Last week I mentioned that the Pittsburgh Steelers made a solid insurance move when they picked up Will Allen as a free agent back in October. While the transaction itself was a bit questionable, especially since the team had Robert Golden and Shamarko Thomas as their backups at the safety spots, it certainly looked like an important move after Thomas went down with an ankle injury against the Bills.
Allen, a veteran in his tenth season who spent the 2010-2012 campaigns with Pittsburgh, would be relied on to take Thomas’ place in Pittsburgh’s sub-package defensive schemes against Detroit. The task itself did not appear to be easy, especially when one considered the Lions had the league’s third ranked passing attack (yards per game) entering the game.
The former Ohio State Buckeye answered the proverbial “bell” for his team yesterday, and his solid play coupled with some impact takeaways were huge reasons why the Steelers emerged victorious over the Lions by a score of 37-27.
In terms of tackles, Allen led the team with nine on Sunday afternoon. On the field for much of the day due to Detroit’s employment of a pass-heavy scheme, Pittsburgh’s backup safety did a terrific job of giving his offense the ball back at crucial times as well.
Ahead 14-3 at the beginning of the second quarter, Pittsburgh needed to stop Detroit from making any headway into their lead. The Lions had the ball at the Steelers’ 45 yard-line due to a Mat McBriar “junior varsity” punt. Thankfully though, Allen jarred the ball loose from Reggie Bush as he was being tackled by Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons scooped up the ball for Pittsburgh.
Allen’s biggest play however came with just over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter when Detroit had the ball on 3rd and 10 and decided to air it out for Calvin Johnson. On a play which turned out to be a touchdown due to a busted assignment by Clark in the second quarter, Allen, Clark, and William Gay read the play beautifully and Allen picked off Matt Stafford’s desperation heave.
While the interception was nice, especially since the Steelers were ahead 30-27, Allen’s return of 27 yards to Detroit’s 34 yard-line was even better. The timely pick then led to Ben Roethlisberger’s game-clinching touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery, and the Steelers took a commanding 37-27 lead with 2:29 remaining in the game.
For those of you playing the “home game,” Allen stepped up to record nine tackles and provided two timely takeaways for his team in an absolute must-win game against the NFC North-leading Lions. Although the stupendous afternoons had by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown will garner most of the headlines over the coming days, tip your caps and buy a round or two for Allen for his solid effort as well.
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