After up-and-down year, Steelers CB Mike Hilton ready for first playoff game
Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Mike Hilton (31) and the defense come on to the field for an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH — It hasn’t hit Mike Hilton yet, but he knows it will.
He was eventually signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad in December, entered a reserve/future contract in January and is now a key piece of the defense as the Steelers prepare to open their postseason with a divisional-round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
For Hilton, it’s still surreal.
“That’s the funny thing about it,” he said. “I’m just out there having fun, enjoying it with the guys and not taking it for granted. Hopefully, we can end this run with a Super Bowl and that will top it off.”
Hilton played in all 16 regular season games and 58.8 percent of the defensive snaps for the Steelers. He opens the playoffs with 64 tackles, 4.0 sacks, a forced fumble and two interceptions.
“It’s all worked out for me,” Hilton said, “and hopefully things are going to get better from here.”
He’s relied on veteran members of Pittsburgh’s secondary for guidance during the regular season, and that hasn’t changed during the past two weeks. What he’s heard the most is simple: It’s a whole different level.
“Just go out there and try to be the best player you can be,” Hilton said of his teammate’s advice. “Don’t try to overdue your role. Just make the plays as they come.”
As Hilton prepares for Sunday, he said there’s been some nerves, but mostly just excitement. This is something he’s always wanted to be a part of — ever since he started watching playoff games on television — and now he’s getting the chance.
He anticipates everything to sink in when he enters a Heinz Field playoff atmosphere he’s heard so much about, but has never experienced.
“Everything that’s at stake,” he said. “It’s win or go home. So you have to be up and ready to make plays.”