By Jim Wexell
Posted Oct 25, 2009
The Steelers scored two defensive touchdowns to beat Brett Favre and the Vikings, 27-17. Keyaron Fox scored the game-clincher and became an unlikely hero.
PITTSBURGH – Never before had Keyaron Fox stood in the middle of a mob of reporters wearing only his jockstrap, because never before had the Steelers’ backup inside linebacker run 82 yards with a football in his hand.
“Whooooo,” Fox said. “I still haven’t caught my breath from that play.”
An injury replacement for Lawrence Timmons at one of the Steelers’ inside linebacker positions, Fox made the play that clinched a 27-17 win for the Steelers. His interception stopped a drive that appeared headed for the end zone and would’ve kept Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings undefeated.
The Vikings trailed the Steelers by only three points and were at the Steelers’ 19-yard line facing a 2nd-and-3 with 1:15 left to play. A tie had already been conceded by many of the fans at Heinz Field, but a touchdown and another total collapse by both the defense and the conservative offense was very possible.
As he had most of the day in running situations, Favre dropped back to pass, but this time he threw high to Chester Taylor. Brett Keisel hit Taylor just as the ball hit Taylor’s extended hands, and it bounced right to Fox.
“It really bounced out of nowhere,” Fox said. “Just being in the right place at the right time.”
And then Fox took off with nothing but Favre and a couple of blockers in front of him. Ryan Clark was one of those blockers.
“Brett was there, but he didn’t let me block him. He just kind of slid down next to me,” Clark said. “Foxy made that play himself. He didn’t need any of us to help him on that. He did a great job.”
Just as his teammate, LaMarr Woodley, had done seven minutes and 37 seconds of game time earlier, Fox took the turnover all the way to the end zone. His touchdown clinched the win for the Steelers and made Fox a hero with not only his first NFL interception, but the longest run at any level of his football career.
“Keyaron is a guy who’s really on the come,” Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said of the 6-year veteran. “He’s in his second year on our football team, so he has a clean understanding of defensive schemes and how he fits into the big picture. He’s a quality football player. He’s a low-maintenance guy. He’s always willing to ante up and kick in given the opportunity. He’s done so at the beginning of the year and again today.”
In the locker room, the winded Fox was asked if he now has a better appreciation for James Harrison’s long return in the last Super Bowl. “Mine was 82 yards. I couldn’t see 100,” Fox said. “I don’t think I could’ve taken another step on that.”
When Fox did get to the end zone, the first person he saw was one of his blocking escorts, rookie lineman Ziggy Hood.
“Ziggy came out of nowhere as I was bending down, catching my breath,” Fox said. “He got under me, looked me in the eyes, and said, ‘Yeah. That’ll do it.’”
Yeah. It did.
I have loved watchin' this kid play since he first came to us. Wasn't hard to see that he had somethin' special.