The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of the 2020 playoffs, but a dozen former Steelers players still have a chance at a Super Bowl ring. In fact, there is only one divisional round game—Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (Saturday at 4:35 p.m. ET)—without a former Steelers player on either roster.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
The night game on Saturday 8:15 p.m. ET features one former Steeler on each team. The visiting Baltimore Ravens employ former Steelers linebacker L.J. Fort (No. 58), while the Buffalo Bills have former Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich (No. 44).
Of the two, Fort has been more impactful for his team this season. Fort has started eight of the 14 games in which he has appeared and has been credited with 53 tackles (32 solo), along with two tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Fort played for the Steelers between 2016-18, primarily on special teams.
For his part, Tyler ‘Dirty Red’ Matakevich—a former seventh-round pick of the Steelers in 2016—has appeared in every Bills game this season, but hasn’t made a start. He has 23 tackles (12 solo) with two passes defensed.
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday’s early game—at 3:05 p.m. ET—is the matchup that features the most former Steelers players, assuming you count the practice squads and injured reserve.
Of course, the No. 1 seeded Chiefs feature running back Le’Veon Bell, who was signed as a free agent in October after the New York Jets were unable to engineer a trade and released him. To date, Bell hasn’t been as successful with the Chiefs as either party expected, but there’s still time for that to change, thanks to the recent hip and ankle injuries to Chiefs starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who is questionable for Sunday’s game.
In nine games with the Chiefs, Bell has 63 carries for 254 yards and two touchdowns. He also has 13 receptions for 99 yards.
Kansas City’s roster also includes former Steelers offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, as well as punter Dustin Colquitt, the latter of whom is on the practice squad.
Wisniewski was signed by the Chiefs in late November after the Steelers released him on November 7th. Colquitt also played for the Steelers this season, but he was released in October after posting the second-worst net in the NFL through the first five games of the year.
As for Kansas City’s opposition, the Cleveland Browns currently employ three former Steelers players, thanks to the recent signing of cornerback Brian Allen, who was taken from Cincinnati’s practice squad less than two weeks ago.
The Browns also have former Steelers offensive tackle Chris Hubbard on injured reserve, while wide receiver Ryan Switzer is on Cleveland’s practice squad. Switzer was with the Steelers this past summer, when he boasted that he would be the “next [Julian] Edelman.”
As it turns out, Switzer failed to make Pittsburgh’s 53-man roster and it was weeks before he found a place on Cleveland’s practice squad, where he remained the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Last but not least, when the Tampa Bay Bucs take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET, the Tampa lineup will feature three former Steelers as backups, through Antonio Brown will no doubt be a “backup” in name only.
Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in eight regular season games this season.
Former Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell and former Steelers defensive lineman Steve McLendon both are second-stringer for the Buccaneers.
New Orleans has just one former Steeler on its roster, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, and he hasn’t played for Pittsburgh since 2013, when his rookie deal expired and he signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent. Sanders has 61 receptions for 726 yards and five receiving touchdowns this year.
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