Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been nothing short of a tackling machine for the past five weeks, after overcoming a slow start plagued by missed tackles that helped expose the defense around him.
Monday night was no different as he matched his Week Two total of 12 tackles, including a season-high 11 solo tackles against the Houston Texans, and is now sixth in the league in total tackles with 63 on the season.
That has been his specialty since entering the starting lineup. But in previous years, he also sprinkled in a few splash plays here and there. The only thing he’s sprinkled on the field by the early stages of the Texans game was his own vomit.
That changed late in the second quarter, and the play helped spark an incredible 21-point momentum swing within the next few minutes.
The sack came on second and eight on Houston’s own 22-yard line when Timmons blitzed off the right edge. He chased Ryan Fitzpatrick across the formation before dragging him down just a yard behind the line of scrimmage, but it was enough to spark some life into a defensive unit that had been struggling.
On the third and long play, Brett Keisel was able to get pressure on the quarterback to force an incompletion and a punt. The offense needed just two plays of 43 and 35 yards to capitalize in the end zone, but it didn’t stop there.
After a muffed kick return, the Texans began their next drive on the five-yard line. On second down, Jason Worilds stripped the ball out of Arian Foster’s arms, and the Steelers recovered on the three-yard line, quickly turning that into seven points.
Fitzpatrick was intercepted on the Texans’ very next play, with Keisel again getting in the way. He deflected the pass, which proceeded to ricochet off of Timmons’ helmet and back into Keisel’s arms, who returned it to the eight-yard line. That, too, quickly turned into seven points.
That sack was the first statistic of any kind recorded by Timmons this year that was not a mere tackle. I just so happened to have written recently that this defense needed its veteran linebacker to make an impact play of some kind to help spark the unit.
His first sack of the year was able to accomplish just that, at a time when the team desperately needed it after getting run over by the Texans offense, which put points on the board on its first three drives prior to that while running at will.
Since entering the starting lineup in 2009, Timmons has unquestionably racked up his share of tackles. But he’s also registered 21 sacks, eight interceptions, and 10 forced fumbles prior to this year, not to mention 28 pass deflections. That is the kind of versatile, impactful game the Steelers need to see more of from their buck linebacker this year.