Pittsburgh Steelers: Studs and duds vs. Rams in Week 10

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns a fumble for a 43 yard touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field on November 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 10: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns a fumble for a 43 yard touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field on November 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 10: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns a fumble for a 43 yard touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field on November 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 10: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers returns a fumble for a 43 yard touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Heinz Field on November 10, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

Stud: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S

Late in the second quarter, Hargrave landed a hard hit on Goff that popped the football forward. While some players thought Goff’s arm was moving forward when the ball came free, Fitzpatrick picked it up and returned the fumble for Pittsburgh’s second score of the game.

Since joining the Steelers, the second-year safety has five interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He’s on his way to the first Pro Bowl of his career. When the time comes, the Steelers will give Fitzpatrick the massive contract he deserves, but the safety’s rookie deal runs for another three seasons.

Fitzpatrick’s performance has eliminated any debate over whether the Steelers made the right move when they traded a 2020 first-round pick for the Alabama product. The team could never hope to draft a defensive back like Fitzpatrick in the first-round. After all, the Steelers have looked for their man several times since Troy Polamalu retired, and whiffed every time.

Dud: The run game

Just throw everyone in this category. Put in James Conner, Trey Edmunds, Jaylen Samuels and the offensive line. They’re all partly responsible for Pittsburgh’s ground attack failures this season. Now, a team that is traditionally known for smash-mouth football, can’t even grind out 100 yards a game.

I suppose placing blame on Conner for Pittsburgh’s shortcomings against the Rams isn’t fair considering he missed the game. However, that doesn’t mean he’s free from criticism for his other mediocre performances. Samuels especially isn’t getting a free pass. While he’s flashed potential at times during his career, Samuels lacks consistency.

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Finally, how is the offensive line so bad at run blocking? Considering all of the money invested in the line’s three Pro Bowlers, the team has no excuse for being toward the bottom of the NFL in rushing. The team also has a good blocking tight end in Vance McDonald. With that many good blockers, the Steelers should at least have a top-sixteen rushing attack.