Last-second wins are exciting but, in games that go down to the wire, some players can be left out in terms of recognition. Also, some players' mistakes are masked by the fact that the team won a dramatic victory. This very well could be the case after the Pittsburgh Steelers' Week-5 win over the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. So, who were dubbed 'Winners' and 'Losers' on Monday night?
Le'Veon Bell: What can you say about this running back? Not to sound like Jon Gruden, but this is a special guy right here. Bell had 111 yards on 21 carries plus the walk-off touchdown. Bell delivers time and time again, proving that he is the best running back in the NFL today. His touchdown run was a perfect testament to the notion that maybe he's the best offensive weapon in the NFL.
Cameron Heyward: Time and time again, Heyward changed the line of scrimmage. Rarely coming off of the field, he and the defensive front created enough problems to hold the Chargers' ground game to less than three yards per carry while also bringing pressure to disrupt a passing attack that picked apart the Browns last week.
Jarvis Jones: The Steelers' 2013 first round draft pick has played well this season, making plays away from the ball, but on Monday night he was noticed by all. His sack on Rivers and the forced fumble that led to a turnover were both huge plays that highlighted his performance against the Chargers. His four tackles, one sack and one forced fumble performance might have been the best game of his short career.
Chris Boswell: Steelers Nation just needed to see that someone wearing a Pittsburgh uniform could actually make a kick this season, and we saw it against the Chargers. Boswell made a field goal early in the game and all three of his extra points, putting minds at ease at least for now about the Steelers' kicking game.
Keith Butler: Whatever Butler has this young defense doing, he's got it going. Pittsburgh's defense has been resurgent this season and it led the way to the team's victory against the Chargers, forcing several three-and-outs, two turnovers, returining one for a score and forcing the Chargers to rely on a field goal on their final offensive drive instead of running more clock and/or scoring a touchdown. Young players are making plays, including rookie Bud Dupree, who recorded his third sack in only five games this season.
Mike Tomlin: Many wanted to criticize the captain of the ship for the Steelers' loss last week, saying that he deserved all of the blame for the loss. But if you were part of that group, then you'd better give Tomlin credit this week. Especially in terms of clock management during the second half, Tomlin seemed to manage his team well in San Diego. He extended his Monday Night Football record to 10-2 in his time with Pittsburgh and his team recorded a major victory despite missing their starting quarterback, center, inside linebacker, No. 2 wide receiver, etc. Tomlin often says, "we do not live in our fears," and on their final drive they showed no fear when they put it all on the line and forgot about a field goal in going for the finishing touchdown and the win.
Michael Vick: Yes, I am putting Vick in the win column. Why? Because when the Steelers needed two touchdown drives in the clutch, he delivered. Throughout the game, many wondered whether the Steelers should leave Vick on the field with his errant throws and the frustrations the team suffered on offense. But when the team went down by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Vick delivered on a 72-yard bomb to Markus Wheaton to tie the game and give the Steelers' defense a chance to keep them in the game. After that, the Chargers managed to score only a field goal and Vick led a clutch drive culminating in the walk-off touchdown run. He converted three straight third downs in the absolute clutch for Pittsburgh on the last drive. The first was when he completed a 15-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Then, three plays later, he converted again with a 24-yard scramble, and then got Pittsburgh to within a half-yard of the end zone with less than ten seconds remaining on his third straight third-down conversion.
Danny Smith: The Steelers' special teams coach saw the unit suffer despite improving at the kicker position with penalty after penalty being committed throughout the game.
Dri Archer: As the Steelers continue to wait for the return of Martavis Bryant to the roster, they are also looking to see which player they will have to cut to make space for the second-year wide receiver to receive a helmet on game days. Bryant's injury gave whomever might have been cut (many speculate that person to be Archer) another week to prove themselves. Archer's main competition for the spot was seen from fullback Roosevelt Nix, who made several key blocks in the ground game. Meanwhile, Archer has failed time and time again to make noticeable special teams returns, a major reason he was brought to Pittsburgh. Add this to the fact that he's not seen anywhere in an offense that's already missing a speedy playmaker and trying to patch together depth in their offensive weapons. It doesn't look good for Archer moving forward.
Shamarko Thomas: Thomas did recover the fumble forced by Jarvis Jones but, when Will Allen went down for Pittsburgh, he was replaced by former undrafted free agent, Robert Golden instead of the fourth-round draft pick of 2013, Shamarko Thomas. Thomas did see time on the field when Mike Mitchell was pulled for an injury, but he didn't record a tackle on the stat sheet and wasn't very noticeable on defense (the stat sheet is always subject to change, so excuse me if it records him with a tackle later). Thomas also drew one of the special teams penalties when he interfered with a fair-catch attempt. He needs to become less of a liability and more of an asset if he wants to stay on this team.
Pittsburgh is set to host the 4-1 Arizona Cardinals next week coming off of a hard-fought win against the Chargers this week. While the team should be proud of its victory this week, it will be an even taller order to earn a victory minus Roethlisberger against Bruce Arians and his Cardinals to keep the momentum going.
Anyone who thought the defense might have been the team's ultimate liability this season has to be extremely happy with how they've played this far this season. Pittsburgh managed two turnovers, two sacks, and held Philip Rivers and his offense to 20 points with virtually a non-existent offense throughout most of the game, plus even scoring on their own to aid the cause. There are several players to call "winners" tonight that were not mentioned, including Stephon Tuitt, Bud Dupree, Antwon Blake and others but, at the end of the game, it was a team win and a beautiful one at that.