PITTSBURGH (GSM) — The only hits currently being generated by the NFL are via the internet.
All-pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is among the nearly 1,700 players in the National Football League who are eager to take the field in the 2020 season. However, with the uncertainty of whether a season will be played — in light of the COVID-19 pandemic — Fitpatrick spoke to the media (via Zoom) and his message to the fans was one of optimism.
“We appreciate all of the love and support they show us, previously and in the future,” Fitzpatrick said in his remarks Tuesday. He, along with his teammates, have been practicing social distancing during the pandemic but have been in close contact to help team chemistry from afar.
As far as the loyal Steeler fans who are anxious to watch football, Fitzpatrick added, “Whether there are no fans in the stadium or whether it’s going to be full, we’re going to have unwavering support and that is greatly appreciated and reflected in the way that we play.”
As the world sits, waiting for an outcome to the coronavirus, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement saying, “We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this off-season in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program, and the 2020 NFL draft.”
In the midst of waiting, Fitzpatrick knows there is no definitive answer to how the games will shape up, or if fans will be allowed in stadiums across the country, “Whether there is nobody in the stands or a full stadium, we’re going to give our best effort and make sure you guys are entertained and having a good time.“
The Steelers acquired Fitzpatrick in a week-3 trade with the Dolphins for a 2020 first round draft pick, a fifth rounder and a sixth round pick in 2021. He made a significant impact in the secondary immediately after joining the team.
He racked up 5 interceptions, 150 yards and 1 pick-six and became an instant fan favorite in the Steel City.
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Three members of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been named to the Associated Press All-Pro team for 2019.
This honor means you’re the best at your position for that season, and there is one player for each position (22 players) honored each year. This year TJ Watt (edge rusher), Steelers linebacker TJ Watt sacks Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. (Marlon Martin / Golden Sky Media)
PITTSBURGH (GSM) — Lining them up and knocking them down.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won 4 straight and are currently the 6th seed in the playoff race. That’s right, if the playoffs were to start today, the black-n-gold would be in the race for their 7th ring. But it’s only week 11 which means there are more left games to be played.
Speaking of games, the Los Angeles Rams made their way across country to Heinz Field Sunday to face the streaking Steelers and got off to an early start, scoring a defensive touchdown on a high snap that went over the head of quarterback Mason Rudolph. the Rams’ Donta Fowler, Jr. picked up the fumble for a score. Despite the early lead in the 1st quarter, Pittsburgh responded with a touchdown of their own late in the 1st after Rudolph connected with wideout James Washington to even the score to 7-7.
Steelers Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick continues to make clutch plays. He had two takeaways in the game, one fumble recovery for a touchdown — of course as retaliation — helping Pittsburgh rack up a defensive score of their own, and an interception at the end of the game to seal the deal. Fitzpatrick attributes his success to his teammates in addition to referencing his own ball awareness.
Final score was 17-12 in favor of the Steelers and head coach Mike Tomlin praising his defense moments after the win.
“We have been open about that we need turnovers. Great defenses get themselves off the field. Great defenses stand up in the face of adversity when put on a short field. We have worked hard in that area.” Tomlin said, “It starts first with the acquisition of guys that are capable in that area. Can’t say enough about Minkah for example. The tear he is on is what it is; he needs no endorsement from me. But it is also our approach and who we work in the environmental element of our preparation. We just have to keep grinding.
Coach Tomlin says it always takes mental and physical strength to seal the deal. “…today we played, and I thought they played and played to win without fear. When you are playing a good opponent like the L.A. Rams, that is how you have to play. Thankfully, we are able to get a victory.”
Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald returned to his hometown Pittsburgh to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 10, 2019. (Brian Cook / Golden Sky Media)
On the other side of the ball, former University of Pittsburgh defensive end Aaron Donald, now defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams is a native of Pittsburgh. He mentioned how it was a nice homecoming for both he and the people who watched him grow into the player he is today. “This is home. To be back at Heinz Field — where I played 4-years here in college [University of Pittsburgh] — to be back here performing and to back here at home with my family watching, family and friends, it’s a good feeling.”
Donald was instrumental on defense, recording a half sack along with linebacker Clay Matthews which resulted in a safety. Despite his performance, Donald expressed his disappointment as his team came up short.
“I feel like we played well as a defense. We scored points, made turnovers, and made big stops,” Donald said. “There is always room for improvement, but I felt like overall I was proud of how the defense played today.” – Aaron Donald
The Steelers, however are on a short week and travel to face the Cleveland Browns — for the first of two matchups this season on Thursday night. The Browns defeated the Bills Sunday with a record of 3-6 and are in 3rd place in the AFC North behind the Steelers who are in 2nd with a record of 5-4. The Ravens are currently leading the division — 2 games ahead of Pittsburgh — at 7-2.