John Leglue. Montravius Adams. Ahkello Witherspoon. All three important pieces in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season-saving victory. Just as everyone expected. But all three of those guys stepped up in the win. Leglue took over at left guard early in the game after BJ Finney left with a back injury. Adams was signed and started this week in the middle of the Steelers’ defense. Witherspoon got the nod at LCB after James Pierre’s struggled sent him to the bench. And all three played well Sunday.
“How about guys like Leglue?” Tomlin said during his post-game press conference. “How about Adams? Adams just got here and played a bunch of snaps for us. Witherspoon started in place of Joe Haden. I can’t say enough about the contributions form new Steelers or Steelers getting an opportunity to get their train out of the station. Leglue, awesome.”
Only one of those players, Leglue, was with the team at the start of training camp. He showed value with his versatility in training camp, playing everything on the o-line except for left tackle. He even long snapped late in camp, doing anything to increase his value to the team. He spent most of this season on the practice squad but with injuries to Kevin Dotson, JC Hassenauer, and Joe Haeg landing on COVID, dressed today and replaced Finney early in the game. He showed well as a run-blocker, creating movement at the point of attack.
Adams was signed as the Steelers struggled to find an in-house replacement at nose tackle. Pittsburgh started him today against the run-heavy Ravens, held to 107 total yards on the ground, well below their 150-yard average. Adams finished the game with two tackles and a no-look pass deflection. It’s hard to evaluate his game watching it live but he seemed to play well for his first week with the team.
Witherspoon had spent most of the season on the inactive list, acquired from Seattle for a 5th round pick shortly before the season began. With Pierre struggling and Justin Layne being viewed as more of a special teamer, Witherspoon started in place of Joe Haden, missing his third straight game due to a foot sprain. Witherspoon didn’t make any big mistakes and had a crucial third-down breakup on a deep throw intended for Mark Andrews in the fourth quarter.
That’s how teams rally. Stars had to play like stars and they did. TJ Watt was unstoppable, Minkah Fitzpatrick had a pick, and Ben Roethlisberger led another game-winning drive. But the Steelers lacked complimentary pieces this year, other, lesser-known guys stepping up. Today, they did. And Pittsburgh keeps its season alive.