PITTSBURGH – Mike Tomlin didn't need any fancy cliches to describe the Pittsburgh Steelers' improbable 25-13 win over the previously high-flying Arizona Cardinals.
The obvious worked just fine.
"We needed contributions from everyone," Tomlin said.
Just to break it down: The Steelers beat the NFL's highest-scoring team with their No. 4 quarterback, No. 4 kicker, a first-time left tackle, a rookie sixth-round defensive tackle and a wide receiver who missed the first five weeks of the season. They won without first-round picks Ryan Shazier, Jarvis Jones, Maurkice Pouncey and Ben Roethlisberger.
As the man said, the Steelers needed contributions from everyone.
"This team is unbelievable," said Landry Jones. "I've never seen anything like it, just the resiliency of the guys. It's just like 'Next man up' and whoever's next goes out there and plays hard and plays the way they're capable of. Today we kind of showed the world what kind of team we are."
An array of unlikely heroes rallied the Steelers from a 10-3 halftime deficit, and Unlikely Hero No. 1 was Jones, who replaced Mike Vick after Vick injured his hamstring on the first series of the second half.
James Harrison had forced a fumble in Steelers territory and Le'Veon Bell ripped off a 22-yard run to put Jones in position to throw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant, Unlikely Hero No. 2.
"A little rusty," Bryant said of his first action of the season, "but I'm getting back into the swing of things."
Bryant went way up to snare the pass from Jones and held on as he landed butt first just inside the end zone. The touchdown (and intercepted conversion) gave the Steelers a 12-10 lead.
They got the ball back and Jones hit Bryant over the middle for a 23-yard gain to set the stage for Unlikely Hero No. 3, first-year kicker Chris Boswell.
In his first game at Heinz Field, Boswell stepped in and drilled a 51-yarder to give the Steelers a 15-10 lead late in the third quarter. The kick was the longest in a game of long field goals for Boswell (47, 48, 51, 28), who neither cares nor knows his exact range.
"I don't pay attention to where I'm at on the field," he said. "I just go out there and find a target and try to hit it."
And if the coach asks if he can make a particular kick?
"I'm going to say ‘yes’ every time, no matter what," Boswell said.
Arizona cut the lead to 15-13 on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Jones took the Steelers down the field again. Antonio Brown caught a 23-yarder and Bell carried six times to set up Boswell's fourth field goal in four attempts and an 18-13 Steelers lead.
The explosive Cardinals came back behind quarterback Carson Palmer. He drove them to the Pittsburgh 20, but on first down it was time for Unlikely Hero No. 4, safety Mike Mitchell.
Considered by some to be a mistake in free agency after last season's disappointing performance, Mitchell capped an outstanding start to this season by reading a play he remembered from film study.
"They want to influence the safety in the post with the over route and they're going to bend it out and hit (number) 12," Mitchell said of receiver John Brown. "When I saw him come in I was like 'there's the over.' And I was able to kind of weave with it. He thought I was going to take the over and it was kind of my instinct and I just trusted it. God is good."
It was Mitchell's first interception with the Steelers.
"Man, it was huge," he said. "Glad to get that monkey off my back."
The Steelers still had to run 2:15 off the clock but the Cardinals, down five, had three timeouts and the two-minute warning. However, the Steelers didn’t “turtle up,” not even with their novice quarterback. After one run, Jones threw a short slant to Bryant that Jones figured would be good for a first down.
But Bryant kept running.
Bryant went 88 yards for a touchdown that clinched the win. He finished with six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Jones was eight for 12 for 168 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 149.3.
Not too bad for a team that had 1 passing yard and 0 Unlikely Heroes at halftime.
"We don't have everybody that we need to have," said Mitchell, "but we have a really tight-knit group with a next-man-up mentality, so I'm really proud of the guys. It was a great team win."