I have absolutely no problem admitting when I’m wrong. According to my wife and kids, it happens a lot so I guess I’m learning. I openly admit I wasn’t thrilled about Brett Keisel and James Harrison returning to the Steelers this season and I said as much but I’m more than happy to announce, “I was wrong.”
At 36 years old, James Harrison has now recorded two straight games with multiple sacks. No one had the impact that he did on the field last night defensively and it showed time and time again. Not only did he get the two sacks of Baltimore’s Joe Flacco but he also pressured Flacco another time that resulted in an interception.
I thought Harrison would provide a nice boost in the run defense department but I really didn’t have high expectations for his ability to get to the quarterback. In his last few years, his sack and pressure numbers dropped as he dealt with injuries and the battle with Father Time.
Also 36 years old, Keisel isn’t putting up the flashy numbers to support any arguments that he’s playing good football but then again this is what the defensive end position is in Dick LeBeau’s 3-4 defense. His job is not to get sacks or to penetrate and get tackles for losses.
Keisel’s duty is to take on linemen and as many of them as he can so that his linebackers can get to the ball carrier. At times he has contain obligations and at others his job is to twist and stunt in an effort to free up the linebackers so they can get to the quarterback.
Old number 99 had some good games in the last couple of years but he also had some bad ones too. He was no longer the threat to get his arms up and in the way of the quarterback and he wasn’t able to hold the line with as much strength as he once did either.
Right no though, those things are in the past. Both Harrison and Keisel have benefited from not going to training camp and even though camp isn’t as grueling as it used to be, it still takes its’ toll on players – especially the older ones.
Where Harrison and Keisel end up at the end of the season in terms of their impact is unknown. Will they tire out and become less of a factor or will they continue to give Father Time a swift kick to the groin?
Right now, I’ll take the latter.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
photo courtesy m.deseretnews.com