michael Wilson out of the lineup the past two weeks, Greg Dortch has run a route of 81% of dropbacks, posting a 23% target share, and averaging 8.5 targets per game.
  • Second-year tight end Trey McBride became a full-time starter in Week 8 and since then he averages 6.6 receptions and 70.2 receiving yards per game. He now has 25 targets from Murray in those three games and at least seven in each game with Murray. Last week, only Brown was on the field for a higher percentage of Arizona's passing plays (84%) among their skill position players. However, in Murray's first game back, McBride received a 28.1% target share. That number then dropped to 23.3% and then to 20% last week with Murray at quarterback. McBride ranks second in targets per route run (25%) and third in yards per route run (2.07) among all tight ends.
  • The Steelers are third-best in the NFL, allowing 6.1 yards per target to opposing tight ends.
  • 15.5% of the Cardinals targets have gone to a player that aligns inline. Only the Vikings and Browns are higher.
  • TJ Watt had another two sacks last week and the Steelers got to Jake Browning four times in that game. Watt joined Reggie White as the only two defenders with 90-plus sacks in their first 100 NFL games since 1982 when sacks were first tracked. Last week was Watt's fourth game of the 2023 season with 2-plus sacks. One more such game will tie Watt with his brother, JJ Watt, for the fifth-most games ever with 2-plus sacks in a player's first seven seasons. Watt aims for his fifth game in a row with a sack and eighth in a row at home.
  • The Rams held James Conner to just 27 yards on the ground last week and Arizona as a team rushed for just 73 with only two rushing yards from Murray. Conner handled 43% of the rushing attempts last week. Conner's 5.06 yards per carry ranks sixth of all running backs with at least 50 attempts. Conner's 5.8% explosive run rate is behind just eight other runners. Conner is also seventh in yards after contact per attempt.
  • In his first game since being claimed off waivers from the Jets, Michael Carter played 27 snaps compared to 30 from Conner. Carter's 19 routes led the Cardinals backfield.
  • Joe Mixon ran for just 18 yards last week on his eight carries against the Steelers, his lowest rushing output since 2019, and the Steelers surrendered just 25 rushing yards in Cincinnati, the fewest rushing yards for any team in 2023. The Steelers have not allowed a running back to rush for 80-plus yards since Week 4.
  • Since Cameron Heyward returned from injured reserve in Week 9, the Steelers give up just 85.5 rushing yards per game. Pittsburgh gave up 137.1 rushing yards per game from Week 1 to 8.
  • Murray has a rushing touchdown in every game since his return. He has 18 career games with both a rushing and passing touchdown, tied for third-most for a quarterback in his first five seasons in NFL history. He is averaging 4.7 carries per game this season.
  • The Cardinals rush for 4.79 yards per carry, third-best in the league and have the seventh-best explosive run rate.
  • Arizona's offense is last in the league on fourth-down conversions.
  • Over the past four games, the Steelers are giving up 3.75 points in the second half of games. For the season they are at 7.0. Only the 49ers are better. The Cardinals are dead last (6.0) in points produced in the first halves of games this year.


  • The Cardinals have attempted 22 field goals this season. Their opponents have attempted 23. Arizona and their opponents have each made 19 field goals.


Feb. 1, 2009: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23, Raymond James Stadium Tampa, Florida, Super Bowl XLIII

This was one for the ages and one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. Larry Fitzgerald was an unstoppable force in the NFC playoffs and remained a game changer for the Cardinals, finishing the day with seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. His quarterback, Kurt Warner, threw for 377 yards. But two of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history were made by the Steelers in this game. The first, of course, was James Harrison's Super Bowl-record 100-yard interception return to close out the first half giving the Steelers a 17-7 lead going into the locker room. Not to be outdone, with 35 seconds left in the game, Ben Roethlisberger hit Santonio Holmes for a touchdown on a spectacular thrown and catch to seal the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl title.


Cardinals RB James Conner vs. Steelers LB Elandon Roberts - As Steelers fans know, these are two bangers that are sure to meet time and time again on Sunday. Pittsburgh's interior defensive line has a nice advantage over the Cardinals guards and center, which should go a long way to keeping Roberts clean in the run game, but Conner can also present problems out of the backfield. This is Conner's first game against the Steelers.

Steelers Offensive Tackles vs. Cardinals EDGE Dennis Gardeck - Few know what Gardeck brings to the table, but he is a real up-and-coming edge pass rusher. Arizona will use him on either side, often from a two-point stance. Gardeck isn't even a full-time player, usually playing around 30 snaps a game particularly in obvious pass-rushing situations, but he is dangerous coming off the edge.