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Haden plays hero when Steelers needed one most

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Amidst controversy, miscommunication and inconsistency, the Steelers secondary has faced the brunt of criticism for the team's current woes during a brutal three-game losing streak. And then Sunday happened, and the entire narrative has changed.
The Steelers' defense responded in style by shutting down the Patriots for most of the game including on a potential game-tying drive by Tom Brady and the Patriots in the final two minutes of the game. Cornerback Joe Haden led the charge with a game-leading 12 tackles, two passes defended. 

He also turned in one of the key plays in the game with only 7:43 remaining. The Patriots trailed 14-10 but were in the midst of a ten-play drive that started at their 41-yard line after Duron Harmon picked off a Ben Roethlisberger pass. 

New England was facing second and goal from the 16-yard line. Stephon Tuitt forced Brady out of the pocket. He scrambled and threw it down the right sideline looking for a streaking Julian Edelman. Haden jumped the floating duck and picked it off inside the 4-yard line.

“We’ve been letting leads get away in the fourth quarter. We’ve been trying to find a way to get turnovers. We’ve been dropping ball that were hitting us in the face,” Haden said. “It felt good to make a play for the team.”

Haden described the play and how he tip-toed on the sidelines to get his feet in bounds. He thought it was one of the turning points of the game.

“When I saw the ball up in the air, I thought I had a chance to jump up and highpoint it,” Haden said. “I learned from A.B. (wide receiver Antonio Brown). He said ‘make your legs go numb’ so that’s what I did.”

He credited the entire secondary tightening up and trying to keep Brady from burning them throughout the game. The Patriots scored their only touchdown of the game in the first quarter when a blown coverage let Chris Hogan sprint down the sideline untouched for a 63-yard touchdown to tie the game. 

After that, the defense, especially the secondary, kept the Patriots out of the end zone. 

“We all stayed alert. Looked to the sideline to make sure we had the right personnel,” Haden said. “We blew the coverage on [The Patriots’] touchdown when three of us followed Josh [Gordon] on a route and left [Hogan] wide open.” 

Haden was injured in the Steelers’ controversial loss to New England last year. 

“Normally, these are two top teams in the division that always go against each other,” Haden said. “To beat them is definitely a good win for us.”
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