It may have been rookie inside linebacker Ryan Shazier drawing the headlines for the Pittsburgh Steelers for being all over the field, including on special teams, and coming up with the athletic interception, but it was veteran Lawrence Timmons who provided the consistency alongside him to help make his debut a productive one.
Perhaps most positively, Timmons was able to demonstrate on a few occasions that he is adjusting well to the buck position, taking on blockers and either shedding them to make the play himself or opening up a lane for others to do so, almost like a defensive lineman.
A good example of that presented itself early on in the game, with the Bills starting to drive on their opening possession. On a second and eight carry, fullback Frank Summers attempted to throw a lead block for C.J. Spiller, but Timmons absorbed it well, using his own shoulder to get underneath Summers and to his inside, and then proceeded to make the tackle himself.
Just two plays later, he did his rookie running mate a huge favor by crashing the line of scrimmage. Timmons was able to occupy both the center and the tight end, in the process creating a lane for Shazier to cut into and pursue the ball carrier with his blazing speed—which is exactly what he did. Quite frankly, if this is how things are going to be, then the Steelers will be in great shape at the position.
Later on in the game, a third of the way into the second quarter, right guard Kraig Urbik was able to move up and temporarily occupy Timmons, but he was able to free himself before long to help Troy Polamalu make the tackle after a five-yard gain. He showed nice adjustment to get around the lineman here.
And then there was my favorite play of the day from Timmons, which came just as the Bills were attempting to drive again.
A little past midway through the second quarter, toward the tail end of the drive that began with the play highlighted above, Buffalo was facing a third and one at the Steelers’ 25-yard line.
This time, Timmons was able to get the better of guard Doug Legursky, the third former Steeler that he bested on the night in order to make a play. The Bills ran an option in which the quarterback could either keep the ball or hand it off. The hand off went to the running back to the right side.
With Jason Worilds holding the point, the back attempted to cut inside, but Timmons had already gotten around Legursky and was there to meet him in an impressive collision from which there would be no forward progress. The third-down hold gave way to a batted pass on fourth down and a turnover on downs for the defense.