These are what I call the unheralded players after a win. You won’t see Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant or even Bud Dupree in this article, but instead focusing on the players who flew under the radar, but made a big impact in the game.
Time for the unheralded players of Week 2...
Some fans just overlooked the signing of Alualu in free-agency this off-season, but if you looked close enough, you saw a tremendous player who was stuck on an awful team his entire career. You can’t blame Alualu for being drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, but he’s thriving as a backup in Pittsburgh.
Against the Vikings, Alualu got the start and contributed with three tackles and a quarterback hit. Not mind-blowing stats, but Alualu has filled in well for Stephon Tuitt in his absence. Quality depth is hard to come by and the defensive line should rest a bit easier knowing Alualu is there if needed.
Rogers is slowly becoming a nice third-down safety blanket for Ben Roethlisberger, and the offense sure could use a quality third-down possession receiver. Rogers runs extremely clean and crisp routes, and is usually very trustworthy when the ball is headed his direction.
Rogers finished Week 2 with 4 catches for 43 yards, but he was targeted 7 times. Although technically his third year, Rogers is essentially in his second year with significant playing time. You can see he and Roethlisberger still aren’t on the same page all the time, but like the rest of the offense, this will improve. With the offensive weapons around him naturally drawing a lot of attention, Rogers could thrive on his one-on-one matchups down the stretch.
Chris Boswell and Jordan Berry have both been tremendous this season, and Week 2 was no different. Berry averaged 38.6 yards per punt, with two downed inside the 20-yard line. Distance isn’t the full story with punting, with direction and hang time almost equally important. The downed punt inside the 1-yard line was a thing of beauty.
From the placekicking side of things, Boswell has been perfect. Sure, he missed the 51-yard field goal he attempted which was nullified by a penalty, but we will just call that an early season mulligan. One aspect of Boswell’s game which has certainly improved are his kickoffs. In 2016, his first year, there were times fans wondered if he had the leg to consistently kick touchbacks and not surrender a return. He has proven he is more than capable of doing that in 2017 with regularity.
The man they call “Dirty Red” is a special breed. The kind who thrives on special teams and just goes about his business. Matakevich has made tremendous special teams plays in the first two games of the season. First, his blocked punt in Week 1 led to the first touchdown of the 2017 regular season, and his heads up play on the fake punt against the Vikings stopped what could have been a momentum-swinging play by the visiting team. Matakevich has the look, and play, of a special teams captain in the future.