The Pittsburgh Steelers faced the New York Giants on Saturday night and came away with a loss after a Martavis Bryant fumble inside the Giants 30 sealed their fate when it seemed the Steelers were poised to take the lead late.
Win or lose during the preseason, the most important thing is to take away the bright spots. And there were certainly some bright spots to the evening – Dri Archer lighting up the field for 46 yards on a short pass from Ben Roethlisberger, Markus Wheaton nabbing a nice 28 yarder, and Mike Mitchell lighting up a Giant so hard he popped his helmet off.
The brightest part of the evening, however, was Steelers LB Sean Spence.
For never taking a regular season snap in his career, Spence is very well known amongst Steeler Nation. Spence, as many of you (or ALL of you) should know had his knee blown out in the final preseason game back in 2012. Spence’s career appeared in jeopardy because the injury was so gruesome. It took almost 2 years for Spence to participate in another snap against an opposing offense that did not consist of his own teammates. Many weren’t sure how good, if even at an NFL level, Spence would be upon his return.
I believe the critics can quiet down a bit after Saturday evening’s contest against the Giants. Spence took the field in the first quarter on the first drive of the game with the first team defense. The opportunity arose with Shazier out nursing a knee injury from early in the week, and Spence took full advantage. He was all over the field and showed great poise. He was in on the second play of the game and getting an assist from fellow ILB Lawrence Timmons – who appeared to struggle a bit out there.
Spence added two more tackles – one solo, one assisted – before he was done for the evening. Spence’s only blemish of the evening was an illegal hands to the face that resulted in a 5 yard penalty during a punt return for the Steelers.
Three tackles? That’s it? Not very special. On any other evening, I would probably agree. But, Spence’s return is not just any other evening of football. He stepped up and played incredibly well. While in the game, his name was mentioned by the announcers numerous times just being in or around a play. The man took advantage of the situation he found himself in. Twitter lit up with comments about Spence’s presence on the field.
Spence is for real. Congratulations on your return.
Ryan Shazier may have a bit of a camp battle on his hands now.