SANTA CLARA, Calif. — I've spent a lot of time in these stories talking about how it can be a fight to shoot certain games. Sometimes it's the light, sometimes the action feels lacking ... sometimes you're just unlucky.
Santa Clara presented its own challenge, though. For the most part, the light was great. The action was not lacking. I wasn't super lucky ... but I wasn't unlucky. The truth is that the game stayed stagnant enough long enough to hang out by the line of scrimmage and poach action photographs of two-yard-gain after two-yard-gain.
For a while, that's all it was. Small gains and turnovers -- including Minkah Fitzpatrick's first forced fumble and first interception as a member of the Steelers. I kicked off this Sunday's Best with a shot of Fitzpatrick putting this head on the ball and causing a turnover.
The Steelers lost this one, 24-20, but that defense-heavy photo set doesn't do the best job of telling the story in this one. So, that was my Santa Clara-based issue. I have photos of the Steelers defense looking dominant and smothering -- and they were at times -- followed by an emotional Jimmy Garoppolo celebration, followed by James Conner walking off the field hanging his head.
Regardless of the outcome, it's always fun to photograph the new guys. Any time there's a trade or a signing, you get to focus a little more on that individual player, and hopefully it leads to some more dynamic photographs to use as needed.
What wasn't fun, most likely, for Fitzpatrick was being quite literally choke-slammed by Kyle Juszczyk when he went in for a tackle. I wish I had this from a different angle, but it's still a pretty fun watch from the back side as well:
I didn't get my best action of the day on his interception, but I did end up with a shot of the return I liked:
Thankfully, we have the ability to just show you the play:
And to share Fitzpatrick's thoughts on his quick adjustment to the Steelers' defense: "I'm not surprised. My coaches prepared me well, and my teammates helped me out a whole lot. We went out there, and they allowed me to just play my game of football. They kept it simple."
Like I mentioned, the first image up top is Fitzpatrick causing the fumble. And there's a lot more on the defensive side in general. T.J. Watt celebrating his interception. Devin Bush diving for a fumbled snap. Stephon Tuitt being a very large man.
They're all up there with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson's touchdowns and a few other moments from the game. See you guys and gals in the comments.