Lessons learned


Stephon Tuitt made his Steelers' debut last season in the Sept. 7 regular-season opener against Cleveland.

But the defensive end from Notre Dame didn't arrive until Week 16.

"When we played Kansas City I started feeling confidence in myself," last year's No. 2 pick explained. "I already had confidence in myself but my confidence started to rise.

"When I had a chance to hit Jamaal Charles and get the fumble out to help us win the game I was just doing my job and I understood the playbook. From that point on I was just playing football."

It was Tuitt's first and only forced fumble of the season but it was a big one.

The Steelers led the Chiefs, 10-6, but Kansas City faced a second-and-7 from the Pittsburgh 28-yard line with 6:37 left in the third quarter.

Quarterback Alex Smith dumped the ball to Charles, KC's do-everything back, but Tuitt's pursuit and hit knocked the ball loose.

Inside linebacker Vince Williams recovered and the Steelers responded with a touchdown drive for a 17-6 lead in what would eventually become a 20-12 victory that clinched a spot in the postseason for the Steelers.

"I can't remember the play, what it was, but I definitely had inside pressure," Tuitt recalled. "I came around, they threw a little dump pass to Jamaal Charles and you know how elusive he is. He got a chance to get away from a couple of guys but I chased him down and hit him from the back.

"I got up and I didn't even know he fumbled until I looked back and I saw (inside linebacker) Vince (Williams) picking up the ball."

The big play Tuitt created was significant.

But what really got Tuitt excited was that it resulted from his understanding what he was supposed to do, executing his assignment and then running to the football the way the coaches harp on the Steelers defenders to do each and every day in practice to finish the play.

Photos of the Steelers Defensive Line during the 2014 season.

That's the type of stuff that works on a consistent basis when applied with regularity and with passion.

"I just did my job," Tuitt said. "It felt good to understand that I knew what I had to do and I just played football.

"I saw everybody going berserk. I even went berserk after I realized he fumbled and I got a chance to give our offense the ball to score. We have a dynamic offense and as many times as we can give our offense the ball, it's going to be great for us."

Tuitt will be looking for more of the same this season now that he has a grasp of his responsibilities and the necessary techniques as well as his physical capabilities.

"I'm not going to guarantee anything," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and work hard and we're going to see from there."

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