On Wednesday morning the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that Stephon Tuitt has been named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for Week 8. It’s the first time the seventh-year defensive end has been awarded the honor in his career.
While some might think it curious to give the award to a defensive lineman on a team that allowed 265 yards rushing, Tuitt was a big factor in the 7-0 Steelers escaping Baltimore with a 28-24 victory.
Tuitt recorded two sacks for a total loss of 15 yards, plus eight solo tackles, one assist, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.
And though the Steelers defense didn’t have a strong game as a whole, the unit came up big when it needed to most, as has been the case all season long.
“This wasn’t our best defensive performance game, at all, but those two drives that we did those stops on were the most important,” said Tuitt after-the-fact, who went on to credit the Ravens for giving the Steelers all they could handle.
“They’re a good team. They’re a great team, not just a good team–they’re a great team. To come here, away, and to steal a win, especially against a tough opponent and a division opponent like the Ravens, is big,” he concluded.
Next Up: Dallas Cowboys
In Week 9, the Steelers—in particular the team’s defense—will face an entirely different challenge. That is, not suffering a letdown while going against a 2-6 Dallas Cowboys team that will be without its starting quarterback.
Never mind that No. 1 QB Dak Prescott has long-since been lost for the season with a severe ankle injury. On Tuesday, Prescott’s replacement, former Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton, was placed on the Cowboys’ COVID-19 reserve list, ensuring that he won’t be available to play against the Steelers. COVID-19 symptoms aside, Dalton also remains in concussion protocol, having been concussed by Washington linebacker Jon Bostic during the Cowboys’ 25-3 loss on October 25.
That means the Cowboys have three choices for a starting quarterback on Sunday, including rookie seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci (James Madison University), who made his first NFL start last weekend and completed just 21 of 40 passes for 180 yards in a 23-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Alternatively, the Cowboys could turn to either Garrett Gilbert or Cooper Rush, both of whom were signed off of the practice squads of other teams in the wake of Prescott’s season-ending injury. Together, Gilbert and Rush have thrown a total of nine passes in the NFL (with three completions for 42 yards).
Sunday’s game at AT&T Stadium will mark the first meeting between the Steelers and Cowboys since 2016, when Dallas won at Heinz Field by a score of 35-30.
The teams have met in the Super Bowl three times, with the Steelers winning Super Bowls X and XIII and the Cowboys emerging victorious in Super Bowl XXX.
The two franchises are scheduled to meet again in next year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame game, which will be held on August 5, 2021.
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