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Steelers RB Exploits Little Known Rule to Make Spectacular Play



Steelers RB Godwin Igwebuike
Steelers RB Godwin Igwebuike against the Arizona Cardinals, Dec. 3, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

BALTIMORE — Godwin Igwebuike has been solid but has not done anything on kick returns that would pop out. That was until Saturday, when Igwebuike took advantage of one of the NFL’s most significant loopholes. Popularized by the Green Bay Packers in the 2010s, Igwebuike saw the kick dribble near the sideline, stepped out of bounds, and then touched it, causing an illegal kick out-of-bounds penalty and giving the Steelers great field position at the 40-yard line.

Igwebuike knew exactly what he was doing at that point. Credit to him. He got a nod and handshake from Mike Tomlin, too.

“It goes back to practice, when I started working on kickoff returns a few years ago, it’s one of those things you just remember,” Igwebuike said. “Like, if this ever happens, you better be ready. You put it in the back of your mind, and I saw it dribbling over there, and I said,’ Is this my time and the moment I’ve been waiting for?’ So, I stepped out of bounds and I trusted that I knew what I was doing.”

It did not turn into points, and Igwebuike wishes it did, but that’s the type of heads-up plays that good teams make. It’s the little things. Special teams were not good for the Steelers all day, either, but Igwebuike and Calvin Austin III as returners have found quite a nice niche to work into throughout the season.

Igwebuike, a midseason add, looks to be one of the guys who can come back as part of the building process for Omar Khan’s team. With plays like this one, he continues to earn those stripes and make plays across the board. That’s all thanks to his headiness and tape study.

From a team that often has fallen short in the coaching category, this was fantastic coaching from Danny Smith to make sure that Igwebuike was prepared in this moment, and he cashed in on it.