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Brice McCain makes first big impact among Steelers 2014 free-agency class

Steelers corner Brice McCain was a mostly forgotten free-agent acquisition in the off-season, while free safety Mike Mitchell was the more heralded and celebrated pick-up. But while Mitchell has yet to make a significant impact in 2014, McCain may already have paid for his one-year deal with his pick-six of Blake Bortles on Sunday that saved the Steelers from a possible second-straight loss to a winless team from the state of Florida.

David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers finally got a huge contribution from a defensive back they signed in free agency this past off-season.

But it wasn't Mike Mitchell, the free safety brought in from Carolina to be the next Ryan Clark, who stepped up to save the day. It was Brice McCain, a hugely-forgotten cornerback who was signed to a one-year contract in April after being released by the Texans.

McCain was given his pink slip just one season after signing a five-year deal with Houston, so it's easy to see why his signing didn't draw major headlines like Mitchell's, whose deal was more heralded after coming off the best year of his career with the Panthers in 2013.

After the injury to Ike Taylor in Week 3 and ineffective play from the majority of the secondary for the better part of the 2014 season, it didn't seem like anyone would step up to make his presence known on a unit that normally treats errant passes like one would treat a hot potato.

But early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, with Pittsburgh clinging to a 10-9 lead after failing to come away with points following a sack of Ben Roethlisberger that resulted in a fumble recovered by the Jaguars, McCain stepped in front of a Blake Bortles pass and raced 22 yards for a touchdown to make it an eight-point margin.

It was almost an out-of-body experience to see a Steelers defensive back read a route properly, jump the route, make the interception and take it all the way for a score. It goes without saying, that's not exactly familiar video for Steelers fans to witness these days.

A week from now, McCain might get torched up and down FirstEnergy Stadium by Brian Hoyer and the rest of a Browns offense that suddenly is dangerous and explosive. But at least for one week, he rescued the Black and Gold from a possible second-straight loss to a winless team from the state of Florida.

The Rooneys must be pretty happy with the McCain signing, considering they reportedly exchanged hand shakes and fist bumps with him after the game

It remains to be seen if Mitchell truly will make an impact as a starting free safety with the Steelers during the remainder of his five-year contract, but McCain may already have earned every penny of his one-year deal, and we still have 11 games to go in the 2014 regular season.