Outside of a rough season opener, Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been among the best linebackers in the league against the run over the course of the remainder of the season since then.
Timmons has not had the most consistent season of his career in terms of his coverage responsibilities, although some of those lapses could perhaps be attributed at least in part to his adjusting in moving from the mack to the buck linebacker spot this year.
After going to 17-0 in the opening quarter, wide receiver Martavis Bryant helped end a very promising response drive when he rounded off a route in the red zone that allowed the defender to break on the ball as another made a diving play to intercept it.
The Jets responded on offense with a six and a half minute-long drive, aided by a muffed punt by Antonio Brown, after which New York ran three offensive plays inside the Steelers’ 30, though it culminated in a missed field goal.
Before all that happened, however, the drive began with this four-yard run from Chris Johnson. Timmons made an excellent read, shadowing the back across each gap before closing in around right guard and lowering the shoulder after a modest gain.
Three plays later, the two met again around the right side of the offensive formation, though this time it came off a sweep the running back. The Jets lined up in the Wildcat with Bilal Powell in the backfield in the shotgun.
Johnson started the play lined up to the left in the slot, but Powell motioned him in, immediately taking the handoff. The Steelers skewed their formation to the right, anticipating the run flowing in that direction. Cameron Heyward forced Johnson to cut inside once he got to the edge of the line, funneling him right to Timmons for the tackle.
The Jets’ drive suddenly stalled after the tight end was flagged for offensive pass interference, which negated a 21-yard gain. As a result, they found themselves facing second and 17 from the 29-yard line.
The Jets line showed a lot of movement out of the snap, which was a handoff to Johnson. The left guard pulled to the right while the right side of the line down blocked to the left, creating a wall. Heyward stuck through the traffic, however, and forced him to cut inside, where Timmons was able to bring him down after two yards.
Midway through the third quarter, the Jets put Percy Harvin in the backfield, lining up two tight ends on the right side. The defensive line, with Daniel McCullers, clogged up the middle of the field, forcing Harvin to the outside, cutting between his two tight ends, where Timmons was the first among many to meet him in the hole after a short gain.