Joe Haden understands how it looks

  • Spend an afternoon keeping the NFL's leading wide receiver in check and you're bound to get all the credit.Yet the veteran Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback understands he didn't exactly shut down Atlanta's Julio Jones during a dominant 41-17 win on Sunday all by himself.The Steelers sometimes had two — and on occasion three — bodies around Jones. And a resurgent pass rush forced Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to spend a significant portion of the afternoon under heavy duress."They weren't running ," Haden said. "The D-line controlled things. They controlled the front and then they got the sacks. That's helping me out too big time. I just love when the D-line is able to get that type of pressure."So do the rest of the Steelers (2-2-1), who for the first time this season looked like the group that led the NFL and set a franchise record with 57 sacks in 2017. T.J. Watt took down Ryan three times.Defensive tackle Cam Heyward picked up a sack and split another with linebacker Jon Bostic. Even reserve linebacker L.J. Fort got in on things, collecting the third sack of his six-year career and later falling on Ryan's fumble in the end zone to put the finishing touches on Pittsburgh's most complete performance of the year.Though Heyward downplayed the idea his team was desperate, he admitted there was a sense of urgency after the Steelers spent the first month of the season getting pushed around.The Steelers walked onto the steamy Heinz Field turf ranked 30th in total defense. Facing the high-powered Falcons, Pittsburgh responded by restoring a bit of normalcy by getting back to basics. They blitzed from all over. They disguised their coverages and then turned to Haden to put the clamps on Jones.The idea to have Haden shadow Jones came from coach Mike Tomlin, who broached the subject of having Haden follow Jones all over the field during the week. Haden welcomed the assignment, galvanized by the opportunity to take on one of the best in the business."He can do everything Atlanta Falcons T-Shirt ," Haden said. "He's big. Physical. Strong. He can catch. Vertical. Everything."At least until the first three quarters on Sunday, when Jones did nothing. Four times Ryan looked Jones' way over the first 45 minutes.Each time the play ended the same way: with the pass falling incomplete.By the time Jones finally did break through early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers were already up 17 and the game was effectively over."They had a good game plan for me today," Jones said.One Pittsburgh might want to repeat going forward. The Steelers travel to AFC North-leading Cincinnati (4-1) next week.Much like the Falcons, the Bengals and star wideout A.J. Green present their own unique challenge.The Steelers have dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning 9 of 10, including an ugly victory in Cincinnati last December that included several vicious shots on both sides and the possible end of Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier's career because of a spinal injury.Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been the same since Atlanta Falcons Hats , though the way the Steelers put it together against Atlanta offered a glimpse that perhaps things are starting to turn around.The communication issues in the secondary that plagued them in September largely vanished, at least for four quarters.And while Watt's three sacks boosted his season total to six — tying him with older brother J.J. of the Houston Texans and Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins for the most in the NFL — Watt was quick to praise Fort and Tyler Matakevich, who stepped in admirably with Vince Williams sidelined by a hamstring injury."I think we have so much confidence in them that we don't have any wavering opinion whether they are in the game or not," Watt said."So, I think they just do a great job, go about their business as if they are the starter each and every week, and it shows."Yet success has been fleeting. Pittsburgh thought it had figured some things out two weeks ago in Tampa Bay when it produced four turnovers in the second quarter to cool off the Buccaneers.Then Baltimore came to Heinz Field and controlled the second half on its way to a decisive victory.Whether Pittsburgh's play against Atlanta is a one-off or a sign of things to come is uncertain."Hopefully this performance can catapult us in the right direction Atlanta Falcons Hoodie , and start climbing the leaderboard of defenses and continue to win," Fort said.Falcons vs Saints: Who was the offensive player of the game? It was another big week for the Falcons offense, putting up an impressive 37 points against the Saints even if it was in a losing effort. In an effort like this, there are several strong candidates to choose from. Here are my picks and the reasons each of them deserves consideration.Calvin RidleyWith 7 catches for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns, Ridley absolutely gashed the Saints secondary. He saw lots of one-on-one match ups and he absolutely took advantage of them. It was an amazing breakout game for the first round draft pick and encouraging sign for what this offense can be in the coming years. Matt RyanThe franchise QB finished with a passer rating of 148.1, 374 yards passing and 5 passing touchdowns (with no interceptions). It was another fantastic performance that was only undermined by the 1-2 record the team dropped to on the season. Though Ridley clearly dominated, Ryan found 8 different targets during the game Cheap Customized Atlanta Falcons Jerseys , showing that he can orchestrate a deadly offense where shutting down one weapon just won’t cut it. Julio JonesIt’s amazing that 5 catches for 96 yards is a ho-hum day for the star receiver. Aside from the numbers, Julio’s presence was felt throughout the entire game as the Saints defense sold out to shut him down - thus opening opportunities for Ridley all afternoon. Even when he’s not dominating the catches and yards, Julio is still a major factor.Vote in our poll and let us know your pick: