We all knew that Pittsburgh Steelers rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave has been playing well these past two weeks since his playing time has increased due to injury ahead of him in the pecking order. He has recorded a sack in each of the past two games. but after watching him against the Colts—who admittedly don’t have a good offensive line, particularly up the middle—he shows some serious pass-rushing assets.
Not that he is all pass rush. In fact, he made one of the first plays of the game—after a sack for a loss of 10 yards on first down—to get the defense off the field in a hurry. Because of the sack, the Colts were already looking at third and 20, but Hargrave, once he swum over the left guard, who let him go in order to block for a screen, immediately broke off his rush to chase down the running back before the pass was even thrown. He twisted the back down for a loss of five yards. And I should probably point out that screens have killed the Steelers at times this year.
The Colts got off an extended drive the next time around, though it ended in a missed field goal. The Steelers had a chance to get off the field on the Colts’ side, facing a third and eight, and Hargrave almost made it happen. He bull rushed through the center and got a hit on the quarterback, but he was still able to complete a pass for 18 yards.
Late in the first half, with the ball near midfield, on second and 10, the rookie lined up in the 3-4 as a zero-tech, but off the snap, used exceptional hand usage and speed to penetrate the right-side A gap, forcing pressure that forced an incompletion. He had another play very similar to this, only there was a running back to pick him up, though his penetration allowed a linebacker to get pressure instead.
A roughing the passer on the previous play gave the Colts a new set of downs, so Hargrave helped the next series of plays get off to a bad start. Aligned as a slanted nose, he showed excellent awareness to navigate through a backside cut block to get in on a tackle for a loss of one.
On Indianapolis’ second offensive play of the second half, the rookie made another play against the run, this time setting up in the left-side B gap. The left tackle drove him down the field as he stayed with the runner and made the tackle after three yards, since he maintained inside leverage.
It was a few plays later, on second and long, that Hargrave picked up his sack. Here he set up as a five-tech on the left tackle’s outside shoulder, but quickly kicked inside and swam over the left guard’s inside shoulder. With the center picking him up, the rookie ripped the center’s arm up and penetrated the double block, showing off his speed and agility in making a diving tackle to bring the quarterback down.