Hard Hat Award (Game # 15, vs. St. Louis)
Stillers RB Rashard Mendenhall and WR/kick returner Antonio Brown are the co-winner of the weekly Hard Hat Award, given to the Stiller player who best embodies the iron-tough, hard-as-steel attitude of the steel workers inside the blast furnace of a still mill.
Running with reckless abandon, Mendy had his best game of the season. The hard running started early on, mixed with a good RAC for 35 yards on the 2nd play of game for the offense. Mendy had a superb 52-yard cut-back run in the 2Q, and a good TD plunge in the 4Q. Overall, Mendy had 118 yards on 18 carries.
Brown had limited numbers in this game, with 3 grabs for 34 yards, 1 KO return for 30, and 1 punt return for 8. But it was the play he made as a tackler, of all things, that earned him the admiration of The Committee. In the 2Q of a tight, 3-0 ballgame, the Rams tried a fake punt in which the punter had 3 seconds to scan the field while in the �pocket�. The punter then took off running to his right, and had an alley about 28 feet wide to run. Luckily for the Stillers, Tonio Brown had the sense to see this from 40 yards down the field, and then have the wits and quickness to flash up from his punt-receiving spot and chop-tackle the punter about 2 feet from the 1D marker. A simply remarkable, heads-up play by a man who rarely, if ever, is making tackles at this level of pro football.
Numerous other Stillers were in consideration for the coveted weekly award. Troy Pola had a strong game, delivering plenty of strong tackles and busting up a couple passes. Chuck Batch had a gritty, solid effort as the starting QB. The beat-up O-line had a good effort, led by Trai Essex, who moved from LG to C when Leggo was injured early in the game. Suisham booted a clutch 49-yard FG. And Jamie Harrison was a force all game long. It bears repeating that there is almost always -- if not always -- a strong correlation between the number of players in consideration for the Hard Hat, and if the team won or lost. Simply put, Hard Hat kind of football leads to victory; pansy football (a term used here long before Troy Pola popularized it) leads to defeat.
Kudos to Mendenhall and Brown for winning the Hard Hat Award. Wear the Hard Hat proudly, fellas!
Previous 2011 Hard Hat Winners:
Game # 14, @ San Fran: No One
Game #13, vs. Clev: Ben Roethlisberger and James Harrison
Game #12, vs. Cinci: Antonio Brown and Curtis Brown
Game #11, @ KC: Jason Worilds
Game #10, @ Cinci: William Gay
Game #9, vs. Balt: James Harrison and Max Starks
Game #8, vs. N.E.: Heath Miller and Ike Taylor
Game #7, @ Ariz: Antonio Brown
Game #6, vs. Jax: Troy Polamalu
Game #5, vs. Tenn: Ben Roethlisberger and Max Starks
Game #4, @ Houston: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu
Game #3, @ Indy: James Harrison and Troy Polamalu
Game #2, vs. Seattle: Mike Wallace and Troy Polamalu
Game #1, @ Balt: No One