Diontae Johnson latest Steeler to break out in push for playoffs

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Call it the Diontae Johnson game.

With Pittsburgh's top offensive threats in JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner out for the third week in a row, the rookie wide receiver became the latest under-the-radar player to fill the playmaking void in the Steelers' 23-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

A week after catching just one pass on five targets and giving up on a play in which quarterback Devlin "Duck" Hodges was intercepted targeting him, Johnson put together perhaps the most noteworthy game of his career with six catches for 60 yard and two scores.

Johnson got started early with a first-quarter 85-yard punt return touchdown -- the Steelers' first since Antonio Brown's in 2015.

He followed it up with a touchdown in the third quarter on a 2-yard pass from Hodges. On the same drive, Johnson turned what looked like a loss into a significant gain. He initially ran to his right and into receiver James Washington near the line of scrimmage before reversing course and running in the opposite direction. He turned upfield at the sideline for a 14-yard gain just a few yards away from the end zone.

Then, just before the two-minute warning, Johnson reeled in a throw from Hodges on third-and-13 for a 17-yard gain, putting the Steelers at the 9-yard line as they held on to a three-point lead.

Quarterback breakdown: Hodges didn't kill the Steelers. Again. Coach Mike Tomlin will surely grin again postgame delivering that line -- or something similar -- when he's asked about Hodges' performance. The quarterback was somewhat conservative in the first half, completing 9 of 10 passes for 90 yards on two field goal drives. He also extended some plays with his feet, including a 22-yard run. The undrafted rookie cranked it up a notch in the second half when he found Johnson for the third-quarter touchdown to take a 20-10 lead. And in the fourth quarter, Hodges orchestrated a long field goal drive after the Cardinals pulled within a score with 6:44 to go.

Pivotal play: A couple plays after the Cardinals successfully executed a third-quarter fake punt to convert a fourth-and-8 with a direct snap to running back Chase Edmonds, cornerback Joe Haden intercepted Kyler Murray. With the Steelers clinging to a three-point lead, Haden read the play and jumped Edmonds' route. Haden had Murray's number yet again in the fourth quarter, intercepting him on fourth-and-long to seal with win with less than a minute to go. With the final pick, Haden has three interceptions in the past two weeks, including two game-sealing interceptions.

Pivotal play II: Trailing by 10, the Cardinals had another red zone opportunity early in the fourth quarter. This time, though, Murray was intercepted by the Steelers' TJ Watt in the end zone when Murray opted to throw the ball instead of picking up the first down with his legs. It was the second Cardinals drive in a row that ended with a Murray interception.

Pivotal play III: The Steelers tried a fake punt of their own om fourth-and-6 leading by two possessions with eight minutes left in the game. It failed spectacularly. Jordan Berry appeared to get ready to punt, then held on to it at the last minute. The Cardinals had it sniffed out, quickly drilling Berry. The ball popped loose and the Cardinals recovered it on the Steelers' 32. The Cardinals took full advantage of Pittsburgh's miscue and scored on a quick three-play drive to shrink the Steelers' lead to three.