During the NFL season to this point, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense has not lived up to it’s billing, and their historic tradition. In fact, they’ve been a shell of their former selves. But this past weekend, the Steelers defense stepped up. They got out in front of their home crowd, healthy(mostly), and showed the Philadelphia Eagles and the rest of the league they can still play big when they need to.
But who stood out? For me, and this is with all due respect to cornerback Keenan Lewis do did a solid job in coverage, especially on Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, and nose tackle Steve McLendon who as a backup got a sack and forced fumble, this is a two man race, both linebackers.
I can’t believe I am saying it again this week, but linebacker Larry Foote had a great game. He finished with 8 total tackles and recovered two fumbles. On the season Foote is playing better than he has for the entirety of his career. He seems to always be around the football, and when the opportunity presents itself, he’s making plays. If there is any Steelers player I need to offer up a Mea Culpa for, it’s Foote.
My other finalist is fellow inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Timmons had struggled so far in the season, but this past weekend, he came to make plays. In my preview of the game, I said Timmons would be the X-Factor of the game, and he was. 9 tackles and 1 forced fumble later, and the Eagles had no answer for him. On more than one play Timmons ran down the entire line of scrimmage, catching Eagles running back LeSean McCoy before he could turn the corner, and stopping what would have been a long gain. Not many linebackers can make a play like that. Let’s just hope he can keep it up for the rest of the season.
So, who do I give the nod to? Well, may lightning strike me dead, but I’m going with Foote. Getting on those 2 fumbles stalling out Eagles drives was so important to the Steelers holding on for the win this weekend. The fumble in the first half in particular, where the Eagles were driving, and Eagles quarterback Michael Vick fumbles into the end zone was huge. Foote falls on it, the Eagles get no points, and swung momentum for the first half to the Steelers.
Who’s your favorite defensive player this week, Steelers fan? Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let’s hear it!