On Monday, Pro Football Focus released its 10 best players from Sunday’s game, and the list featured two players from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Offensively, the team was represented by center Maurkice Pouncey, while outside linebacker James Harrison was given ample praise for what he was able to do on the defensive side of the ball.
PFF also released their ‘Team of the Week’ yesterday, and, with Sam Monson penning the piece, once again, two players for the Steelers made it. Pouncey did not, as Monson awarded the center position to Falcons—and former Browns—center Alex Mack, but Harrison was a repeat representative.
In fact, the Steelers had two representatives for the defensive side of the ball this time around, as the PFF writer also awarded one of two safety positions to Pittsburgh rookie second-round draft pick Sean Davis, who recorded his first interception in the game. He was, I believe, one of three rookies to make the list, including Ravens cornerback Tavon Young.
On Harrison, whom PFF awarded at grade of 89.5 for his performance against the Giants, Monson wrote that he “is still the team’s best edge defender, and his seven total QB pressures against the Giants were three more than the tally the rest of Pittsburgh’s four OLBs managed to put together combined”.
That, I am assuming, may not even include the play in which he drew a holding call in the end zone to produce a safety, nor does it account for the false start that he drew. It was clear that his production in this game went far beyond the stat sheet, which shows just two tackles, and one sack.
As for the young starter, Monson writes that “Sean Davis has had a tough rookie campaign for the Steelers, but he was excellent this week against the Giants, primarily playing deep off the ball at safety”. Davis tied for the team lead in tackles during the game in addition to recording an interception.
Neither Harrison nor Davis entered the 2016 season as starters—or at least, not starters in the positions that they are currently playing, since Davis was actually early in the year working as the slot cornerback—so that adds a bit of an interesting dimension to the fact that both of them managed to make a ‘Team of the Week’ List.
Harrison has recorded five sacks in his past five games, all since the bye week, including one each in his past three games, but he only moved into the ‘starting’ role over the course of the past three games, after the Steelers defense gave up a game-winning touchdown with under a minute to play against the Cowboys.
Davis also entered the starting lineup on a full-time basis at the same time, if memory serves, and this appears to be the defense that the Steelers are going to carry out through the remainder of the season. it has produced inarguably their best three-game stretch of the season.