You’re going to be reading a lot of negative things about the Pittsburgh Steelers over the course of the next week. We are going to be writing a lot of it ourselves, because that’s what you do when you cover a team that is playing awful. It’s been a while since they’ve played a game that could even be remotely described as ‘good’.
Today’s loss took the cake, however, and it included just about everything you wouldn’t want to see—including a bit of revenge. Former Steelers nickel back Mike Hilton, who signed with the Cincinnati Bengals this offseason, picked off cornerback Ben Roethlisberger shortly before halftime and brought it into the end zone for the score.
It came just after Minkah Fitzpatrick recorded his first interception in more than a calendar year. it was Hilton’s first interception as a Bengal, and the first pick-six of his entire life. And he’s quite frankly relished the chance to best his former team.
“Best feeling in the world”, Hilton said after the game, about what it was like to pick off Roethlisberger and record his first interception returned for a touchdown against his former team. “To do it against those guys in a big division game, it couldn’t be any sweeter”.
Mike Hilton is very happy he can’t stop smiling pic.twitter.com/EuXD6y6ouz
— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) November 28, 2021
And if you’re him, how could you not feel that way? The Steelers seemingly made no movement to try to re-sign Hilton this offseason. Even if you could argue that they weren’t in a position to try to re-sign him—despite re-signing Cameron Sutton and Zach Banner—if you’re the player who doesn’t get re-signed, you take that as a sign that they don’t feel you’re worth the investment, or some creative bookkeeping.
His touchdown came with 37 seconds left in the first half, the Steelers trailing by 21 points at the time. They were hoping they could turn the momentum by getting some points on the board before halftime and then get the ball back to start the third quarter. Hilton completely shattered any illusions that they still had a chance.
Following the Steelers’ first game against the Bengals earlier this season, Bengals players talked about how Hilton came in fired up, and got others fired up, about taking down Pittsburgh. He has clearly been part of the change in the energy this team carries, something of a symbol of what they hope is a changing of the guard in the AFC North.
The Steelers won’t have another shot to prove them wrong until 2022. And who knows what this team will look like then.