Maurkice Pouncey is, quite frankly, a player whom I have come to take for granted. I am comfortable admitting that, and I suspect that many have fallen into the same circumstances. The Pittsburgh Steelers center has been so solid year in and year out that we have come to expect a certain standard as the bottom level of acceptability.
So I’ve spent a lot of time honestly not watching Pouncey too closely this year, but I know that he has continued to play well. He hasn’t always manage to get to blocks in space cleanly this year, admittedly, but he is more than a name-recognition add to the Pro Bowl.
I think just one drive in the Steelers’ last game against the Patriot can demonstrate the sort of player Pouncey continues to be in his eighth season, in six of which he has received Pro Bowl honors. It was the final drive of the first half, and led to a go-ahead touchdown.
The Steelers pulled off an eight-minute, 78-yard drive to keep the Patriots offense on the sideline, and they converted four times on third down in the process. On the second play of the drive, Le’Veon Bell only picked up a yard, but watch the authority with which Pouncey rips defensive tackle Malcom Brown out of the gap.
A few players later into the drive, James Conner checked in, facing second and 12 after a botched snap on first down. The center absolutely swallowed up inside linebacker Elandon Roberts, turning him out of the play and sending him to the ground. It was partly because of this that the back was able to untangle himself for 10 yards.
Two plays after that, Ben Roethlisberger took a sack, but it had little to do with Pouncey, who here exemplified the principle of finding work. The center had no immediate rusher in his coverage, so he charged into Brown, knocking him off his feet, working against David DeCastro.
The Steelers faced a third and seven two plays after that sack. Once again, Pouncey had nobody to block, so he found somebody. Rookie Adam Butler was knocked to his knees before being buried by the pair of Pro Bowl interior linemen.
On the four-yard touchdown on third and four to Martavis Bryant to cap off the drive, Pouncey faced Butler one-on-one at the snap, but the linemen continued to work to his left. Jordan Richards, on the blitz, tried to turn inside the A gap, but the center was there to pick him up on the five-man rush.
I guess what I’m saying it, don’t let anybody tell you that the man is a legacy honoree, getting by on his name. He made his name what it is, and he continues to play at a high level. The fact that he has come back from two very serious injuries to continue to play this way only makes what he’s doing all the more impressive.