Grading the Steelers defense vs Patriots in Week 2 loss
The Steelers defense was able to hold their own and keep the team in the game against the New England Patriots in week two.
The game against the New England Patriots was one to forget for those who root on the black and gold. The Steelers offense was painful to watch, especially since the defense tried their best to keep them in the game. Even though they played well against a lesser offense themselves, this unit could have done better.
There were plays that could have been made that might have led to better opportunities for this sluggish offense to take advantage of. The defense missed on some plays against a bad Patriots offense, but they did play well overall. They kept this club in the contest even though they allowed the opposing offense to kill off the clock at the end.
Steelers defensive line was able to hold their own
The defensive line did a nice job against the run, until the very end of the game. That kind of put a damper on their otherwise decent performance. They could not get after the passer in this game either as they faced a tougher offensive line in week two.
Allowing the Patriots offensive line to take control of the game at the end and run the ball without much concern was an issue. The lack of pressure on the opposition’s quarterback was another problem, but this group is a strong unit. They had an above-average day but need to get better from this performance overall.
The edge rushers struggled to put pressure on Mac Jones
Missing T.J. Watt continues to be the thorn in the side of the Steelers almost every year. He misses a lot of time due to injury and this club has no answer on how to remedy that missed time. He is such a special player, and the coaches seem to struggle to find different ways to win games without him on the field.
Alex Highsmith is going to get a lot of hate for his performance on Sunday because he did not record any sacks. He played well and created the pressure that forced the Minkah Fitzpatrick interception. The other players like Malik Reed and Jamir Jones need to become more impactful or the lack of pressure on the quarterback will continue.
The middle linebackers allowed for some easy completions over the middle
All three of the major inside linebackers on this team did not have the best game of their careers this past Sunday. It was not entirely their fault because of the lack of players in the middle of the field defending, but they played a major part. There was too much open grass for receivers to work with that allowed for big chunk plays.
You could blame their play on the defensive coordinator as well since he should have made more calls for players to be there. The Patriots saw this weakness and attacked it often to set up manageable downs or even convert first-down yardage. This linebacker group is going to be one to watch in 2022 and their performance will aid in the outcome of games.
The starting cornerbacks could not finish plays and it cost the team
The starting cornerbacks for this defense played well for the most part. The Patriots were able to make a play against Ahkello Witherspoon for a touchdown, even though the corner had the better positioning. Cam Sutton dropped an interception of his own and those two plays cost the team in the end.
Sometimes you just need a bounce or two to go your way in sports to make the difference between winning and losing. The Patriots were on the better half of that with both players not being able to make a play on the ball and intercept those passes. Both of those failed turnovers led to New England getting points and winning the game.
Both starters at safety continue to be a strong point for the Steelers
Minkah Fitzpatrick is off to a hot start to his season, and he continues to make plays on the ball. He was able to take advantage of a rushed throw over the middle of the field and track it down to intercept Mac Jones. He continues to show the NFL why he was paid the big bucks during the pre-season.
Even though Fitzpatrick is playing at a high level of football right now, his safety partner is having a great beginning too. Terrell Edmunds played a great game against the Patriots, and he seems primed to have a big year ahead. This is the best safety duo playing in the league right now.
Steelers defense overall grade: B-
The defense for Pittsburgh is going to need to carry this team over the season, now more than ever. Watt being out of the lineup is a killer, but there needs to be some players that step up for this group to be successful. He is a tough talent to replace while he works to come back from injury but losing the number of times that they have without him in the lineup is pitiful.
This group needs to be frugal and apply pressure on the opposing quarterback one way or another. It is going to take a lot of creativity by the defensive coordinator to attack offenses. The challenge for this unit will be hit with scrutiny if they cannot hold down the fort and give the scarce offense a chance to win games.
The Steelers defense played well enough for this team to have a chance to win this game. The offense failed them, but this unit could have put out a better performance.