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Tomlin Praises Young Players, Including Mark Robinson And DeMarvin Leal, To Help Beat Ravens

The Steelers grew up in last weekend’s win against the Las Vegas Raiders.

They became men against the Baltimore Ravens.

It wasn’t just the veteran players making plays though to be clear, they did. Cam Heyward. Diontae Johnson. T.J. Watt. Minkah Fitzpatrick. But the young guys carried this team to victory. Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, those names are obvious. They weren’t the only ones. Speaking to reporters after the game, Mike Tomlin shouted out rookies DeMarvin Leal and Mark Robinson.

“Can’t say enough about guys like Leal,” Tomlin told reporters postgame. “How about young guys like Leal and Mark Robinson, man stepping up. And the reason why we played him is because although they lack experience the type of game we were in lended itself to their approach to ball. They’re combative, confrontational people and it was needed.”

Leal and Robinson logged heavy snaps as the Steelers went ultra-heavy to minimize the Ravens’ run game. They opened the contest in their 4-4 defense, four defensive linemen and four linebackers, and remained in it throughout much of the game. Baltimore still ran the ball effectively but they didn’t rip off the 215 yards they accomplished in Week 14. Tonight, they were held to just 120 and 4.3 yards per carry with key second half stops.

Leal finished the game with three tackles while Robinson had a whopping seven of them with two solo stops. Robinson’s seven finished third on the team only behind Robert Spillane and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Pittsburgh first used that 4-4 front in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers and held them in check. Tonight, they did well-enough to stop J.K. Dobbins and the Ravens’ run game. It wasn’t perfect, there were missed tackles, but it was an improvement. Leal has seen an increased role, first with T.J. Watt out and then a niche player as a big outside linebacker while Robinson’s patience has paid off- into late-season action.

The run game grew up. The run defense grew up. So did these young players. And it’s leading to a bright future.

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