If there has been a feel good story of the 2012 NFL season for Pittsburgh Steelers fans it’s that the Steelers defense has played out of their minds for the majority of the season. Granted, it hasn’t been the type of defense we’ve grown accustomed to. Fewer sacks and turnovers, and a few big plays. But this defense has really stiffened up and gets the opposing team off the field and is making life easier for the offense.
This past weekend we saw this on full display as the Steelers traveled to Baltimore and beat the Baltimore Ravens on the road, due in large part to a defense that forced the Ravens offense out of their game plan, and when they had to came up with both timely sacks and turnovers to stem the tide and keep the Steelers in the playoff hunt.
Sometimes when it comes to a Steelers defense it is hard to pinpoint an individual player that stood out among the team. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau does such an excellent job scheming against his opponents that it really spreads around which players have success on a game by game basis. This game was no different as depending on what point of the game the Steelers were in different players really stepped up and made plays.
In this game 3 players really stood out to me ahead of the rest. First is linebacker James Harrison who had to carry the brunt of the pass rush burden with fellow linebacker LaMarr Woodley out and he came up with 7 tackles and a big sack. Linebacker Larry Foote also had a very good game with 6 total tackles 1 sack 1 TFL and 2 QB hits. I keep bringing his name up on this list and deservedly so.
But this week I am going off the grid with a guy I have been very critical of. Defensive end Ziggy Hood had his best game as a pro. He was all over the field and while he made some plays that made me cringe, at other he was the player the Steelers hoped to get when they drafted him in the first round. He ended up with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFLs, 1 QB hit, and 1 fumble recovery. For a defensive end in a 3-4 defense these are impressive numbers indeed. And because he had what I hope is his breakout game Hood is my defensive player of the week.
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