Deshea Townsend found a new home on Sunday, signing with the defending AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts, officially ending his 12-year run with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even though he’ll never be confused with Rod Woodson or Mel Blount when it comes to all-time great Steelers cornerbacks, he still ends his Pittsburgh career as one of the most accomplished defensive backs in franchise history. That, of course, is no small feat, and it’s not bad for a guy that always seemed to be fighting for his job, and sometimes even his roster spot.
It’s still kind of hard to believe that he was with the team since 1998, entering the NFL with the same draft class that brought the Steelers Alan Faneca and Hines Ward, two of the best to ever sport the black and gold at their respective positions, as well as, perhaps, the greatest name to ever appear on a Pittsburgh jersey: Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala.
Some facts, figures and highlights from Townsend’s Pittsburgh career…
– As I pointed out early today in the morning links, Townsend was a valuable player and key contributor to a pair of Super Bowl winning teams in Pittsburgh, and that shouldn’t go unnoticed by any fan. For some reason, his sack of Matt Hasslebeck late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XL will always stand out to me from that game. It was almost as if that was the moment I said, “OK, this is really going to happen.” Plus, it was just a solid hit, watching him come untouched off the corner, leveling an unsuspecting Hasslebeck.
And speaking of sacks…
– Only one defensive back in Steelers history recorded more than Townsends 15.5: Carnell Lake with 21.5.
Of course, any and all sack numbers (and there’s one more coming) need to be taken in their proper context as the sack didn’t become an official NFL stat until 1982, which obviously puts the 1970′s Steel Curtain at quite the disadvantage in such discussions. Still, these are the records as we have them.
– He is one of only two Steelers (at any position) to record at least 20 interceptions and 10 sacks in his career with the team. Rod Woodson (38 interceptions, 13.5 sacks) being the other. Pretty good company.
– As JJ pointed out to me late Sunday night via e-mail, one of the more remarkable things about Townsend is not only was he a very good player for a lot of years, he was also extremely affordable in the salary cap era, even though he was a starter for the better part of two contracts.
– His touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Dallas during the 2008 season is probably his signature moment with the team, but let’s not forget about this touchdown during the 2004 season when the Steelers snapped New England’s epic winning streak.