NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers Defensive Player of the Game

Ike Taylor Pittsburgh Steelers

Charles LeClaire-US Presswire

As simple as it was to hand this week’s offensive award to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, deciding which Pittsburgh Steelers player on defense deserves the praise on this side was just as hard. There were several Steelers who stepped up and played well, but I am going to take a different angle to how I picked my winner.

The 3 guys I thought really showed up big are all members of the defensive secondary. Safety Ryan Clark was glad to be on the field and it showed with 8 tackles and 1 pass defended and a hit on one play that looked an awful lot like his teammate Troy Polamalu who missed the game. Next is the other safety Ryan Mundy who had 5 total tackles and recovered a fumble. My last nominee is cornerback Ike Taylor who had 0 tackles and 2 passes defended. And while it might shock you, I am giving the nod to Taylor. But hear me out.

In my preview of the game, I said that the player to watch for the New York Jets was wide receiver Santonio Holmes. He is a former Steeler, the team’s best target in the passing game, and I expected him to be playing his brains out to beat his old team. And in the final analysis Holmes was targeted 11 times, more than any other wide out, but only finished with 3 catches. And that fell firmly on Taylor, and for that he’s my defensive player of the game.

Yes, I know that Holmes had a touchdown. But in the post game, Clark admitted on that play it was his responsibility to pick up Holmes in the route and he didn’t. Taylor did a great job mirroring Holmes, and on a re-watch of the game you could see Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez read Holmes, see he was covered and the have to run through his progressions over and over.

Other times, he just forced throws to Holmes with no luck. I know it doesn’t show up in the box score, but Taylor played a tremendous game in coverage, and for my money was the most important factor in the team’s ability to slow down a passing game that was so prolific just a week before. Taylor isn’t the best cornerback in the NFL, but he always seems to find a way to make a play when this team needs one.

Who’s your defensive player of the game?  Don’t agree, come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know who you have.