While many former Maryland football stars won’t be playing in the NFL playoffs, a pair of former Terrapins will be tasting the postseason.
Safety Sean Davis and wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey are set to participate in the playoffs for the Pittsburgh Steelers beginning next weekend.
The Steelers will host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday after winning the AFC North with an 11-5 record. Pittsburgh finished off the regular season with wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.
The former Maryland football duo had very different roles on their respective sides of the ball. However, both had a hand in the success of the Steelers in 2016.
Pittsburgh’s secondary was an issue heading into this past offseason. The Steelers ended up addressing the need early in the 2016 NFL Draft when they selected Miami (Fla.) cornerback Artie Burns and Davis in the first two rounds.
Davis ended up starting nine games this season and finished fourth on the team in tackles (70). The former Maryland star also registered five defended passes, 1.5 sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery for the Steelers.
The biggest reason for Davis’ success was his constant improvement throughout the season. The former Terp has impressive instincts that allow him to defend the run and the screen game at an extremely high level.
In fact, over the final eight games, Davis registered at least five tackles in seven of those contests. His most productive game came this past Sunday when he registered nine tackles in addition to his first career full sack and fumble recovery against the Browns.
On the other hand, Heyward-Bey didn’t receive quite the same amount of playing time.
The former first round pick caught just six passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Heyward-Bey also carried the ball just one time for a 60-yard touchdown.
Heyward-Bey missed six games with a foot injury from Weeks 9-15. The former Terp caught a 46-yard pass this past Sunday.
Despite approaching age 30, Heyward-Bey still relies on his speed to make a great deal of his plays possible.
For example, the Silver Spring (Md.) native took the pitch on a reverse against the Miami Dolphins. Heyward-Bey was able to accelerate and shoot right through the hole for a 60-yard touchdown.
Heyward-Bey was also able to catch touchdown passes against the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.
The pair of Terps are both healthy heading into the postseason. Pittsburgh definitely has relied on Davis to be a big-time producer in a secondary that desperately needs him.
Except for DMV football fans that are partial to the Ravens, most Maryland football fans may be rooting for the Steelers this postseason.