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Stephon Tuitt's impact on the Steelers defense doesn't always show up on the stat sheet

Stephon Tuitt has made his presence known this season, even if the numbers don't jump off the stat sheet.

Houston Texans v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt has received more than his fair share of criticism this season for his on the field performances, specifically for a perceived lack of impact plays that light up the stat sheet and show up on the post game highlight shows. I feel the criticism is unjustified and unwarranted.

Please be aware that statement is coming from one of Mr. Tuitt's biggest critics through the years. I once referred to him as the Invisible Man in a particularly harsh article in the past. Part of me still regrets calling the young man that moniker, but it was my honest reaction at the time, based on my utter frustration with the lack of production from a talented young man that had so much more to give at that time.

Tuitt is one of the most talented defensive linemen in the league, blessed with every conceivable physical attribute you could ask for in a defensive end. He is far too talented to disappear for long stretches of game action at a time. Tuitt has the power and explosion necessary to impose his will on the opposition, similar to his teammate Cameron Heyward. There is a reason that Tuitt is the third highest paid player on the team this season.

His salary, coupled with some ill timed past injuries, has made him a prime candidate for criticism on multiple social media platforms. Although I feel the majority of the criticism toward Tuitt this year is inaccurate, his importance to the defense in becoming a dominant Super Bowl caliber unit is unquestionable. Knowledgeable Steelers fans realize the golden opportunity granted the franchise this season.

The triumphant return of Ben Roethlisberger has exceeded almost all expectations. His presence makes the team a legitimate Super Bowl contender. GM Kevin Colbert has surrounded Ben with a talented cast of characters capable of challenging for a conference championship, and much more, with their future Hall of Fame signal caller. In Pittsburgh, the mission statement always ends with a Lombardi Trophy. This year's motto is Win #7 for #7.

A big motivation Ben Roethlisberger utilized during his rehab from elbow surgery was the knowledge that he would be returning to a team with a championship level defense. Stephon Tuitt is a key component for a defense looking to live up to that expectation. Tuitt has performed admirably this season, regardless of what his critics might believe.

Tuitt and his defensive line mates, Cameron Heyward and Tyson Alualu, have done an excellent job clogging up running lanes and collapsing the pocket against the passing game. Tuitt has tied up blockers and maintained the integrity of his responsibilities each play. This has directly resulted in many of his teammates stuffing the stat sheet with tackles for loss and QB sacks. Even with his team first style of play this season, Tuitt has six overall tackles and two sacks through the first three weeks of the season. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Tuitt had a breakout game on the stat sheet on Sunday against the Houston Texans. The timing of one momentum changing play was actually quite humorous. Many members of your beloved BTSC staff, myself included, communicate via thread throughout each Steelers game to stay abreast of any injuries or breaking news that require immediate attention, such as a urgent update article. One of my distinguished colleagues wondered aloud via text, Where in the heck is Stephon Tuitt? I kid you not, before I even had a chance to respond, Tuitt made his presence known.

On the very next play, Tuitt exploded through the line and engulfed QB Deshaun Watson for a huge sack on third down, forcing a Texans punt. For the game, Tuitt was credited with four total tackles and the aforementioned QB sack, but his impact went far beyond those numbers. Numbers like 8 total second half rushing yards and zero points scored in that time frame speak for themselves. You win as a team, and you lose as a team, and the Steelers defensive success really has been a team effort.

The Steelers desperately need Stephon Tuitt healthy and productive on the football field to be the dominant Super Bowl caliber defense they strive to be. Tuitt needs some good fortune to finally shine on him for the remainder of the season. Does anybody have a lucky rabbits foot laying around? Better yet, would any of our faithful members be willing to send Tuitt a bucket of fried chicken and a bottle of rum? Hey, it sure seemed to work out just fine in the movie Major League. What could it hurt?

Tuitt needs all the good luck he can get.