If you think Minkah Fitzpatrick played no role in the recent Pittsburgh Steelers‘ win over the New Orleans Saints, think again.
“(Minkah) gave me some black socks and I think that’s why I got an interception,” said Damontae Kazee after the game.
Kazee himself explained he was as shocked as Steelers fans when the news dropped on Fitzpatrick being ruled out for the game. For him, that meant an immediate promotion.
In a matter of days, he went from last-minute activation to the roster to role player on defense to the starter in place of one of the best players in the NFL.
But the veteran safety didn’t let the circumstances get the best of him. Instead, he thrived in his first regular season game as a Steeler after being away due to a forearm injury suffered in August.
Kazee was so good on Sunday that he earned the fourth-highest PFF grade on the Steelers’ defense and the best one among the team’s defensive backs.
He finished the day with three tackles and one interception.
The pick came on third-and-five as Pittsburgh led by three. Kazee played a deep zone on his half of the field and was in the right place at the right time to get the interception on a tip-drill after Jarvis Landry failed to come down with the catch.
The Steelers capitalized on Kazee’s fourth-quarter interception as the drive resulted in a touchdown by the offense.
Kazee was also in the middle of a controversy after he delivered a big hit on Chris Olave. After the game, the Steelers’ safety insisted his head didn’t make contact with the Saints’ receiver.
But you just can’t be upset about the refs flagging him in that particular play. Any time your feet leave the ground as a receiver is in the air, they’ll call the penalty. However, you can also see where Kazee is coming from.
Albeit unfortunate, the play itself speaks volumes as to Kazee’s physical style of play.
With Fitzpatrick expected to miss multiple weeks after undergoing an appendectomy, Kazee’s serviceable play is welcome with open arms.
Featured image via Michael Longo/For USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK