Week 14 Steelers vs Cardinals Postgame Commentary: The Diontae Johnson

Photo: Ric Tapia /Pittsburgh Steelers

It seems that each week, a new player emerges and plays big when it matters. By all accounts, this was a game that the Pittsburgh Steelers made harder than it should. Then again, we need to always keep in mind that Arizona has a quarterback who has all the requisite attributes to be elite someday. In addition, they continue to play each week with a fourth string quarterback while dealing with injured starters.

In this game, there were several standout players. Bud Dupree, who has been broken out in a big way in 2019, collected two sacks and was a force all game long. Veteran cornerback Joe Haden came up with two interceptions, one which sealed the game; this marks the second week in which he has come up big with the game on the line. Yet this game was about one player, an undersized receiver that is arguably the Steelers most valuable rookie Diontae Johnson.

When you think about it, the Steelers have made it a tradition for the last decade in finding hidden gems at the receiver position. Johnson is one of those gems that could someday find himself among the best receivers in franchise history, if he continues on this path.

For much of the season, he has played with the poise of a veteran, while making expected rookie mistakes. In today was Johnson's finest as accounted for 12 of the Steelers 23 points. His first was an 85-yard punt return, only the fourth this season in the NFL. The second was an end zone reception that displayed his body control and ball skills. When his number was called to move the chains, Johnson was delivered each time.

With the Steelers missing important starters such as Juju Smith-Schuster and James Conner, players like Johnson has been essential to carrying the weight of an offense that continues to struggle at points, but grow each week. For the Steelers firmly locked in a wild card spot, it is players like Johnson will be needed to potentially clinch a playoff spot.

As for Johnson, he continues to show each weeks that size does not dictate success, rather a player's ability to rise above it. Johnson continues to do so on a weekly basis and the Steelers continue to benefit from his continuous growth

© 2020 Black and Gold Nation.