This week I am giving myself the unenviable task of trying to select a defensive player of the week for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Upon a re-watch of the game last night, I came to realize that this was going to be a really hard decision. There were some outstanding individual performances and the sum of those parts was a dominating win. Rather than discuss every guy who had a great game, let’s talk about the big 3.
First is safety Will Allen. Allen was in there filling in for an injured Troy Polamalu, but you could tell from the very beginning that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was not holding back in the gameplan just because a backup was on the field. He did a great job filling the gaps, closing on plays and finishing. He was strong in coverage with 3 passes defended and 10 total tackles including several where he had to close from a deep safety to defend the backside on a run play where the end or linebacker got sucked in.
Next is linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who didn’t have the flashy numbers that Allen had, but he did something that won’t show up in the box score. He hit Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. By my count he hit him 4 times on pass plays, none of which counted as a sack, but 3 of them were incompletions. He did a really good job of getting into the backfield and pursuing. His ability to disrupt the rhythm of RGIII and the passing game was evident.
The last guy on this list is an old favorite. Linebacker Larry Foote continued his renaissance season with another big game. I take the credit after calling Foote out in the preseason that he’s the worst starter on defense that he saw that and stepped his game up. You are welcome, Larry. He was once again flying to the football and was the only Steelers defender who was able to sack RGIII. He did it on a designed rush from the outside, showing his versatility and the confidence the coaching staff have in him.
But just like in Thunderdome, there can be only one. And the one for me is Allen. Coming in as a backup and having the kind of game he did was more than a little impressive to me. He knew that the match-ups would be a challenge and he never let up. The plan to use him was sound and how he carried it out was great. And for all that, he is my defensive player of the week.