“That was a play Troy Polamalu would have made.”
That was the thought of Steelers fans who watched new Pittsburgh starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick turn Sunday’s home game against the Colts on its head. With the visiting Colts threatening to run away with the game early, Fitzpatrick jumped in front of Brian Hoyer’s pass and returned it 96 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown.
The pick, Fitzpatrick’s third in six days and fourth since joining the Steelers two weeks into the regular season, helped Pittsburgh rally to win their third straight game and fourth game since trading next year’s first round pick to the Dolphins. Speaking of the Dolphins, it was Fitzpatrick’s two interceptions that made the difference in Pittsburgh’s come-from-behind victory over Miami in Week 8.
In fact, Fitzpatrick’s presence has helped make the Steelers relevant at the midway point in the regular season when their season appeared all but over after Ben Roethlisberger sustained a season-ending injury two weeks into the year. But just hours after it was determined that Big Ben’s elbow injury would be a season-ender, the Steelers sent shockwaves across the NFL after trading for Fitzpatrick, who, for various reasons, wanted a fresh start with a new team a year after being the 11th overall pick in the draft.
While the trade was debated by fans and media members alike, Bill Cowher, who won a Super Bowl near the tail end of his 15-year run as the Steelers’ head coach, immediately saw what Pittsburgh was trying to do.