The Pittsburgh Steelers began their Week 16 matchup in opposition to the Cincinnati Bengals in a compromising place defensively. Their prime 4 safeties have been all unavailable, both resulting from damage, as within the case of Minkah Fitzpatrick, Trenton Thompson and Keanu Neal, or suspension within the case of Damontae Kazee. Of their final recreation, they misplaced Kazee and Fitzpatrick on back-to-back performs and Thompson suffered a neck damage later within the recreation. Thompson was capable of return final week, however in the end was unable to observe all week and was dominated out previous to the Bengals recreation.
This pressured veteran CB Patrick Peterson to change to security full-time, as he did after final week’s turnover, and observe squad S Eric Rowe to begin alongside him. Rowe was faraway from the observe squad on Friday. He had spent the previous month biding his time on the observe squad, ready for a possibility whereas studying the protection. He had not performed a match since final season.
Each gamers carried out nicely on this recreation, every coming away with an interception because the Steelers dominated the turnover differential. Additionally they held the Bengals to only 11 factors, the fewest the staff has allowed since their final recreation in opposition to the Bengals in Week 12. Head coach Mike Tomlin mentioned the efficiency of his two safeties after the sport.
“I am unable to say sufficient concerning the contributions of these guys particularly,” Tomlin mentioned throughout his post-game press convention on the staff’s YouTube web page. “Pat Peterson and Eric Rowe are available in at security, clearly underneath the circumstances we’ve got at this place. Each guys performed all of it out, communicated nice, have been stable all week and each created some large performs for us within the type of turnovers.
Peterson has been a ball hawk all through his Corridor of Fame-worthy profession, however entered this week with only one interception on the season. He has two now and secured one on the Bengals’ second drive of the sport. They have been within the pink zone on third and 9, and QB Jake Browning seemingly tried to throw the ball away, however Peterson was capable of safe the interception ultimately zone. Like a veteran, he put his knee on the bottom for a touchback to present the Steelers respiratory room on offense. The Steelers then scored on the following drive.
As for Rowe, he intercepted a move within the second quarter. Browning tried to seek out WR Tyler Boyd however could not get sufficient air underneath the ball and Rowe was beneath to leap up and seize the interception. He returned the ball 25 yards all the way in which to the Cincinnati 14-yard line to arrange one other Steelers landing. That made the rating 21-0 and put the sport out of attain for the Bengals.
S Elijah Riley returned from IR previous to the sport, however the staff opted to make the most of Rowe’s veteran presence to assist stabilize the protection. The presence of veterans is extra mandatory than ever now that ILB Elandon Roberts is injured. Roberts wears the inexperienced dot, indicating that he’s the one taking the communication from the sidelines. The complete extent of Fitzpatrick’s damage is unknown, however it appears probably the staff will return Peterson and Rowe to security in Week 17 in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks.