Four downs: Mitchell's impressive streak ends, Moats team's new No. 2 iron man
1. IRON (STEEL) MEN
When Mike Mitchell couldn't play last week because of a hamstring injury, it was the first game he had missed since joining the Steelers in 2014. It ended a consecutive games played streak at 66 (dating to 2013 with Carolina), the second longest among NFL safeties. Mitchell's streak, though, paled in comparison to that of teammate William Gay. The cornerback has not missed a game since being part of Mike Tomlin's first draft in 2007.
But with Mitchell's off day, who's No. 2 among iron men on the Steelers? Arthur Moats, who's tied for fourth among NFL linebackers in consecutive games played at 68. Moats has played in all 58 games the Steelers have played since he signed with the team in 2014. He joins Gay and linebacker Vince Williams as the only players who haven't missed a game for the Steelers since then.
Antonio Brown comes close: the lone regular-season game he has missed since 2012 was the meaningless finale last season. He also missed the playoff game at Denver in January 2016 because of a concussion.
2. UP THE CHARTS?
Speaking of Steelers records for service time … James Harrison sitting out last week at Baltimore — as well as not getting on the field Sept. 17 vs. Minnesota — has slowed his ascent of the top 10 on the all-time games-played list for the organization. Harrison sits at 174 (plus 15 for Cincinnati in 2013). He will need to play in 11 of the 12 games left this season to pass Dermonti Dawson (184) for seventh in team history. Others whom Harrison could surpass over the next three months include Deshea Townsend (183), Ray Mansfield (182), Joe Greene (181) and David Little (179) — the latter would make him the all-time leader in games played by a linebacker for a franchise associated with the position.
3. QUICK SPLASHES
A matchup to watch Sunday is left tackle Alejandro Villanueva against Jacksonville dynamic edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. The second-year player is tied for sixth in the NFL with four sacks. More impressively, three of those four have been strip sacks — with two of those recovered by the Jaguars and one returned for a touchdown. Those are the type of plays that can decide games.
Ngakoue's game is obvious: speed. There hasn't been anything creative about his sacks (two each at Houston and the Jets); just flying past a plodding tackle around the edge. Ngakoue's sacks Sept. 10 were clocked at 2.28 seconds and 2.51 seconds — the former is the fastest in the NFL this season and the latter the fourth fastest, per NFL's Next Gen Stats.
4. FOUR-AND-OH NO
The regular season is not even a month old and only one undefeated team remains: Kansas City. But while the Chiefs surely feel good about being 4-0, it won't necessarily mean anything come the postseason. Last season, just two teams won their first four games. Neither (Minnesota nor Denver) made the playoffs. Kansas City, by the way, hosts the Steelers next week. The Chiefs lost twice to the Steelers last season (including the playoffs) but are 14-2 in their past 16 against everybody else.