First-year cornerback Mike Hilton has inarguably been one of the biggest and best surprises for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. If you want something Steelers-related to be thankful for, their stumbling upon him would probably be as good as any.
Recently, the former undrafted free agent was interviewed on the NFL Network to talk about his team and how they have gotten to their 8-2 record, the best in the AFC, after going 3-2 in their first five games, and then 5-0 in their past five.
“Offensively and defensively, we’re starting to find our rhythm”, he said. “Everybody talks about the offensive struggles, but we all know how explosive they are. And defensively, we know if we get a lot of turnovers and put our offense on a short field, they’ll just take off, so we’re starting to find our rhythm and guys are starting to make plays that they should have made earlier in the season”.
Those plays that should have been made earlier in the season can apply equally to the offense and the defense. From missed throws to missed tackles, dropped catches and dropped interceptions, the Steelers struggled to capitalize on their opportunities, and have done better with them over the course of the past several games.
Both sides of the ball exploded on Thursday, scoring four touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball and picking off four passes on the defensive side. After each interception, the defense celebrated by posing for a ‘picture’, which caught on on social media.
“The offense gets the celebrations more because of the touchdowns, so the defense had to add a little flavor to it also”, he said. While he was asked about whether or not the Saints actually came up with the celebration first, he said, “we’re having more fun with it, to be honest”. Which is all that really matters.
He also told the story of another opportunity he had just after he signed with Pittsburgh on the practice squad a little under a year ago. “I got the call from Footlocker, which I applied for back in my hometown, and they said you got the job”, he said. “To be honest, I was like, ‘yeah, I got a better opportunity than that, so…’”
I would say that that career choice paid off. As had leaning on the veterans of the defense and learning from them what it takes to be at your best. On the advice he’s been given, he said that the most important has been simply “staying on top of your game. Mentally, you’ve got to get in the film room, you’ve got to find any little negative that an offense gives you so you can make plays and be the playmaker you want to be. Also learning from the guys, just have fun with it”.
Hilton has been a bit of a playmaker, recording 41 tackles, including a few for a loss, as well as a sack.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 21, 2017