Pittsburgh Steelers running back/special teamer Godwin Igwebuike made one of the most underrated and clutch plays of the season in Week 18 while fielding a kickoff return. To say the fans (and even media) were psyched for him was an understatement.
Seeing the kick approaching the boundary at Pittsburgh’s 5-yard line, Igwebuike stepped out of bounds and fell onto the ball, which rendered the kickoff out of bounds to force a penalty on Baltimore. That penalty allowed the Steelers to start their drive at the 40-yard line ahead of the two-minute warning, which should have set them up for some points ahead of the half if it weren’t for a lost fumble from Mason Rudolph recovered by Baltimore.
One of the smartest plays you'll see.— NFL (@NFL) January 6, 2024
Godwin Igwebuike fields the kickoff while laying out of bounds to force the penalty on Baltimore.
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HC Mike Tomlin was asked about the play in his presser on Tuesday, “How smart, how instinctive was that play from [Godwin] Igwebuike on the kickoff?”
Tomlin chuckled. “He did it, and I’m thankful that he did it, but those are procedural things that we work on all the time. We’d have probably been hacked off had he not done it, to be quite honest with you. You get more attention when you don’t do it. Gunner [Olszewski] was in one of those circumstances earlier in the season and we were probably hacked off that he didn’t. It’s just procedural things that you go through in terms of preparedness that's professional. And I credit him for being professional, but you guys act like he did a stupid human trick; he was just a professional.”
Tomlin let out another giggle as he closed out the statement, clearly amused by the level of excitement for Igwebuike doing “routine things, routinely.”
Though it wasn’t a groundbreaking play, it certainly was a clever one that earned Igwebuike plenty of bonus points for situational awareness — something Pittsburgh has often lacked on special teams as of late.