Steelers CB Wins NFL Award for Game-Changing Week 16 Performance

Joe Haden Mike Hilton

Joe Sargent/Getty Images Joe Haden #23, Avery Williamson #51 and Mike Hilton #28 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrate following a touchdown by Haden against the Baltimore Ravens on December 02, 2020.

On Wednesday the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that slot cornerback Mike Hilton has won AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the team’s Week 16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

It’s the second time in his five-year NFL career that Hilton has won the award. The last time came in Week 16 of the 2017 season.

Two other Steelers cornerbacks have won the award multiple times, namely Ike Taylor (twice) and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson (four times).

Mike Hilton vs. the Colts

Hilton had four tackles against the Colts (two solo) as well as two passes defensed. He was also a part of two of the team’s biggest plays on defense.

Early in the second quarter, after outside linebacker T.J. Watt authored a strip-sack of Colts quarterback Philip Rivers, Hilton recovered the ball and returned it 14 yards to Indy’s three-yard line. The Steelers went on to score on a one-yard run by James Conner, which tied the game at 7-7.

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Then, in the fourth quarter, not long after Pittsburgh got the lead for the first time, Hilton intercepted Rivers at the Steelers 12-yard line.

“It [was] a big play at a big moment, and we were able to close the game out and get a big win,” Hilton told Teresa Varley of “We weren’t able to force turnovers in our last three losses, and it kind of put more pressure on the offense. But as a defense, if we put them on a short field, our offense will succeed, and we did that.”

3 Steelers Have Won Defensive Player of the Week in 2020

It’s the third time that a Steelers player has won Defensive Player of the Week in 2020. In Week 2, T.J. Watt won the award for his dominating performance in a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos. In Week 8, defensive end Stephon Tuitt took home the honor for the first time in his career, recording two sacks, eight solo tackles, one assist, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries in Pittsburgh’s 28-24 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

For his part, T.J. Watt has also won AFC Defensive Player of the Month twice this season, in both September and November, which helps explain why he’s the odds-on favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

When Watt was asked to talk about Mike Hilton’s value to the team earlier this week, he said: “Mike is a special cat on this defense. He blitzes, he drops in coverage, he does man-to-man coverage. He does basically anything that we ask him to do,” said Watt, before going on to pay his teammate a strong compliment.

“He’s a very gritty football player,” he added. “At the end of the day, Mike Hilton makes plays for us, and we’re very fortunate to have him on our team.”

Hilton came into the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Mississippi. He signed to Pittsburgh’s practice squad in 2016 after stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots. Hilton first earned a regular role with the team in 2017.

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