Pat Freiermuth possesses many strengths in his game. One very literal strength is his hands — Freiermuth prides himself on not dropping a pass, no matter the speed of the throw, and he takes the most pride in avoiding any drops in one specific area of the field.
That is the red zone, and Freiermuth had his signature moment of his rookie preseason there on Saturday night against the Detroit Lions. On a pair of throws from Ben Roethlisberger, Freiermuth hauled in the Steelers’ only two touchdowns of the team’s 26-20 victory over the Detroit Lions. He showed off his prowess as a red zone threat, and in one of the most anticipated postgame interviews following the win, went over to the media why he thrives so much in the end zone.
“I like scoring touchdowns. I like celebrating with the fans, like celebrating with my teammates,” Freiermuth stated simply, before going into further detail. “I just think there’s so much detail down there, and I’m such a detail-oriented guy that maybe some person that’s great in the open field kind of lacks that detail down there, because it just feels smaller. So I kind of understand coverage more down there, and kind of understand what I need to do to get open and score a touchdown.”
Each of Freiermuth’s touchdowns saw him utilize his understanding of coverage in the red zone to beat his man. The first came on just a straight route to the middle of the field and end zone, but he avoids his defender and gets himself positioned for an improvising Roethlisberger to find after the pump fake.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) August 21, 2021
His second was a more complex route, faking the cut out toward the sideline early on and then getting behind the defender to bring in the throw, adjusting to the ball as it arrived and displaying his sure hands in the end zone.
.@pat_fry5 would like another please 🤗
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) August 22, 2021
They’re the first two touchdowns in the career of the Steeler rookie, though he will need to wait until early September to get his first chance at a regular season touchdown. Each featured a strong route and hands from the rookie to handle a pair of hard tosses from Roethlisberger, and identify spots to beat the defense in the red zone.
That builds on Freiermuth’s Penn State career, which saw him catch 15 touchdowns over his first two seasons as he developed into a future Day 2 draft pick and end zone weapon.