Cardinals wide receiver John Brown looks for running room against Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell during Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh.
PITTSBURGH – John Brown smashed his previous career-high for receiving yards on Sunday, but he probably wanted to smash something more tangible following the Cardinals' 25-13 loss to the Steelers.
The second-year receiver had a fabulous day with 10 catches for 196 yards, but lost a crucial fumble early in the third quarter. A dejected Brown didn't want to focus on any of the good after the loss.
"There's nothing to appreciate about it," Brown said. "I feel like, at the end of the day, once the fumble happened, the Steelers, they fed off that. And they were on a roll from there on out."
The Steelers had just cut the deficit to 10-6 with a field goal, when linebacker James Harrison popped the ball from Brown's hand during a tackle on the second play of the Cards' ensuing drive. Pittsburgh then scored on a touchdown pass from Landry Jones to Martavis Bryant to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Brown said he recovered the fumble after Harrison knocked it out, but several Steelers jumped into the pile and safety Mike Mitchell emerged with in when the bodies were pulled off.
"I never lost the ball, but according to the refs I lost it," Brown said. "I had it, but all the guys, they jumped on me and they were in the pile fighting for it. So I can't say too much about that."
Quarterback Carson Palmer said the Steelers focused on Larry Fitzgerald in coverage, often double-teaming him, which allowed for Brown to put up huge numbers. He had a 45-yard catch on the first play from scrimmage and a 42-yard gain late in the third quarter to set up a field goal.
"They were going to really force coverage to (Fitzgerald), and that opened up Smokey for a big day," Palmer said.
RASHAD JOHNSON KNEW THE RULES
The Steelers crowd went wild when cornerback Brandon Boykin recovered a fumble for a score late in the first quarter, but the Cardinals knew all along it didn't count.
Steelers punter Jordan Berry dropped a punt near the goalline, and Boykin pushed it back inside the 5 so it wouldn't be a
touchback. Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson then picked it up and tried to run, but never had a firm grasp on the ball and it squirted away and Pittsburgh recovered in the end zone.
But since the Steelers touched the ball first, Johnson knew the Cardinals had a free shot at a return, with the worst-case scenario putting the ball back at its original touch.
"I feel like I'm one of the smartest football players in the league," Johnson said. "I wouldn't do anything that crazy."
Johnson said cornerback Jerraud Powers yelled for someone to grab it.
"If that one guy wouldn't have been there, you never know, we may have picked it up and gotten some good yardage to not have our team start on the 2-yard-line," Johnson said. "There are just things you try to look for that give you a free play."
DARREN FELLS SUFFERS SHOULDER INJURY
Tight end Darren Fells injured his left shoulder during the game and didn't return. He had his arm in a sling following the contest.
"We don't know the severity of it," coach Bruce Arians said.
It left Jermaine Gresham and Troy Niklas as the only available tight ends. Fells had the only notable injury on the team, Arians said.
BARKLEY TRADE COMPENSATION FINALIZED
The Cardinals will officially send the Eagles their seventh round pick in 2016 now that third-string quarterback Matt Barkley has been on the roster for six games. Barkley was acquired in the trade before the season, but the Cardinals would have kept the pick if they parted ways with Barkley after five or fewer games.