PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers dropped several passes, but they didn't drop the ball.
No, the Steelers overcame a handful of big mistakes and still hammered the New York Jets, 31-13, Sunday at Heinz Field.
Of course, Coates put some on the board, too. His 72-yard touchdown catch from Ben Roethlisberger on the first series, a third-and-7 play in which Coates beat Darrelle Revis' fill-in Marcus Williams, set Coates up for a monster day.
But that day soon turned frightening.
"Yeah, I got excited," Coates said after a second consecutive start to a game with a long reception. "Sometimes excitement can be bad. Sometimes you get too excited. It happens, and I'll learn from it and grow."
The Jets had a couple of surprising drops before Coates went on his bad run that reached five drops: Brandon Marshall dropped a third-down throw on the next series, and on defense 315-pounder Muhammad Williams dropped into coverage as an edge rusher.
That was quite the drop, and the kind of strategy that allowed right tackle Chris Hubbard to find his legs in his first career start.
"Hub did a damn good job today," said Steelers guard Ramon Foster. "I'm glad to say that he's a part of our O-line. I won't take anything away from those guys, because I still think they're the best defensive line in the league, but Hub was fully prepared."
Hubbard allowed nary a pressure, let alone anyone to "drop" Roethlisberger from his side of the line.
But Coates began his descent on his Sunday roller coaster with a third-and-2 drop from Roethlisberger at the New York 10-yard line. That was followed by an ill-fated fake 46-yard field goal attempt in which holder Jordan Berry tear around right end was dropped for a 3-yard loss.
The Jets followed with a go-ahead touchdown pass on a 15-yard pass that Cockrell thought was a certain interception.
"That touchdown was a drop," said Cockrell, who appeared to be in perfect position to intercept the ball at the goal line. But the ball hit both of his hands, popped into the air and Marshall snared it for a 13-6 Jets lead.
What did Cockrell say to himself after the play?
"Nothing I can repeat with all these recorders right here," he said after the game. "But, hey, sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way. It was definitely a drop though."
The Steelers went down to regain the lead, but not until Coates dropped two more potential touchdown passes. The first went through his hands just inside the end zone, and three snaps later he dropped an easy pass at the one as he was heading into the end zone uncovered.
Roethlisberger threw a 1-yard scoring pass to tight end Jesse James on the next snap to spare Coates any embarrassment, but Coates was more concerned about a gash on his hand between his first and second fingers. Coates doesn't know how it happened, and at halftime he was stitched up.
Yet, he came out and dropped a third touchdown pass in the third quarter and went to the sideline holding his hand. He asked Landry Jones to throw him a few passes, went back in, and dropped a fifth pass. This time the fans began booing.
"You've got to bounce back and keep your confidence," Coates said. "The guys still had trust in me and that's a good thing. I just had to respond."
He did. Coates caught a 22-yard pass on third-and-13 that brought out a mock cheer and set up a 5-yard bullet to Antonio Brown for a touchdown and a 24-13 Steelers lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Coates caught the next three passes thrown to him, including the capper, a 5-yard touchdown pass that closed the scoring at 31-13 for the Steelers.
Coates finished with six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 19 catches for the season and averages 22.2 yards per reception.
Roethlisberger told him at one point in the game that he still trusts him and would keep throwing to him.
"He's a great guy," Coates said. "Getting his trust is hard to do, but once you get it he's going to trust you. He's going to trust that after you mess up you're going to bounce back."
The long bomb to Coates to start the game opened up the short game for Roethlisberger, who completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He was sacked only once and had a passer rating of 124.4. Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown caught nine passes apiece for the 4-1 Steelers, gaining 88 and 78 yards, respectively.null