It could've been T.J. Watt. Or Minkah Fitzpatrick. Or Cam Heyward. Or Chris Boswell. But just as the key to real estate is location, location, location, the key to coming out on top in a game that was must-win in every sense except the mathematical is timing. Joe Haden didn't make as many tackles as most of his teammates on defense, nor was he in the middle of as much of the action as some of his fellow defensive backs, but when the Steelers absolutely, positively had to have somebody step up and make a play, Joe Haden stepped up and made it.
On a fourth-and-7 from the Pittsburgh 16-yard line with 46 seconds remaining and the Titans needing a touchdown to erase what was a 19-13 Steelers lead at the time, Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill dumped the ball over the middle to wide receiver Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, who turned upfield and made a beeline for the first down marker. Shortly after, Westbrook-Ikhine was met by Haden in the open field. And when 6-foot-2, 211 pounds of receiver crashed into 5-foot-11, 195 pounds of cornerback, the smaller guy came up bigger.
Haden made the tackle short of the line to gain, the play held up under review, the Steelers took over the ball on downs, Ben Roethlisberger took a knee, and Pittsburgh had a necessary 19-13 victory over the Titans on Sunday at Heinz Field. And Haden, who finished with two tackles, one of which ended the game, and a fumble recovery that led to one of the Steelers four second-half field goals, is the Steelers Digest Player of the Week.
Also considered was T.J. Watt, who finished with five tackles, 1.5 sacks to up his total so far in 2021 to 17.5 and break James Harrison's single-season franchise record of 16, plus three hits on the quarterback, and a fumble recovery; Minkah Fitzpatrick, who led the team with 14 tackles and recovered a fumble; Chris Boswell, who was 4-for-5 on field goals, including 3-for-3 in the fourth quarter when the Steelers went from a 13-10 deficit to a 19-13 lead; Joe Schobert, who had seven tackles, and an interception; Terrell Edmunds, who had 10 tackles, including two for loss; and Derrick Tuszka, who had three tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.