Best Play/Worst Play: CB Joe Haden

Series we’re bringing back to Steelers Depot that we began last year. A snapshot of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 season, a look at the singular best and worst play from each player on the roster. If I wanted to sum up a players season in 30 seconds, these are the plays I would look at.

Looking at the highlight and lowlight of Joe Haden.

Best Play: Run Defense Against Orlando Brown And Baltimore

I know choosing the interception versus New England would be the obvious pick. And if I was taking this exercise literally and to the letter, it’d be the choice. But everyone remembers the play with how monumental – and frankly, against Tom Brady – plain rare it was. So I wanted to go in a different direction with a play likely long forgotten.

This is the type of play that epitomizes who Haden is. How he makes himself a leader in that room and a corner all the others model their game after. He’s not just a cover corner. He’ll get in there and do the dirty work in the run game. Play bigger than his size, with more physicality and intensity. That gets revealed when you’re facing a 350 pound offensive tackle like he did in Week 9.

Right tackle Orlando Brown, #78, is pulling around on this Ravens’ run. Haden meets him in the hole. A lot of corners are bailing out. Backing off, simply slowing the play up, or at best, cut him and try to take him out at the knees and let someone else clean it up. Not Haden. He stands his ground, absorbs the block, and makes the tackle. Top level play you won’t see from many guys at his size and position.

Worst Play: Long Catch Allowed Versus Denver

I’ll lean against putting the touchdown given up against Baltimore since I already wrote it up for Cam Sutton. Instead, we’ll go with this 38 yard reception allowed to Emmanuel Sanders in the tough loss to Denver. Cover 1. Haden beat by Emmanuel Sanders off the line and lacks the speed to recover. Safety can’t close in time and it’s a big gain given up. Broncos go on to score the next play.

Haden is still this team’s number one corner, and hopefully he remains in that spot for the next two years, but you can see some of the signs of his game in decline. He’s not quite the athlete he once was and while he plays with instincts and savviness you’d expect from a veteran, it doesn’t always bail him out.

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