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Arthur Moats emerges as defensive threat for Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers v Carolina Panthers

 

When the Pittsburgh Steelers signed linebacker Arthur Moats as a free agent after he played his first four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, many expected he’d be used to guide rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier to a starting role.  After drafting Jarvis Jones and Shazier in back-to-back drafts (first-rounders), the Steelers looked to be a team that would be younger.  While Moats is no old man, his emergence over the past few weeks due to injuries to Shazier and Jones in the linebacker corps has shown that he still has plenty in the gas tank.

Against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night, Moats had a big effect on defense.  Not only was he responsible for stripping Lorenzo Taliaferro of the ball, forcing a fumble recovery by the Steelers defense, but he had three tackles and kept Flacco less focused on his receivers than what the Steelers defense was throwing at him.

For the season, Moats has only started six games, played in nine, but has 14 solo tackles (11 assists) and two sacks.

According to Mark Kaboly of the Post-Gazette, Hall of Famer Joe Greene offered the advice to the Steelers to “play Steeler football.”

The Steelers have always been known for building a defense that hinged on outside linebackers who could rush the passer and inside linebackers who were versatile and agile.  It appeared to be just a matter of time before the Steelers linebackers had a monumental game.  On Sunday night, Moats was a key to making the Steelers defense, especially the linebackers, resemble the type of defense people have respected Pittsburgh for.

Jason Worilds intercepted Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, returning it for 30 yards and setting up a Steelers TD.  Lawrence Timmons recorded 11 tackles, a tackle for a loss, two quarterback hits and a sack.  James Harrison fresh from retirement looked reborn by adding two sacks, seven tackles and four quarterback hits.

“We wanted to put pressure on Flacco and make him uncomfortable,” Harrison said.  “There still are a lot of things that we need to clean up.”

In July, Moats was still learning Dick LeBeau’s system.  He said, “I am happy to put the pads on.  As a football player that is what you live for, especially when you are playing in the trenches.”

Trench warfare was a huge part of beating the Ravens.  With Shazier having come back only to leave the game with an ankle injury, it wouldn’t be surprising to see more of Moats on the field with the defense this season.  While he still enjoys special teams, his emergence as a force on the defense has been welcome.

 

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