Grading the Steelers strong defense vs Dolphins in Week 7

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 23: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hits Raheem Mostert #31 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 23: Minkah Fitzpatrick #39 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hits Raheem Mostert #31 of the Miami Dolphins during the first quarter at Hard Rock Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

The Steelers defense had a troubling start but bounced back in a big way against the Dolphins in week 7.

The Steelers defense was a tale of two halves as they got stomped on during the first half. Their best play came in the second half as they shut out the high-powered offense of the Miami Dolphins. They make some significant plays that allowed Pittsburgh’s offense to get a chance to win the game.

Steelers defensive line was able to hold their own after a tough start

The game in the trenches is always hit or miss with the black and gold during this season. The defensive front was able to play well for the most part against the run even with Miami’s top running back almost getting nearly an average of five yards per carry. Both Larry Ogunjobi and Cam Heyward played well but they were not able to rush the passer.

Grade: C+

Overall, the unit did nothing too spectacular as the defensive line had some up and down moments. For the most part, they were able to do enough to give the Steelers a shot at coming back and winning the game. Not enough pass rush and the run defense was not superb to give a great rating for this contest.

The pass rush was nearly inexistent for the defense this week

We reach a big question mark for this defensive unit as the outside linebacker spot is not doing great as a whole. The good news is that T.J. Watt should be back over the next couple of weeks, but the season might be a lost cause when that time comes. Alex Highsmith is the only shot this team has at the edge position as Malik Reed has done little to nothing outside of the Tampa Bay game.

Grade: D-

Luckily for this group, the rest of the defensive unit was able to lift up their lack of pass rush. Both Highsmith and Reed did not apply much pressure and their run defense also faltered at times. They need to be better next week or Jalen Hurts will be able to control the game and do significant damage.

Both starting inside linebackers were able to play well

Playing middle linebacker for the Steelers in 2022 was almost an instant insult, but the starters are turning things around. Both Devin Bush and Myles Jack are starting to become more consistent. They had another solid game against Miami and made some positive plays that directly impacted the outcome of the game.

Grade: B-

Neither of the duo has been special or one of the league’s best, but they have been improving each week. Bush looks like he has gained some confidence in his game again, perhaps his questionable future in the NFL shoved some fire into his tenacity. Jack has been consistent every game and continues to be a solid addition from this past offseason.

Lack of turnovers sunk the cornerbacks this week

Pittsburgh was able to have a bunch of players rejoin the team after suffering from a swath of injuries over the last several weeks. The first half was ugly for the secondary with the Dolphins doing whatever they wanted to them. They cleaned things up in the back half of the game, but they missed out on some key opportunities.

Grade: C+

It was night and day for the cornerbacks between the first and second half of this contest. The biggest issue was that they dropped a couple of easy interceptions that could have changed the entire outcome of the game. The Steelers corners have done an admirable job with the number of injuries that they have been plagued with.

Starting safeties have become the best tandem in the NFL right now

Terrell Edmunds was back after dealing with his own injury the past several weeks, and the defense missed him dearly. He has done a great job this season and Edmunds should be in-line for a significant pay increase this upcoming offseason. Hopefully, he will be able to re-sign with the Steelers long-term to keep this great tandem intact.

Grade: B

Both Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick had game-altering plays that turned things around for this team. Fitzpatrick broke up a pass in the end zone and Edmunds repeated that same type of play just with a different act. The grade fell for the position as another dropped interception occurred that could have changed how this game played out.

Steelers overall defensive grade: B-

Perhaps this is a harsh grade for this unit after they only allowed 16 points against them in a failing effort. They ended up losing the game, but the offense is to blame for that outcome. No matter how you slice it, the defense was able to adjust and give the offense every opportunity to win the game.

Even though there are issues plaguing this unit, especially with turnovers and rushing the passer, this group held their own. Pittsburgh has a defense that has been playing well and figuring out ways to get off the field when they have to. Hopefully, they can keep playing like this with Watt returning soon to give them some much needed relief.

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The Steelers defense was able to bounce back in the second half after getting demolished in the first. They gave this club a chance to win the football game even though it was a losing effort in the end.