The Pittsburgh Steelers played one of, if not, their best game of the season as they defeated the New Orleans Saints, 20-10 coming off of the bye week on Sunday. The defense was stout and offense showed flashes of its potential running for 217 total yards. One of the key players in the game was a heavily criticized competitor who leaped into a starting role due to linebacker, Myles Jack‘s knee injury.
Jack has been one of the team’s most consistent and efficient players during what has been a rather gloomy season. He has battled a knee injury recently and although he was active on Sunday, did not participate much. Tomlin credited his defense’s performance and believes it was a good thing that Jack didn’t have to be involved.
“We had him ready to go, he was willing to go. We were going to be prudent about his usage and just as the game unfolded, we liked the mix of the guys we had in there. We were getting off on third down and so conditioning and things of that nature didn’t become a factor and we were able to keep him out of the mix which was a good thing.”
Inside linebacker, Robert Spillane stepped up in a big way. He essentially sealed the victory getting in the backfield on a fourth down preventing Andy Dalton from sneaking his way to hope in the final quarter of the game. He led the team in tackles with seven and aside from a couple poor plays in coverage, was one of the key pieces to a dominant defensive effort that led to a crucial victory.
Tomlin doesn’t necessarily see Spillane as a fill-in type of player. He legitimately believes that the team has three guys who could put a helmet on and start each and every week; an incredible advantage to have.
“Rob’s a starter-like dude. We feel like we got a pair and a spare there. We got three starting inside linebackers. He proved that today, but I think he’s continually proved that for some time.”
Most of the attention was on T.J. Watt the last two weeks leading into the game as he returned from a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in Week 1. He had four tackles and a QB hit, but acknowledged after the game that Spillane was critical for the team throughout the contest.
“He’s a very versatile player. He can blitz well, he can cover well as well and he’s just a good communicator also so that’s super important, especially when we’re at home. He did a great job today of just communicating and he made some big plays for us.”
Spillane has surely had his highs and lows. Fans fell in love with him after a monster of a hit on Tennessee Titans‘ running back, Derrick Henry a couple years ago.
First start of his career and Robert Spillane meets Derrick Henry at the goal line and stuffs him.
What a play, Spillane is tough as nails. That’s what Steelers football is all about. pic.twitter.com/vyken2Y6BA
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) October 25, 2020
He has proven to be inconsistent, but shows flashes of being a pivotal piece on a star-studded defense. It seemed as if he was all over the field against New Orleans and consistently involved in the big defensive plays that led to a win. The praise from Tomlin and Watt afterwards was certainly warranted and the Steelers’ organization can hope that he builds off of his great performance and contributes in a positive manner for the rest of the season.
What are your thoughts on Spillane’s performance against the Saints? Let us know in the comments below!