Plays of the Year: Joey Porter Jr. snags his first pro interception (in the preseason)

Steel City Underground presents “Plays of the Year” featuring the top runs, catches, hits and everything else in-between from the Pittsburgh Steelers 2023 season.

In the Pittsburgh Steelers’ second NFL preseason game of 2023, they hosted the AFC powerhouse Buffalo Bills at Acrisure Stadium on August 19 and treated the AFC East team like little brothers in a 27-15 rout. The Bills were unable to get on the scoreboard until the final quarter of the game when both teams had depth players who may, or may not, be on their regular season rosters on the field.

One reason the Steelers did so well against the Bills was an offense that was hot early and put a very quick 14 points on the scoreboard in the opening minutes of the first quarter.

Another reason was the fact that, despite not playing their “starters” on defense for many snaps, Pittsburgh got big dividends from young players on that side of the ball, and some new faces that are vying for a roster spot, including rookie Joey Porter Jr.

With just a little over a minute remaining in the first half of the game, Pressley Harvin punted the ball to Buffalo at the Bills’ six-yard line. With Matt Barkley in at quarterback, Porter – a second-round draft selection in 2023 who didn’t see playing time in the Steelers’ first preseason game – was able to jump a route to grab an interception at the Buffalo 30-yard line and set up the Steelers’ third touchdown of the game.

Porter, lined up on the outside, had near-perfect body placement as he ran with the receiver down the Bills’ right sideline. While receiver Khalil Shakir appeared to make a move, Porter simply kept his eyes on where Barkley was throwing the ball and easily took it away for his first interception in the NFL.

What made the moment special, though, was the fact that Porter had been baptized by fire throughout the entirety of the Pittsburgh Steelers training camp at Saint Vincent’s College (Latrobe, Penn.). Videos of George Pickens putting the rookie through the paces were widely distributed. Porter obviously benefitted from the high-level competition at camp, though. Porter, the son of former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter Sr., was able to give the ball to his father who’d opted to sit in the stands for the game and just be “Dad.”

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