Trade Acquisitions Make An Impact In Losing Effort To Bears

The Pittsburgh Steelers made some uncharacteristic personnel moves late in the preseason this year when they made not one, but two trades for talent from other rosters, players who have starting experience and have value. They acquired tight end Vance McDonald from the 49ers, and then added safety J.J. Wilcox from the Buccaneers the day after final roster cuts.

Neither of them had an overwhelmingly positive first couple of weeks with the team, as McDonald was best-known in the season opener for failing to hang on to an early third-down pass and drawing a holding penalty, while Wilcox concussed himself on a hit at the goal line late that didn’t even prevent a score.

Both of them ended up being forced to sit out the second game of the season, Wilcox in the concussion protocol and McDonald dealing with a back ailment, but the pair returned for yesterday’s game, and each of them had an important part to play in the tale of the game.

In fact, had the Steelers actually managed to win the game, the roles that some of the newest faces on the Steelers’ roster played would have served a critical function in allowing that to happen.

McDonald’s part in the play was brief, but arguably the most high-profile moment of the entire game, occurring just at the end of the first half. Serving as the right wing protection on the field goal unit, the tight end was responsible for preventing the Bears from scoring a touchdown after they blocked the kick and returned it to the one-yard line.

It was returned to the one because McDonald was able to chase the returner down at that point when he slowed down. He stripped the ball out and ultimately the Bears had to settle for a field goal rather than a touchdown, providing a four-point swing.

As for Wilcox, who rotated in at safety with Mike Mitchell, he was able to intercept a Mike Glennon pass six minutes into the fourth quarter that provided the offense the ball at the Bears’ 21-yard line. Unfortunately, they only advanced the ball seven yards and were forced to kick a field goal.

One might say that the combined impact of these two players then provided the Steelers with a net plus seven-point swing, with McDonald’s touchdown-saving strip adding four points and Wilcox’s field position off the turnover netting three.

Of course, in the end, the Steelers squandered these and other chances and ultimately lost the game in stressful fashion, with Chicago rattling off three consecutive long runs on the opening possession of overtime, culminating in the walk-off touchdown.

These contributions do not necessarily indicate the sort of impact that McDonald and Wilcox are going to provide going forward, but honestly, at least it was something. These are players the team actively sought to acquire, and they did make a difference, albeit a fruitless one this time.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Nathanael Dory

    Whats happening to Sean Davis? the guy is not around the ball at all. Since week one I havent heard his name making plays.

  • John Hinton

    If not for an unfortunate bounce near the end of regulation, Wilcox would have recorded his second TO of the game. So close!

  • pkeats86

    He was out basically the whole game yesterday. As for the first couple of game, he has definitely been there.

  • stan

    He also tried to scoop the ball instead of falling on it.

  • Steve Johnson

    I would be more concerned about the injury to Sean Davis. I’m concerned about the lack of quality play from Mike Mitchell.

  • RMSteeler

    Yeah, that high powered offense couldn’t score when spotted the 21. I don’t count FG’s when you’re gifted that spot and have supposedly the best RB and WR in the game.

  • LucasY59

    Missed tackle Mitchell

  • NW86

    I honestly have no idea what the safety position is going to look like going forward. I do think Wilcox was a good pickup, and if Davis misses next week due to injury and Wilcox has a good game in his place, Wilcox could find himself starting at either safety position the second half of the season.

  • John Hinton


  • Mr jack

    Big Ben needs to pick his play up,he is not playing good Qb play at the moment.When Ben starts to play better the offense will play better.

  • BlackAndGold97

    Sean Davis has been missing in action and then went out of the game with an injury. He was supposed to have a breakout year, definitely not the case yet. And Mike Mitchell is awful at taking angles. Our Safeties were supposed to be a bright spot, not so far.

  • Dewayne Braxton

    We are only three games into the season, so it is a bit early to judge performances. However, based on the first two games the whole defense improved. Some credit has to be given to the safeties for improved tacking and pass defense -especially the deep ball. As for the Bears game, the whole defense stunk. In particular the front seven got dominated. Linebackers failed to contain their gaps and overran numerous plays. And even though the safeties played poorly too, they did get a turn over and made several tackles that prevented big plays.

  • Rotten Sircus

    Anybody else seeing Mike Mitchell miss these tackles ?? ? cause I do & it’s starting to p!ss me off !!! He looks for the kill shot WAY to often & if he can’t deliver the shot he ends up looking at the players name on the back of his jersey

  • jsteeler

    Ben seems to be done. Looks old, Slow and washed up. 22-39 against an avg defense is not promising for this year. I was there. Threw a 100 MPH fastball to Bell 2 yards away. If he plays like this Sunday the Ravens will have 5 picks. Too many weapons for them to go to waste. The pizza and beer were great after the game.

  • Pack

    I disagree mike had plenty of great run stopping tackles in the first half look st the bears second drive I think the second play he comes down from the safety position and gets a tackle behind the line. Had a nice touchdown saving ankle tackle now it was an ankle because he took a bad angle but he still saved the touchdown. I think he made more plays then he missed.

  • Mr jack

    I hate to say this but I think you may be correct.I have been trying to lie to my self since the last of last year but watching sunday was a real eye opener.