Although last night’s game was certainly not uniformly spectacular in any phase of the game, each unit had its individual players making individual plays, and it was enough to add up to a win by the time the clock hits 0:00.
Among the many plays made on defense was a key sack by cornerback Arthur Maulet, which helped to sabotage the Indianapolis Colts’ drive in the fourth quarter that occurred right after the Pittsburgh Steelers retook the lead. It was the second of three sacks on the night for the defense, but this one helped keep things going in the right direction.
“Oh man, we needed it. Just playing good fundamental defense as a team,” Maulet said on SiriusXM Radio after the game, crediting his teammates for making it happen. “Them guys flushed Matt Ryan out so I can get the sack, obviously with T.J. Watt and Cam Heyward, all those guys up front. It just kind of opened up for me, so I had to make that play for my team.”
He was in the (defensive) left slot in coverage on the play, but Ryan only ever looked to his left initially as the pressure encroached into the backfield. That got Maulet off his line, and as Heyward, Watt, and Larry Ogunjobi flushed him out of the pocket, the defensive back came up and made an aggressive play to cut the quarterback down.
It was actually quite a sequence for Maulet. He made the tackle on the kickoff that opened the drive, at the 25-yard line, and considering their only other kickoff of the half reached the Steelers’ 19, that’s a pretty big deal. He also cut down Jonathan Taylor on a bubble screen on first down for just a gain of one.
That three-play sequence left the Colts in 3rd and 14 at their own 21 thanks to one of the most overlooked players on the team. Of course, he didn’t do it alone, but the important thing is that he knows how to play within the defense, and knows how to trust his eyes, most importantly.
That allowed him to be in position to make those plays, both of which took diagnostic abilities that not everybody in the game possesses, and a strong finish. It’s not easy to bring down a running back like Taylor in the open field, let’s not forget.
Maulet had six tackles for the game—on defense. He had another four on special teams, including assists, and I’m hoping that last night’s game reminded some fans just how important that is. There are those who only give thought to special teams when something goes wrong, when things go wrong because you pay no thought to them.
You won’t catch Maulet doing that. He takes nothing for granted, and that comes across in his performance.