The Pittsburgh Steelers secondary was depleted today. No Minkah Fitzpatrick, no Cam Sutton, no Ahkello Witherspoon and no Levi Wallace. Down their top three corners and All-Pro safety, against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nobody gave Pittsburgh much of a chance. However, they got it done in a 20-18 win, with Arthur Maulet, James Pierre and Josh Jackson as the group’s starting corners. Pittsburgh closed at 9.5 point underdogs, and Arthur Maulet had something to say about that after the win.
“Underdogs always get their bone,” Maulet said per a tweet from Mike DeFabo of The Athletic.
Pittsburgh’s secondary wasn’t a lockdown unit, but they didn’t allow any really big plays and they took care of business when they needed to in the red zone. Bend-don’t-break will be the phrase of the day, and Pittsburgh did a great job making sure Brady didn’t find the end zone more than once. By mixing up coverages and throwing different looks at Tampa Bay, they made sure the Bucs couldn’t get in a groove and settle in.
The secondary stepped up in a big, big way. In order for Pittsburgh to win, they had to, and they answered the call. Last week, the bend-don’t-break defense was on display with Pierre and Jackson at corner, as the team allowed just one second-half touchdown. Today, they allowed just one touchdown the whole game. It was an impressive effort, and Mike Tomlin, Teryl Austin, Brian Flores and the rest of the defensive staff deserve credit for devising a scheme and coming up with different looks to make sure that Pittsburgh wasn’t getting exposed by one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
Responding like that after a 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills last week says a lot about this team. They didn’t just roll over and use injuries as an excuse and come out flat this week. They fought from the beginning to the end of the game, and they came away with a win to snap their four-game losing streak.
Now, the question becomes whether this is a turning point or just a good win. If the Steelers lose their next two games, this one might get forgotten about a little bit in the scheme of things. But if they can steal a game from the Dolphins or the Eagles, then all of a sudden you can see a path to relevancy in the AFC North and maybe in the AFC playoff picture. At 2-4, all hope is not yet lost.