Heading into Monday night’s Week Four game on September 30, the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing to face an 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals team bringing into Heinz Field the exact same record. Falling in order to the New England Patriots, the Seattle Seahawks, and the San Francisco 49ers along the way, and losing Ben Roethlisberger in the middle of it all, it’s hard to imagine there was anybody who still believed in the 2019 season at that point.
Except for the team. And to their credit, they’ve kept at it, kept working, and since then, they have gone 5-1, their only loss coming in overtime to the 7-2 Baltimore Ravens. All of their losses have been to quality opponents, but they now have two wins against teams with winning records as well.
They just got their second such win, and second in a row, earlier tonight with a dominant performance by the defense, holding the Los Angeles Rams offense to just a field goal. The Rams’ defense contributed nine points, but Pittsburgh’s defense also responded with a touchdown, and forced three takeaways, including the game-winner, while the special teams added another.
“This means a lot”, said veteran cornerback Joe Haden, who had one of those takeaways and had a hand—literally—in creating the game-winning interception by Minkah Fitzpatrick. “We’ve been fighting, scratching, clawing. We started of this season slow, and now we’re just trying to stack up these wins”.
🗣 @joehaden23: “We’re just trying to stack up these wins.”
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 11, 2019
On Fitzpatrick, who recorded that interception in the final minute and also returned a fumble recovery for his second score in as many weeks, Haden said that “he’s amazing” and “a professional. You wouldn’t think it’s his second year in the league. He’s like a seasoned vet. Goes hard. And he’s been making amazing plays for us.”
Amazing plays and plentiful, as he has six takeaways for the club on the year now, plus a forced fumble to create a seventh. Two of his interceptions have been off of passes that Haden defensed—his first and his most recent—but as mentioned, Haden got his first of the year tonight as well.
It came on the Rams’ opening drive, on first and 10 from midfield, Jared Goff looking for Tyler Higbee. “I ran a post and I was able to see him throw the wheel route, so I bent it off my guy and went and high-pointed the ball”, Haden said describing the play.
His interception was just one of five passes defensed for the 30-year-old defensive back in his 10th season, and third with the Steelers. He signed a two-year extension this offseason and is looking each and every week to earn it. This was his first pick of the year, fourth as a Steeler, and 23rd of his career.