Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Antwon Blake, the weekly whipping boy of the team’s fan base in 2015, was a busy man in Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals as he not only led the team in tackles, he also had a big interception in the red zone on a pass intended for wide receiver Marvin Jones with 9:12 remaining the fourth quarter. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin was asked to assess Blake’s play on Sunday.
“I thought he did some nice things,” said Tomlin. “Obviously the red zone interception was a big one. I like his consistent physicality at the position, particularly with some of the perimeter ball that we see. The quick wideout screens, the quick game, I thought he was consistent tackler on the perimeter. I thought we minimized a lot of yards after the catch and it gave us an opportunity to keep the score down. A.J. Green caught a lot of balls, but most of the time he was tackled immediately, or soon thereafter. I think that’s reflective of Blake’s play and Ross Cockrell’s play as well.”
Blake’s interception on Sunday was his second of the season as he also picked off San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers for a touchdown in the team’s Week 5 game. While many fans have demanded that Blake be benched in favor of seldom-used cornerback Brandon Boykin, who the team acquired during training camp via a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s clear that Tomlin isn’t going to sit the former undrafted free agent down anytime soon.
As for Blake’s mentality right now, you certainly can’t accuse him of being a glass half-empty guy, as he thinks the 4-4 Steelers can run the table in the second half of the season.
“I can’t see why we can’t go undefeated the rest of the way out,” said Blake, citing the potential of a fully-stocked Pittsburgh roster, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.
If the Steelers are indeed intending on going 8-0 in the second half, they’ll need to get their first win Sunday at home against the 4-3 Oakland Raiders. Their top-two receivers, rookie Amari Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree, have already combined to catch 78 passes for 1,048 yards and 6 touchdowns so far this season. In other words, Blake and the rest of the Steelers secondary will certainly have their work cut out for them at Heinz Field.