The Pittsburgh Steelers just earned their second win of the season over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium.
No, wait. Let me rephrase.
The Pittsburgh Steelers just earned their second win of the season over Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Acrisure Stadium.
“We’re not going to say too much because, like I said, there’s still [a lot of] work to do,” Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson said in the locker room after the game. “We got the win, and that’s all that matters right now.”
Johnson may not “say too much” about the win. He’s right. The team, at 2-4, still finds itself tied for last in the AFC North. That was a nice upset, but there’s work to be done for this Steelers squad. Best to remain quiet and get back to work on that front.
…but Johnson will say something about that opposing quarterback.
“It’s big playing against Brady,” Johnson said. “One of the best to ever play the position in my opinion. Just winning against him is special, because knowing Brady, you don’t want to give him that much time left knowing what he can do.
“You’ve seen what he can do over the years. And just us being able to close out the game is special.”
You deserve a little more here, dear reader. That quote is fun. But you gotta see exactly how giddy it made Johnson:
That feeling was mutual across the board inside the Steelers’ locker room.
Whether on offense or defense, these Steelers recognized what they just did. It wasn’t just about earning the upset victory at home.
It was about defeating Tom freaking Brady.
“It’s always special beating Brady,” Jack said. “I don’t care what anyone says, it’s a good feeling, man. That’s the GOAT. I’ll tell my kids I played him.”
Here’s where things get extra crazy with the whole Steelers-gushing-over-beating-Brady narrative.
After the game, I asked wide receiver Chase Claypool an open-ended question. Didn’t mention Brady’s name at all:
You made your presence known out there today. What were you feeling?
“Hmm, excitement, you know?” Claypool began.
Then he said it.
“It’s so cool playing against Tom –– not that I did it for him or anything, but it’s that extra little bit that kinda gets you pumped up maybe a little bit more than normal.”
Insane. Simply playing on the same field on the same day as Brady marked a highlight for Claypool in this one.
But he didn’t actually face the seven-time Super Bowl winner.
Malik Reed and Alex Highsmith did, though.
In fact, they enjoyed the task of, you know, hitting Brady and making his day miserable as the Steelers’ two primary edge rushers.
To that end, they succeeded.
Reed helped out Cam Heyward in bringing No. 12 to the ground, and Highsmith tallied a strip-sack of his own.
Cam Heyward and Malik Reed combine for the red zone sack!
Another stop for this D 😤 pic.twitter.com/Qdz8UgIfXf
— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) October 16, 2022
You better believe they both enjoyed doing it against Brady.
“It’s always cool just going against a legend like him,” Highsmith said. “Respect to him. He’s one of the best if not the best to ever do it.”
That was a calculated answer. Professional.
Let’s turn the mic to Mr. Reed.
“He’s played for a long time –– and [has] been great at it, you know? He’s won championships,” Reed said. “A guy like that? You give respect to him, and we know that we have to be on top of our game coming into it. And I feel like, man, I’m proud of each and every man in this room, because I feel like we accepted that challenge.”
What about that particular moment up there in the video? How did it feel helping Heyward get Brady to the ground?
“Man, it was huge,” Reed said. “We knew that we were going to have to get after him, make him a little skittish back there, so to be able to get him on the ground, man, that’s huge.”
Reed actually faced Brady before: Week 3 of the 2020 season. It was Reed’s second year with the Denver Broncos, and Brady’s Buccaneers came to the Mile High City.
“But I actually got him on the ground this time,” Reed said.
Reed’s face after that line? It looked a lil’ something like this:
Toppling the GOAT has that effect.