‘Already Had That Game Plan In My Mind:’ Joey Porter Jr. Knew Browns Would Attack Him On Game-Sealing Breakup
Joey Porter Jr. might be a rookie but he knows the score. And he knows the situation. Fourth down, game on the line, and he’s on the field against the Cleveland Browns’ big-bodied receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones. Of course the Browns are going to go after him. But risk it at your own peril and Porter’s forced fourth-down incompletion sent the Steelers home as winners. Speaking to reporters af ter the Steelers’ 26-22 win via Steelers.com, Porter said he knew the ball was coming his way.
“I was,” he told reporters when asked if he expected the Browns to target him. “I was the young guy on the field, fourth and 10. There’s no better option but me, to try me. So shoot, I already had that game plan in my mind, and I was ready and prepared for that.”
Browns’ QB Deshaun Watson threw downfield on their final play, hoping to hit the 6-foot-2 Peoples-Jones. But Porter had tight man coverage, getting his hands on the receiver but not enough to draw a penalty, and Watson’s pass sailed out of bounds and incomplete.
Porter did well to be patient in his press-man alignment and pin the receiver to the sideline, cutting down the space he had to work with. Take a look at the play.
It was one of two key defensive stops Porter had on the day though this was obviously the most consequential. In the first half, he drove on the ball and broke up a third-down throw to the right sideline, though he wishes he could’ve done more than bat it away, lamenting the missed chance for the interception.
Porter worked hard at improving his hands throughout camp, working with equipment manager Lou Balde before practice and hitting the JUGS machine before and after the day ended. He’s still searching for that first pick in a regular-season game, but he has a way about making debuts. In the preseason, he nabbed his first pick and tonight, he had two great coverage reps in key moments.
With Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson struggling, some will ask for Porter to play more. That could be a conversation that comes into play sooner than Pittsburgh expected. Still, the Steelers will likely wait to make a change. Porter has primarily played left cornerback, meaning replacing Wallace on the right side would be an even tougher challenge, and the team knows Porter has rawness to his game outside of playing press-man coverage. Still, he will have a key role playing in dime packages in obvious pass situations. And it’s now on tape that going after the rookie won’t be a walk in the park. He might just end your game.