On Tuesday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the team’s win Sunday on the road against the Carolina Panthers and previewed the team’s upcoming Week 16 matchup at home against the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Eve Saturday night.
When Tomlin opened up his press conference and talked about the defense’s efforts against the Panthers, he mentioned that Carolina’s running game was a key point of emphasis for the team throughout the week and that one unsung hero along the defensive line particularly stood out to him due to his impact as a run defender on Sunday.
“The one consistency that they had was in the offensive line, and they had played to it,” Tomlin said to the media Tuesday on video from the team’s YouTube channel. “And I just thought our defensive line did a really nice job. I thought guys like Larry Ogunjobi played really well against the run. Some of the other guys get recognized because their sack production and things of that nature. I just thought he was a real force inside and did a nice job in those areas.”
Tomlin praised Ogunjobi who was playing in a homecoming game with fellow teammate Alex Highsmith as both defenders played their college ball at Charlotte and spent portions of their youth being raised in the NC area. Ogunjobi originally was born in New Jersey after his parents immigrated from Nigeria, but ended up settling in Jamestown, North Carolina where he would play his high school ball and later go on to play for Charlotte.
Ogunjobi literally got after it from the first defensive snap, making a TFL behind the LOS to get the defense some momentum against a red-hot Panthers’ running game that had bulldozed several of their previous opponents on the ground. In fact, Ogunjobi picked up two TFLs in the first quarter alone, having his best performance in weeks in a city that he used to call home.
Tomlin also mentioned that Ogunjobi may not get the sack production that players like T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, and Highsmith do, but he still made an impact on the interior of the defensive line and commended him for his efforts. In reality, Ogunjobi should have received some credit for the sack that was awarded to Heyward and Watt as all three defenders converged on QB Sam Darnold at the same time, being the odd man out on the stat sheet.
Ogunjobi hasn’t had the season that Pittsburgh hoped for when they signed him to a one-year deal this offseason, picking up 39 total tackles, five TFLs, and just a 1/2 sack in 13 games played this season. Still, Ogunjobi played a big part in the team’s win on the road in Carolina and will now have the chance to finish the season on a high note to improve his stock as an upcoming free agent this spring.