Ever since he was thrust into the starting lineup due to a preseason injury suffered by Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers center Cody Wallace has had a rough go of it most weeks, with the team often finding success in spite of, rather than because of him.
For those who have gathered into an impromptu fan club of the veteran journeyman lineman, however, I have good news: he just played his best game of the season in Seattle.
He played consistently well throughout the game, without any obvious plays in which his performance contributed to a negative play, which is a big change from the norm.
Take an early first quarter pass play in which he worked to keep defensive tackle Brandon Mebane clear of the pocket, driving him to the left. When Mebane left his feet, Wallace took advantage, turning him and burying him into the ground.
A couple of plays later, the center helped clear the way working a combination block on Mebane, ultimately able to get the defensive tackle turned and sealing him out of the hole, through which DeAngelo Williams followed for a pickup of five yards on second and four.
Several plays later, he and David DeCastro doubled Jordan Hill at the point before Wallace picked up Bobby Wagner working through the A gap. The interior linemen clearing the way to behind them produced a running lane for Williams to pick up an easy six yards.
Toward the end of the first quarter, Wallace provided excellent help to Ramon Foster in a one-on-one situation, with four rushers against six blockers. Wallace chipped at Hill to pen him in, and as he tried to spin back around, put him on his stomach as the offense moved 21 yards through the air thanks in part to the clean pocket.
Early in the second quarter, near midfield, the center and right guard again combined to work Hill, with DeCastro ultimately chipping the tackle before moving upfield. The chip was enough for Wallace to reach the outside, able to seal Hill as Williams ran around him. Had DeCastro been able to lock onto Wagner at the second level, it would have been a bigger play, but that is no easy assignment.
Toward the end of the quarter, Wallace helped clear the middle of the field for an easy six-yard touchdown run for Williams, working upfield to lock on to K.J. Wright, forcing him outside. While Wright was able to eventually get back around, it was far too late to influence the play.
Late in the third quarter, the veteran center did a nice job detecting the stunting end looping inside as he was engaged with Mebane. While his effort is not as impressive as it may look—the end seemed to trip before getting to Wallace—he picked it up cleanly and kept his man on the ground.
On the season, there were not many bright spots in the backup center’s season, even leading right up to the bye week. While he showed general improvement as the season progressed, this was clearly his best effort, and probably the best game of his career. If the Steelers can count on him not being a liability, that would result in a huge step forward for the line.