Grading the Steelers defense vs Bengals in Week 1 win

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 11: Ahkello Witherspoon #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after an interception during the fourth quarter in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 11: Ahkello Witherspoon #25 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after an interception during the fourth quarter in the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Steelers defense was the main factor for the positive outcome for this team in their Week 1 win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers marched into Cincinnati outgunned as many did not see how the black and gold could win. The Bengals were a tough contest, but they seemed to show signs of rust since some of their key players lacked reps during preseason games. Pittsburgh was able to take advantage of this and cause turnovers, which kept them alive.

It was one of the best displays by a black and gold defense ever, especially with how much they affected the outcome of this one. They were able to keep pressure on Joe Burrow and lessen the blow from the Cincinnati offense. The defense won the game in week one for the Steelers with an all-around great effort.

Steelers defensive line was able to dominate the trenches

The defensive line dominated the trenches for most of the game. They were able to handle this newly forged offensive line that calls Cincinnati home. The opposition’s run game was tamed down to almost nothing, and their pass rush was also relentless. All three of the starters played great ball, but the reserve guys also contributed to winning football when their numbers were called as well.

Grade: A-

There are not too many things to complain about for this defensive front. They were able to pressure the quarterback for most of the game and halted Joe Mixon as well. Other than a big 31-yard run they allowed on the ground, there are not too many complaints that you can find. It was a great effort for each player in the trenches from the starters to those that filled in on different downs.

The edge rushers were able to get after the passer all day long

T.J. Watt got injured, but he was having himself a Defensive Player of the year type of performance before that. It looks like he will be back soon after the injury was not as serious as many thought. Alex Highsmith played on another level as he totaled three sacks and caused a turnover. He could have a giant year in 2022 if he can keep producing at that level. Both Malik Reed and Jamir Jones did some nice things when they were sent out onto the field in different situations.

Grade: A

This group was able to torture Burrow for a good chunk of the game and help keep this team in the contest. Watt got hurt but continues to show his Hall of Fame caliber career is still going strong. Highsmith and his counterparts should be able to hold down the fort while Watt is out with injury. It was a group effort, and they did a tremendous job with few issues to nitpick from.

Middle linebackers showed some improvement from the preseason

Middle linebacker has been a conundrum for Pittsburgh since training camp began. Devin Bush seemed to have a step forward in his play, and that is somewhat encouraging. Both he and Robert Spillane still struggled in coverage, but they were active against the run. Myles Jack still seems like the best overall player at his position for this defense.

Grade: C+

Overall, it was a good outing for this group considering the type of talent that they bring. They are not going to wow you, but they were able to play above the line in week one. Perhaps Devin Bush will get going and continue an upward trajectory, or maybe he will falter. This group is still week to week on a performance level, which could hinder the greatness of this group moving forward.

Each starting cornerback showed some good traits for Pittsburgh

Ahkello Witherspoon was set on an island for a lot of the game against one of the best weapons in the sport, Ja’Marr Chase. He did an admirable job that included an interception, and Levi Wallace held his own in coverage as well, most notably when he broke up a touchdown. Cam Sutton also got in on the action with a big pass breakup in the back corner of the end zone on the fourth and goal stop.

Grade: B

There is not much more that you could have asked for from these cornerbacks. They lost Levi Wallace later in the game and this group did not collapse. They were able to keep playing aggressively and helped this club win the game. They created turnovers and were able to cover some of the deadliest weapons in the NFL for most of the game.

Safety was one of the top positions for the team in week one

Minkah Fitzpatrick showed the NFL why he is considered one of the best at his position, or at least why he should be. He single handily gave this team another shot at a win after being put on life support once the game-tying touchdown occurred towards the end of the game. He blocked the extra point after already having a monster performance in the contest. Terrell Edmunds got overshadowed by Fitzpatrick’s play, but Edmunds had a great game himself.

Grade: A

It was a great game for this tandem, that has become one of the best in the league over the past handful of years. They displayed that on Sunday, and Fitzpatrick could be in store for a lot more turnovers again if he keeps playing like that each week. Watching a performance like that is very rare to witness, so you need to enjoy it while you can. This safety duo should be fun to watch for Steelers fans.

Steelers defense overall grade: A-

Things got off to a hot start for Pittsburgh’s 2022 season with their defensive output in their opener against the Bengals. It was something that many do not get the pleasure of watching, but it allowed for the black and gold to stay in this game, and eventually win. The way that this group was able to command the play of the game for such a long period of time was immaculate.

The defense of the Steelers this year has a chance at being something special if they can keep this going. Watt is going to be out for a month or so, but the defense should be able to handle that loss better than they have in years prior. This unit is going to be a factor in how the team’s playoff hopes play out.

Trending. Steelers fans should be fine with Mitch Trubisky’s Week 1 performance. light

The Steelers defense played one of the best games in years as they dragged this team into relevancy. Injuries happened, but this group looks like it could be one of the best in the NFL again.