What would the Pittsburgh Steelers’ record be right now if they didn’t trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick? It’s a fair question to wonder given how the past seven games have gone, during which they have won five. And even the two games that they lost have been close, the catalyst for the defeat being late turnovers by the offense.
Most of their wins have been consistently close, though, within one possession, which makes the margin for error that much slighter, and the chance for any one play to have a much bigger impact. Like defensive touchdowns. Fitzpatrick has two, one in each of the past two weeks, and they have provided the margin for victory on both occasions.
The Alabama product was added at the cost of a first-round pick after the first two games of the season, acquired via trade, and he has been more than just a plug-and-play starter. The numbers that he is putting up are putting him in the discussion for post-season awards. Pro Bowls. Perhaps the All-Pro List. With a further push, perhaps even consideration for Defensive Player of the Year?
Once again, for the third time this season, Fitzpatrick is coming off of a multiple-turnover game, or at least a game in which he had a hand in multiple. In his first game, he intercepted a pass and forced a fumble. Two weeks against his former team, he intercepted two passes. Last night, he got an interception to seal the game and earlier returned a fumble for a touchdown.
“Minkah is a level-headed guy that his play”, Mike Tomlin said of him after the game, “is steeped in preparation. I haven’t been around him very long, none of us have, but we all know that he has a love for football, and it is displayed in the urgency in which he works daily. Not only on the field, but in the classroom”.
“He is just very professional, and so it’s football justice as far as we’re concerned”, he went on. “It’s not anything mystical. He doesn’t have a rabbit’s foot in his pocket. He’s preparing and taking advantage of opportunities, so it’s reasonable to expect it to continue, provided that we’re in an environment where those plays happen”.
You know there are few things Tomlin loves more than football, and one of them is football players who love football. He’s found a young blue chip player in Fitzpatrick who has that love for the game, and which shows, productively, on the field week after week.