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Blog of the week 2: Facing his former team

No rest for the weary: The Steelers defense stat line was impressive in Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, with numbers including seven sacks, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

But one stat that flew under the radar was 100 snaps played.

Yes, three in the secondary — Terrell Edmunds, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Ahkello Witherspoon — played all 100 defensive snaps in the overtime win, and even a few more on special teams.

“When you play 100 snaps, that’s two games,” said defensive tackle Cameron Heyward, who played 57 snaps. “We needed every snap. There was no let-up. I couldn’t relax on this game because they go the other way. They were locked in. They had interceptions, slap passes, they faced a big body of wide receivers. I can’t say enough about those guys. Those guys played with leadership, they played fast with energy, and we needed that.

Edmunds said it didn’t strike him right away that he was ready for so many snaps, even though he knew he hadn’t had a break the entire game.

“It’s crazy to even think of 100 snaps,” Edmunds said. “You don’t really notice it until the end of the game. At that point, we want to do whatever it takes to win. No matter how many times you have to go, we’re going to keep going and keep playing. . .

“It was adrenaline for sure. The ebb and flow of the game, the ups and downs. We were on our toes the same way everyone was on the edge of their seat in the game. We Were there just trying to get a win in the best way possible.

“Ultimately, we found that, and it was a team effort of offense, defense, and special teams. That’s what we’ve been working on all offseason, all camp. . It showed in the first game, and you can’t ask for anything more than that of a young team.”

Witherspoon smiled when he started talking about the number of shots and didn’t hesitate to admit that it was boring. But he was back the next day alongside Fitzpatrick and Edmunds as a team.

“It was exhausting,” Witherspoon said. “The type of game we were in is what helped me through. But, being in such an intense moment, an intense game, I didn’t even feel like it was 100 shots.

“Yeah, I’m exhausted. But I felt like I was in good shape from camp. We had so many shots, so many dog ​​days at camp, I felt like I was in good shape. I I feel tired mentally and physically, but I still have juice in me.”

Having the ability to not only play as many snaps, but also play at the high level they did on defense overall, came as no surprise to coach Mike Tomlin.

“We put them under adverse circumstances in the development of the team so that would be revealed,” Tomlin said after the game. “I don’t think any of us are surprised because we’ve seen enough in the development of the team.”

This team development included practices at Saint Vincent College. This included hot days, rainy days, miserable days. This continued at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex as the team prepared for the season, going through physical workouts that taught them a lot about themselves.

“Throughout training camp, the first week of preparation for the season, we did two-minute drills, we did seven football shots, we did all these different drills to get ready to go out and play. make those plays in the moments of weight,” Edmunds says. “It’s something the coach really talks about a lot. Yes, anyone can make a play during the game, but when those plays really matter. When you think about blocking Minkah (from the potential extra point winner). We talk about it all the time. You never know when it’s your turn to make this game. We put ourselves through it every day to be ready for the important moments.

And what was remarkable is that everyone in defense made plays. Everyone contributed. Everyone gave their all, even for 100 shots.

“Coach exposes us to the moments that we experience at the end of the game,” Witherspoon said. “The ball at the two-yard line and we have to win the game, make a play. Being resilient and understanding it is not just about playing, it’s just accumulating details and that helped us get out of the stadium .”

What also helped them get out of the stadium was Chris Boswell’s game-winning 53-yard field goal with no time left in overtime.

“We were on the edge of our seats,” Edmunds said. “Even that block that Minkah had, we were out there saying everybody go out there and run as fast as you can. Somebody’s gonna run free. Whoever gets free has to make the play. Minkah went there down and made the play and we all felt good, then both teams’ missed baskets.

“Then ‘Bankroll Boz’, we knew he was going to come out and kick. It was something we were prepared for. We all felt comfortable at that point when Boz was going to come out and kick that kick. And He did.”