This is the fifth in a series that looks at 17 plays that shaped the Pittsburgh Steelers' season – one from every game.
For this series we will go in chronological order.
No. 1: Le’Veon Bell’s 38-yard touchdown run in a 30-27 win over the Cleveland Browns.
No. 2: Wide receiver Justin Brown’s lost fumble after a 6-yard reception in a 26-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
No. 3: Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones’ sack of quarterback Cam Newton for an 8-yard loss in a 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers.
No. 4: Wide receiver Antonio Brown’s drop of a sure touchdown pass in a 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
No. 5: Cornerback Brice McCain’s 21-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 17-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
No. 6: Cornerback Cortez Allen gives up a 51-yard touchdown pass to Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.
The setting: The Steelers had managed just three points despite controlling the first quarter and were trailing 7-3 with a little less than 10 minutes left in the second quarter when Cameron turned in his second big play of the game.
The play: The Browns, facing a third-and-1 from their own 49-yard line, ran Cameron on a post pattern. Allen had single coverage on the play and the fourth-year cornerback appeared to be playing outside technique. That allowed Cameron to get inside and get a step on Allen. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer threw a pass that just cleared the outstretched right hand of Allen and landed in Cameron's arms. Cornerback William Gay and strong safety Troy Polamalu each arrived late and could only watch helplessly as Cameron ran into the end zone to give the Browns a double-digit lead.
What it meant for the bigger picture: Allen’s struggles in the Steelers’ 31-10 loss in Cleveland were pretty much the beginning of the end in what was a lost season for him. Allen started one more game before giving way to Brice McCain. He then lost his nickelback job in the Steelers’ 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts two weeks later after giving up a 31-yard touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Donte Moncrief. Antown Blake replaced Allen in the fourth quarter of that game and the latter played limited snaps in three more games before the Steelers placed him on injured reserve in early December. Allen had thumb surgery during the season and his knee scoped after it. No matter what role the injuries played in his regression, the Steelers have to fix Allen, whom they signed to a five-year, $26 million contract last September. Allen insists he has not lost his confidence after a humbling season. “I’m never a guy who keeps my head down,” he said. “I always see the big picture or find a positive in every situation. I’ll do that for this, too.” As for what Allen had to do to rebound, he said, “One, I’ve got to stay healthy. Two, just finish my plays. A lot of those plays I didn’t make were very close plays.”