Boykin finding ways to make plays

Here is a look at the statistical leaders for the both the Steelers and Browns heading into the Week 17 contest at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Anthony Chickillo's sack of Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett was significant if not spectacular.

"I got in the backfield and was able to get my hands on the quarterback and that's it, I guess," Boykin assessed. "Not really much detail went into it.

"I felt like a real defensive end. I should have hit a spin move to make it official."

Boykin settled for shoving running back Javorius Allen out of the way with one hand and dragging Mallett down with the other.

The play wasn't enough to get the Steelers out of Baltimore with a victory. But it checked another statistical box for Boykin, who became the seventh member of the Steelers' defense to register a sack, an interception and a pass-defensed this season.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier (3.5 sacks/1 interception/6 passes defensed), linebacker Ryan Shazier (3/1/4), safety Robert Golden (3/1/7), cornerback William Gay (1/1/6), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (4.5/1/1) linebacker Ryan Shazier (2/1/2) and Boykin (1/1/5) have all made splash plays at both ends of the passing game.

And such contributions have helped the Steelers' defense up the ante from last season's totals in all three categories heading into Sunday's regular-season finale at Cleveland.

The Steelers have 41 sacks this season (up from 33 last season), 15 interceptions (up from 11) and 69 passes defensed (up from 59).

Boykin has progressed from spare part at the outset of the season (he played zero defensive snaps on Sept. 10 at New England) to regular contributor (61 defensive snaps, 81 percent, against the Ravens) since being acquired from Philadelphia in a trade during training camp.

"He got the experience over the length of the year in terms of what we're doing defensively," defensive coordinator Keith Butler said. "It took him a little while to learn what we're doing but he's getting a good handle on it now."

It took longer than Boykin anticipated, but he never stopped working to make sure he was prepared in the event an opportunity arose.

"I try to find the positive in everything," he said. "I learned a lot this year about myself, about just controlling what I can control. The way everything played out, when I got my opportunity I made the most of it. I'm just trying to capitalize on that every single game."

The Browns game offers another opportunity to keep padding the stats, but more important than any of that is the opportunity to keep playing in the postseason, an opportunity that won't be available to the Steelers if they don't win in Cleveland.

"Hopefully I can get another sack, another pick, more pass break-ups, more tackles, make an impact and go out there and make plays," Boykin said. "That's what I pride myself on doing.

"I feel like I've been coming on strong these last couple games but none of that stuff is really important right now. I'm trying to focus on getting to the playoffs even though it's kind of out of our hands. We have to win this game and see what happens. But I'm confident good things will happen for me specifically if I just continue to do what I do."

Should Boykin add another sack in Cleveland, it might be more celebrated than his first sack with the Steelers and the second of his career turned out to be during the team's review of the Ravens game.

"They complemented me, but when you watch the film on Monday and we don't win it's not as pleasant as it would have been," Boykin said. "We have to go out and take care of business and all the stats and things like that will be more fun if we do what we're supposed to do."

Questionable - WR Martavis Bryant (illness), CB Doran Grant (groin)
Probable - S Will Allen (not injury related), CB Robert Golden (back), CB William Gay (not injury related), LB William Gay (illness), TE Ben Roethlisberger (not injury related), S Michael Mitchell (shoulder), QB Ben Roethlisberger (illness), LB Ryan Shazier (not injury related), TE Martavis Bryant (not injury related)

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