It’s probably safe to say that Fitzgerald Toussaint’s season with the Pittsburgh Steelers will be best remembered for, if not defined by, his fumble in the fourth quarter of the Divisional round game against the Broncos, off of which Denver produced the 65-yard game-winning touchdown drive.
That particular play doesn’t need a lot of analysis, as I’m sure it’s been replayed enough to be seared in the memories of those who would rather not remember it. But credit should be given to the overall body of work that Toussaint put in filling in as the starting running back for two playoff games for the Steelers, during which he scored his first touchdown.
One aspect of his game, however, that was notably sub-par in comparison to his Wildcard showing was his work in the passing game. He has four catches for 60 yards in that game. On Sunday, he caught three passes for two yards. He lost a yard on his first reception after he bobbled the catch, forcing him to pause and redirect his focus. By then he was being chased down and lost his sense of positioning on the field.
But that was a first-down reception, and he deserves credit for his work two plays later, showing aggressiveness in the blitz pickup in coming up through the hole to get after the late-blitzing linebacker as the pass sailed over his head for what was ultimately a 37-yard completion.
Later in the quarter, just a play before his touchdown run, Toussaint posted his longest run as a Steeler, cutting back through a hole to the left and spinning out of one tackle attempt, stepping through another, before diving for the left pylon and nearly scoring on a 15-yard run.
Early in the second quarter, he helped jump start a drive that started from the Steelers’ 15 with some solid running, a four-yard gain on a play in which he was contacted three yards behind the line of scrimmage. But he kept his balance, and he hit the hole, lowering his shoulder into a pair of Broncos waiting on the other side.
He added another four-yard run a few plays later, finding himself stymied at the line of scrimmage, but wrestling his way for most of the four yards, all the while maintaining a firm grip on the football as defenders did their best to rip it out.
On the final play of the drive before a field goal, Toussaint was back in pass protection, lined up to the left, but he spotted the safety lining up to blitz before the snap and raced to meet him after the snap, meeting him with a thud as he escorted him around the arc of the pocket to allow for a clean throw, which was unfortunately just deflected for an incompletion.
It’s too early to know what the future holds for Toussaint, and whether that future involves the Steelers, but he figures at least to be in camp this year, which is a significant change of pace, considering he only signed after the preseason, having been in camp with the Ravens. Could he be the third back in 2016?