Grading Steelers shameful defensive performance vs Bills in Week 5

ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09: Gabe Davis #13 of the Buffalo Bills makes a one handed catch against Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a touchdown during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 09: Gabe Davis #13 of the Buffalo Bills makes a one handed catch against Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers for a touchdown during the second quarter at Highmark Stadium on October 09, 2022 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Steelers defense got smashed on Sunday against the Bills and their Head Coach took notice. 

There are many different words that could sum up the Steelers defensive performance on Sunday. Perhaps the best would be disgruntled, abandoned, and lacking. Buffalo might have been missing most of their starting secondary as well, but Pittsburgh decided to upstage their performance with one of the worst by this organization in over 30 years.

Infuriating and sad are two terms that seem to be synonymous in football, but it could not describe this defensive performance better. The missing T.J. Watt effect is still in full bloom, especially after it was announced that he would be missing an additional couple of weeks from a small knee procedure. The Steelers defense is a lost cause and should have some jobs beginning lost soon if there are no fixes.

Defensive line got bullied again as they did not show much

Cam Heyward seems hurt or falling off due to age. One of the two are true and neither are all that great. He does not seem to be himself as he continues to not make major impacts for this defense. The bright spot continues to be DeMarvin Leal as he batted down a couple of passes early to show his effort before an injury sidelined him.

Grade: F+

Besides Leal accomplishing his hands in the pathway of a pass, there was not much to like about the defensive game in the trenches. Larry Ogunjobi getting hurt in the early portions of this game did not help, but he has not been stellar either. There was loss of containment against Josh Allen, plus the run defense allowed for chunk plays again.

Edge rushers continue to struggle as a group to apply pressure

The performance by the edge rushers was so poor that it seems like none of them traveled to Buffalo on Sunday. It was ugly as they could not apply any pressure against Allen and allowed him to break out and run the ball. Alex Highsmith has been playing well during Watt’s absence, but this week did not provide him wonders.

Grade: F

Beating the Bills was a lost cause before the Steelers even boarded the airplane. Adding the non-existence of a pass rush against Allen and you get a torched earth onslaught against you. That is exactly what happened and that will persist as long as Watt is out of the lineup because anyone besides Highsmith will not come close to sacking the quarterback.

Why was Robert Spillane covering Stefon Diggs in a football game?

In this week’s fire-able offense committed by the coaching staff is a repeat offender that fans have come to love. Robert Spillane covering an opponent’s top receiver showed up again this week as the terrible coverage linebacker was matched against Stefon Diggs. Not only is he their best receiver, but he is probably the NFL’s best receiver right now.

Grade: F-

An ugly day at the office is a nice way of putting the performance of these linebackers in the middle of the Steelers defense. Devin Bush missed an easy sack, Myles Jack took a boneheaded penalty, and Spillane was his usual self. What is this fix for this group? They might be too far gone but try Mark Robinson at least.

Turns out, replacement cornerbacks cannot guard professional receivers

Ahkello Witherspoon is not a Pro Bowl guy, but the defense is really missing him. Levi Wallace made some good plays and some bad reads as well during his start against Buffalo. It was a beat-up group heading into the contest before they finished the game with James Pierre and Josh Jackson as their two outside starters.

Grade: F-

It’s a real shame that the grading scale only goes to F- as the lowest score because this group deserves worse. Wallace made an interception and a couple of pass breakups, but that was about the only positives. Josh Allen had a field day for the Bills offense and chucked the ball for over 400 passing yards without a whiff of concern.

Terrell Edmunds seems to mean more to this secondary than most expected

Pittsburgh was missing most of their starting secondary, but excuses get you beat in this league. The Bills also carried the same burden heading into this game, but the difference is that they still have an imposing force up front. Miscommunication and lack of positional awareness was the killer of the two safeties in this one.

Grade: F+

Normally Minkah Fitzpatrick is the bright spot for this team, but he got posturized by getting an interception ripped out of his hands that turned into a touchdown. He was nothing special for this defensive unit and Tre Norwood had a laughable effort. He struggled at the strong safety spot and got burnt for the longest touchdown allowed by a Steelers defense in decades.

Steelers defense overall grade: F-

It was a painful performance to watch as the Steelers defense laid down and asked to be put out of their misery by the Bills. There are zero excuses for this group anymore, they are not tired or just missing Watt, they are bad at football. The personnel and coaching are not there to take this group and fix them during this year.

Pittsburgh’s good old days of having a defense to lean on to win your games are long gone. Switch playing renegade to when the offense hits the field with their potential last possession because that song will not boost this defensive group. It is a sad thing to watch as everyone is looking for an excuse before they can just admit that this defense stinks.

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The worst performance by the Steelers defense in over thirty years showed up on tvs across the United States. It was an ugly game for the entire 60-minutes and there is no one escaping the blame.