By Matthew Marczi
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Will Allen may have spent the past three seasons on the team, but he has only been there this year for a few weeks. He is not even a starter; in fact, he is a dime back.
So if we are writing about him for a second consecutive week, that must mean that he is doing something to get noticed.
Of course, that comes with somewhat of a caveat. Due partially to injuries and partially to general changes in the league that require adaptation, the Steelers have been using six defensive backs often.
Even ‘often’ does not quite do it justice, however. In fact, the Steelers employ their quarters package not as their base package, but as their most prolific package.
Once again, Pittsburgh played nearly two-thirds of the game in the quarters package, with Allen logging 49 of 76 total snaps and starting inside linebacker Vince Williams playing just 23. More important though is that he made those snaps count.
The Cleveland Browns started off the third quarter with the ball, but thanks to Allen, they were forced to go three and out. On third and five, he followed Greg Little across the middle of the field and brought him down just shy of the first down to force the Browns to punt it away..
Later in the quarter, on the Browns’ second drive of the half, Allen was in coverage on wide receiver Davone Bess, who received the screen pass behind the line of scrimmage. Allen, playing in a shallow zone, broke on the play as soon as the ball was in the air. As he went for the tackle, he nearly stripped the ball out, but none the less still managed to bring him down after a short gain of three.
Just two plays later, he was running down the sideline for 49 yards with the ball in his hands. On third and seven, Dick LeBeau sent both Allen and William Gay on a blitz off the left side of the offense, putting running back Chris Ogbonnya right on the horns of a dilemma. Allen made the decision for him, crashing into the running back and knocking him off-balance as Gay hit the quarterback and knocked the ball loose.
Because of the way the play unfolded, Allen was left in the middle of the skirmish with the ball at his feet. He quickly picked it up and returned it all the way to the four-yard line before he was finally brought down by the running back he’d just so rudely introduced himself to.