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The Dominating Duo on Defense

This isn’t a dynamic duo of Batman and Robin, or Green Hornet and Kato.  No this is like having two Batmans at the same time.  One thing this past game against Atlanta proved to me: When Joe Haden and Mike Hilton are on the field at the same time, offenses don’t stand a chance.  Not only do they shut down the opposing offenses; they are dominating them.  Haden is the shut down corner, who can eliminate the other team’s top receiving threat.  Hilton is the high IQ slot corner, who can cover the quick, the strong, the fast, or the big out of the interior of the attack, or rush the passer and have the QB on the ground in 2.5 seconds.  Utilizing their strengths together on the field, changes the Steelers defense from the Keystone Cops into a S.W.A.T. team.

Week 1 the Steelers were playing on a muddy, rainy field in Cleveland.  For 3 quarters of the game, the Brown’s offense couldn’t move the football at all.  The Steelers were enjoying a commanding 21-7 point lead going into the 4th quarter.  Then Haden gets hurt.  Cameron Sutton comes in to try and cover for his fallen teammate. 2 big plays later the Browns have a touchdown.

Week 2 Joe Haden is out of the lineup and the Kansas City Chiefs make the Steelers defense look confused, unprepared, and inept.  As a result, the Steelers had their biggest loss of the season 42-37.

Week 3 Joe Haden is back.  Haden and Hilton solidify the defense once again as they enjoy 4 turnovers in the first half.  Hilton recovers a fumble and picks off a Jon Bostic tip.  The score is 30-13 when Hilton hyperextends his elbow making a tackle out of bounds, at midfield on the first play of the 4th quarter.  Hilton exits, and Tampa nearly comes back finishing with 27 points.

Week 4, Mike Hilton can’t return.  The defense again looks confused as they are beaten handily by a conservative Baltimore Ravens offense 26-14.

Week 5, the Steelers just enjoyed their first dominating win of the season.  Haden and Hilton finally played their first, entire game together.  This wasn’t a sub par offense, it had the top receiver in the league Julio Jones, and Offensive Rookie of the Month Calvin Ridley.  With their star running back Devonta Freeman and top tier QB Matt Ryan throwing to them.  Not only did they shut down a top 5 offense, they abused them.  With Haden back taking away the #1 receiving option, it slowed the play down, just long enough for Haden to rush in and get pressure.  If Hilton didn’t get there, Cameron Heyward or TJ Watt were there to finish the job.

As we stand today, when Hilton and Haden are playing together, the defense has only allowed 37 points, and the team scored 92 points.  14 of those coming from defensive touchdowns.  When only one of them are on the field, offenses score 96 points versus the Steelers scoring 51 points.  That is a HUGE difference.  Better coverage equals more turnovers, and more time for the Linebackers and Defensive Lineman to get to the quarterback. It’s no coincidence that 5 of TJ Watt’s 6 sacks came with the H Brothers roaming the secondary.  More turnovers also means more possessions and shorter fields for the offense to score points.

Working together, Haden and Hilton are a force on the back end that will help Sean Davis and Terrell Edmunds, who are both new to their positions, but incredibly athletic in their own right, become stronger players. Pair them with the pass rush of Haden, Stephon Tuitt, Bud Dupree, and Watt, and you now have the playmaking athletic defense that was worthy of all of those high draft picks.

I am at least encouraged by the emergence of the Steelers’ dominating duo of the H brothers.  Pair them with Heyward getting pressure and you have a ‘Triple H’ connection. Pair Triple H with the High Voltage Watt, and now you have a tag-team defense that will make plays.  When it comes to how this defense is performing, you can’t have too many Superheroes.  The more caped crusaders, the better, and this defense of heroes is ready to ASSEMBLE!

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