There’s something infectious about being able to be very good at what it is that you do. And right now, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense is showing signs of being very good at what they do. One of the things they’ve done more than everybody else short of the New England Patriots this season has bene taking the ball away.
Through nine games, they now have 26 takeaways, just one shy of an average of three per game. Two of them, one in each of the past two weeks, has actually come from special teams, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Steelers defense so opportunistic as this.
Just on Sunday night, we saw Minkah Fitzpatrick record a fumble recovery off of a strip sack from Javon Hargrave that he scooped and scored on. He later would put the game to bed with an interception off of a pass defensed by Joe Haden. Haden would get an interception of his own. T.J. Watt forced a fumble on one of his two sacks, as well, though the Los Angeles Rams recovered.
While he wasn’t a part of that barrage, Bud Dupree was still a big part of the game for the Steelers defense. He recorded four tackles, all against the run, three of them stops, two on third down. One of his multiple pressures also forced an incomplete pass checkdown on second and 19 early in the first quarter.
Dupree is playing the best football of his career, but while his own growth and development has had much to do with that, I also think he’s now playing in a defense that really feeds off of one another, and that’s something that he talked about a bit after Sunday’s game.
“We’re just continuing to try to do it each and every week”, he said. “Minkah had two [turnovers], T.J. had a strip sack. There’s just a lot of plays being made. It’s fun out there, man, being with those guys and the excitement that we bring to each other, it’s fun”.
Having fun is a big deal in sports, because you’re generally having fun when you’re winning games and performing well. You don’t want to see your opponents having fun, because that usually means they’ve just gotten the better of you.
That hasn’t happened to this defense all too frequently lately. We’re not seeing ballcarriers popping up and being really excited about what they’ve just done. Because they haven’t been allowed to do too many things to get excited about.
And that’s what excites defenders like Dupree and Watt and Fitzpatrick and Hargrave, going on down the list. That’s what they feed off of, and pushes them just a little bit further. They see others making plays and want to add their contributions. That’s where this defense is right now, and it could hardly be more exciting to watch it continue to develop.