It's been a few weeks since I've taken note of a handful of Pittsburgh Steelers who had an important impact on a game's outcome in ways that don't necessarily jump out on the stat sheet. Let's get back to it this week in the wake of the Steelers' important 19-16 overtime road win over the Buffalo Bills.
- Mewelde Moore - the veteran 3rd down had seven touches on Sunday - three went for 1st down yardage. Moore still doesn't provide much upside in the running game, but he sure has proven his value in the passing game, as well as his acumen picking up blocking assignments. It's tempting to believe that veterans like Moore are easily replaced by younger, cheaper options. But the reality is that proven, reliable, consistent contributors like Moore are priceless in the NFL, where games each week are decided by the narrowest of margins.
- Nick Eason - the veteran reserve defensive lineman has done an admirable job filling in for the injured Brett Keisel. Against the Bills, Eason finished with two tackles and three assists. I'd have to re-watch the tape, but sure seemed like he was around the ball a lot. And what was most impressive to me was how Eason chased down plays in pursuit beyond the trenches. Just good effort and hustle from a dude who's really improved and over-achieved since joining the Steelers and working with John Mitchell back in 2007.
- Anthony Madison - Sure, the veteran special teams ace looked out of sorts on a play or two, but let's be real. Madison played pretty darn well all things considered after Bryant McFadden left with a hamstring injury. Madison finished with three tackles and three assists. At least one came on special teams. I just thought Madison did a solid job wrapping up, not letting anything big materialize in front of him, and generally speaking, not allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills' offense to pick on him despite having not many snaps at corner this season. Kudos to him, and we may just need similarly solid performances in the forthcoming weeks. Dale Lolley has mentioned on his blog that McFadden's hamstring injury doesn't look good.
- Flozell Adams - no stats or video analysis to back this puppy up, but I thought Adams was one of the main catalysts for Rashard Mendenhall's 150+ yard performance. The decision to sign Adams sure didn't look that promising in mid-August. But since his early-camp struggles, Adams has more than held his own at right tackle. With all the chaos going on around him on the offensive line, the Steelers definitely need to continue getting stable play from the veteran Adams down the stretch. Third tight end David Johnson is worthy of honorable mention as well for his contributions run-blocking.
- Ryan Clark - the secondary, and the defense as a whole, was not perfect against the Bills - at least not during the second half. But one of the reasons the Bills only mustered 16 points was the fact that the Steelers didn't miss many tackles on defense. Ryan Clark didn't have any highlight reel hits or game-changing plays, but he definitely took some nice angles to the ball that limited the big plays that Buffalo has relied upon so heavily this year. Of course, it was Clark who got beat deep on Steve Johnson's should-have-been-game-winner in overtime, but nevertheless, a job well done by Clark for the better part of last Sunday's win. Good decision by the Steelers' top brass to re-sign Clark this offseason, even if there's still the need to get younger at the safety position in years to come.