No, the Steelers’ Week 3 MVP was not RB Najee Harris. QB Kenny Pickett had his first multi-passing touchdown game — a little inconsistent but an improvement over the first two weeks. CB Levi Wallace had two picks. None of them were the MVP of the Steelers' Week 3 win over the Raiders, however.
So what one player could be considered the Steelers’ Sunday night MVP?
It’s none other than Steelers punter Pressley Harvin III.
The Steelers punted six times on the night, and Harvin had what might be the best game of his career. Harvin quickly changed the field, starting with his first punt after Pittsburgh started the game with a three-and-out.
He did it all night.
On those six kicks, Harvin averaged a whopping 53.8 yards per punt. His consistency in the game is in direct correlation with other Pittsburgh signs of improvement. When the opposition has to repeatedly start off deep in their own territory, it’s defeating, especially when their own defense does the job it’s supposed to do, which is to get off the field.
Pittsburgh’s first punt, even though the offense had just failed, set the team in the right direction, on the field, as well as in their minds. It was the first time it felt like the Steelers had really started playing complementary football.
Time of possession was one of this week’s keys to victory, and although that falls on the offense, giving the defense an edge by burying the opposing offense to start the drives with a good punt was also key. They hit the field fired up seeing the end zone such a short distance away and played inspired football all evening.
If the Steelers continue to play special teams the way they did Sunday night, that success will creep into the other units, just as it does when not accomplishing a positive play.
Football takes place on the field, but the play starts in the mind and heart. Watching your punter complement the game at an elite level gives the team confidence even when the offense is having a bad day. It inspires the defense immediately.
Just as a bad call can change game flow and momentum, so can a great punt. If Harvin can continue his quest to make Sunday night’s game routine, the other units will feed off of that.
There’s still a long way to go this season, but sometimes, the catalyst that inspires comes from the most unexpected positions (or people). The young Pittsburgh team is starting to believe, and that belief in themselves is thanks in part to a top-notch performance from their young punter.
Now, onto the Houston Texans.