PITTSBURGH—Less than two weeks after returning to practice from injured reserve, and only a day after being activated from IR, rookie cornerback Tre Brown found himself on the field at left cornerback during the Seahawks' Week 6 loss at Pittsburgh.
Sidney Jones IV started the game, but the plan was to work Brown in for a few series, and his first action came late in the first quarter on the Steelers' third possession of the game. And as always seems to be the case when a young player is inserted into the game, the Steelers wasted little time testing Brown. After Brown made a couple of good tackles on short passes, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tried to test the rookie deep on third-and-6, and on just the seventh play of his NFL career, Brown had perfect coverage on Diontae Johnson eliminating any chance of a completion even if the ball had been thrown better than it was.
Jones returned to the game after that series, but later left with a chest injury, leading to Brown finishing the game and playing 40 of 75 defensive snaps, and throughout the game Brown showed that he belonged, and as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the game, that he deserves to play more going forward.
"I thought it was really good," Carroll said of Brown's debut. "I thought he looked really good. The opportunities that he had, he was right where he was supposed to be. I've got to see the film and all that, but when he had the chance to make some plays, it looked like he was right on it. That's all he has shown us. I've told you guys that, that that's what he's been doing, and that was a really good first go. Here it is on Sunday night and the whole thing, and it was not too big for him at all. He has been brought up right in the way he played at Oklahoma in all those big games and all of that, it was not too big for him. He was really poised and did a nice job, and he deserves to play more."
In addition to providing solid coverage throughout the game, Brown also turned in one of the defensive highlights of the night for Seattle, a third-down stop that gave the Seahawks the ball back in overtime with a chance to win.
With the Steelers facing third-and-4 in overtime, Brown's initial responsibility had him covering a route deeper down the field, but as Roethlisberger rolled to his right, Brown realized the throw was going to be a check down to receiver Ray-Ray McCloud, and when McCloud caught the ball about 2 yards from the first-down marker, it looked initially like it was going to be an easy first down, but Brown closed in a hurry before making a perfect form tackle that stopped McCloud dead in his tracks. Unfortunately that play ended up being a bright spot in a loss, but had Seattle's offense scored on the ensuing possession to win the game, it would have been one of the biggest plays of the game.
"I had to bail, we were cover-4 quarters, so I had to bail with my man," Brown said when asked about the play. "I saw that it was third-and-4—pre-snap, I saw that down and distance, so I covered the curl, and I knew when Ben Roethlisberger started scrambling, he was going to dump it off to that guy, So I didn't think, I just had to go, put the pedal to the metal and just run and get a third-down stop."
Said linebacker Bobby Wagner, "He did great. We talked a little bit before going out to the game, I just told him play free. It was a long time ago, but I still remember being a rookie there's a lot going on in your head, and you don't want to try to do too much. He had a really big tackle on that third down where a guy could have got a first down had (Brown) not broke so quick. So excited to see him grow and get more opportunities to play, and it's going to be fun to watch him play."
Brown's debut came a little later than he and the Seahawks would have liked, but it was still a very encouraging sign for the defense and the cornerback depth going forward. Brown, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, had just started to earn first-team reps in the competition for starting jobs late in camp when he injured his knee, leading to him being placed on injured reserve. Brown credited Wagner, among others, with helping him get through the injury.
"Being injured for that while, it's no fun," Brown said. "Talking to my close teammate, Bobby, he helped me through that whole process with my mental, how to handle things. Not being able to play with those guys, it was tough, but I had to control my emotions and be a leader on the sidelines. And when my number was called, I was going to go out there and make those plays that I know I can make."
The Seattle Seahawks take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in their sixth game of the 2021 season at Heinz Field. This album will be updated throughout the game. Game Action photos are presented by Washington's Lottery.