The Pittsburgh Steelers may not play today, but that doesn’t mean you get the day off. We’ve got some film yet to break down, and today’s subject Joe Haden, who has really helped to solidify this secondary into something that has the potential to compete against top talents, though the real test awaits.
There are a lot of plays to get through today, so I won’t spend much time previewing what we’re going to get into. The first play I want to look at comes early on, a simple short right pass to T.J. Jones. At least, it looks simple in the game chart. It was actually about a four-second throw on a deep hook and come-back. Jones broke 15 yards down the field and came back in nearly 10 yards to back Haden off. Stafford is lucky he had the time to throw this one.
Early in the second quarter, Haden was lined up across from Marvin Jones. This is no doubt one of the plays you’ve seen a few times, on which the cornerback bit on a slant-and-go that, really, under slightly better circumstances could have been six points.
A credit to him as a veteran is that he plays with a short memory, and just a couple of snaps later, he was plastered on Jones targeted on a go route from about 20 yards out into the deep part of the end zone, well-defended.
Toward the end of the half, though, the veteran receiver got his again, once again selling the deep route well before breaking down inside, this time staying inside for an 18-yard reception. The play was challenged to determine if he really caught this, and they ruled that he did.
Still in the late second, Matthew Stafford went back to Jones once again on third and 10 from inside the red zone. Yet again it was a straight-ahead shot into the end zone, but Haden was in great position to defend it, keeping Detroit out of the end zone.
The Lions were back on the cusp of scoring early in the fourth quarter, and Stafford was forced into a scramble drill. He ultimately looked for his tight end, Eric Ebron, but Haden didn’t lose sight of him, picking him up and forcing Stafford to throw wide.
Although the play didn’t count, as the Lions knew they would be getting a free play with the Steelers having too many men on the field, Haden’s interception covering Jones down the field still deserves at least a look, no?
It’s pretty close to impossible to play a quarterback who throws as often as Stafford without giving up a reception or two, but overall, Haden definitely played well, and the Steelers will need him to keep it up in the second half of the year.