After a brief sabbatical last week, Flavell's Five is back to talk Pittsburgh Steelers. Truthfully, after getting trashed by the Cincinnati Bengals, there wasn't much good to talk about anyway.
Fast forward a week, and what seemed like gloom and doom has given Steelers fans one more glimmer of hope. Was the win over Baltimore enough to make Pittsburgh a contender in the playoff battle, or did they give fans one last reason to smile before the season winds down for good?
Let's dive into this and other things pertaining to the game, shall we?
Give T.J. Watt the DPOY Award Now
It's not a race anymore. Truthfully, it never really was. I'm not taking anything away from Myles Garrett. He's an animal on the outside for Cleveland and worth every bit of his first overall draft selection in 2017. He's not T.J. Watt, and quite frankly, nobody is.
Watt continued his 2021 season dominance by adding 3.5 more sacks bringing his season total to 16. Those 16 sacks tied James Harrison for the franchise record. It only took him 10 games to get to that number. That's incredible.
With five more games to play, Watt will certainly shatter the franchise record and potentially even make a run at Michael Strahan's NFL-record 22.5 sacks back in 2001. Those two games that Watt did not participate in could be the difference in him reaching the record or not.
Just Sunday afternoon, Watt had 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback pressures and made a heck of a play to rush Lamar Jackson into throwing a bad pass to Mark Andrews on the two-point conversion attempt.
Watt has been the runner-up in two straight seasons. He arguably should've unequivocally won last season. Watt seems to be on a mission to avenge that runner-up by finally being awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Roethlisberger's Last Ride Could be a Rocky One
We all love a good retirement story. Hop in your vehicle and ride into the sunset with your head held high after an illustrious career.
No one is suggesting that Roethlisberger's Steelers are going to sniff the Super Bowl, much less the playoffs. The AFC North is so unstable that a 3-2 record over their last five might just get them in.
It's clear that Roethlisberger has held this offense back at times. The aging quarterback has looked the part. He truly was slinging it on Sunday, though.
Roethlisberger played an incredible fourth quarter going 9/10 with 129 yards, two touchdowns and a sweet toss to Pat Freiermuth on the two-point conversion. He battled when it truly mattered and got the Steelers back in the game—just a gutsy effort by Big Ben.
He cherishes those moments. He said as much after the game. Even Roethlisberger will admit that beating the Ravens is just that much sweeter. That's the true rivalry for the Steelers. Cleveland and Cincinnati have both improved as squads over the past few years. Roethlisberger's success over both teams makes it hard to quantify that as a true rivalry.
Roethlisberger's final test before his potential final playoffs includes trying to beat Minnesota, Tennessee, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Cleveland. Those final two games will be huge as they'll likely determine the Steelers' - and the Ohio teams' - fate.
Credit to Tomlin and Company in Containing Lamar
Watching the Ravens and Steelers battle in the post-Joe Flacco era has brought upon a continuation of memorable games. Tomlin now owns a 16-14 advantage in wins over John Harbaugh in their career series.
It hadn't dawned on me how well the Steelers have done in containing Lamar Jackson over the course of his young career. He's as elusive as they come in the league today at the quarterback position.
Tomlin has keyed in on how to make Jackson beat you with his arm and not his legs. If he doesn't have a ton of time to escape the pocket, the Steelers have proven he's certainly not the greatest thrower of the football.
Shoutout to Tomlin and Co. in that regard. Those are really impressive numbers that the coaching staff and defense should be proud of.
Have Steelers Found Leglue to Their Offensive Line?
I'll start this out by making it clear that I don't see John Leglue being the guy that stabilizes the offensive line and changes their trajectory. As poor as the line has been, there's a reason he hadn't dressed for an NFL game before last week. He was drafted in 2019.
However, upon his entry into the game on Sunday, the Steelers' offensive line seemed to play better.
That's great for him and great for the team. With all the injuries and poor play, there is no reason Leglue shouldn't be right back in the starting lineup next week. It's worth a try.
Consider the fact that the rushing attack has been fairly non-existent lately. All of a sudden, it seems there are signs of life. Leglue isn't going to turn into some all-pro lineman, but if he provides the line with a spark, then you've got to give him some run.
Dan Moore went out in pain on Sunday. It's tough to get injured guys up to speed for a Thursday night game. I'd bet John Leglue gets his first NFL start on Thursday night against the Vikings. And good on him.
Diontae Johnson is a Top 10 Receiver
Diontae Johnson was a focal point of my last Flavell's Five against the Chargers and rightfully so. He was incredible in the near comeback. Johnson's first drop of the season came last week against Cincinnati. He was determined to put that behind him.
So what does DJ do? He put up 105 yards on eight catches and accounted for both of Roethlisberger's fourth-quarter touchdowns. Week after week, Johnson adds another layer of elite-level play to his game.
Devante Adams. Tyreek Hill. DeAndre Hopkins. Cooper Kupp. Those are all names you hear commonly thrown out as the top wideouts in the league. Johnson isn't in that class yet. He is slowly churning his way up there, though. He's an incredibly gifted talent that makes people miss like Antonio Brown used to.
In the scope of the entire league, it seems like Johnson is vastly underrated. He's had a Pro Bowl resume all season and he's headed towards stardom in his breakout season. The absence of JuJu Smith-Schuster and the offense's quick pass mentality have helped vault Johnson into elite territory.
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