Thanks due in no small part to the great work of former offensive line coach Mike Munchak, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to produce one of the league’s top offensive lines of the past half-decade with talent left to spare, as they have had quality depth during that time as well.
B.J. Finney has been one of those depth players, though the team views him as starter-capable, and may well end up in that role in a year or two. The only reason that he hasn’t yet is because Ramon Foster has proven himself capable of continuing to play at a high level as he approaches his mid-30s.
But it was one injury from Foster back in 2016 that finally opened the door for the former undrafted free agent, giving Finney his first opportunity to get on the field—an opportunity that he almost missed—and in the perfect place.
Finney’s family is from Kansas, so naturally many of them are Kansas City Chiefs fans, but he and others were fans of the Steelers as well. It was a dream come true for him to sign with Pittsburgh after the draft. And it was a dream come true for his late aunt knowing that he would play and start against the Chiefs, though she past away in the spring prior to that happening.
He recalled that moment as the highlight of his career so far in responding to a questionnaire recently for the team’s website, saying that “the stars aligned that I got that start”. If you might recall, he actually suffered a finger injury early in practice that week as he was working at left guard, and Chris Hubbard took over for the remainder of that practice. Neither of them had ever started before.
But Finney was determined to play, and got on the field the next day. He finished out the week of practiced, earned the start, and helped pave the way for a dominant performance against the Chiefs in Pittsburgh in a game that included a 22-0 score by the close of the first quarter. It was 36-0 by the time Kansas City finally got on the board with 11 minutes to play.
His run-blocking in the game, including a number of plays in which he was featured pulling, was integral, helping Le’Veon Bell, in his first game back from suspension, rush for 144 yards on 18 carries. Ben Roethlisberger had a near-perfect night, completing 22 of 27 passes for 300 yards and five touchdowns.
That was the first of what is now nine career starts for Finney over his three-year career, which included another game, this time in Kansas City, against the Chiefs. Another win, this time by a score of 19-13, in which he again played above the line. Bell went off for 179 yards that time.