The Steelers defense was able to handle business against a poorly run Indianapolis offense on Monday.
Overall, it was a group effort for the Steelers defense to withhold the Colts offense from 24 points or more. They were able to apply pressure and cause a couple of turnovers that altered the outcome of this contest. It was not pretty, but a win is always going to be sweeter than the closest of losses.
The defensive line was able to apply pressure and slow down the run
Perhaps the trenches were not the best outing for this defense, but they were able to do just enough. They kept Jonathan Taylor from having a huge game, and that is an accomplishment within itself. Again, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for this crew, but they played winning football.
Cam Heyward continues to be the most consistent defensive lineman for Pittsburgh this season. Larry Ogunjobi has been a decent signing, but he has disappeared throughout the season. Heyward was the only one applying pressure, but this group was able to stop the rushing attack, and that boosted their score up.
Alex Highsmith continues to play at a high level since T.J. Watt’s return
T.J. Watt has not been lighting the NFL world on fire since he returned from injury a couple of weeks ago. He did not do anything significant during this game, but he has provided something that many cannot provide, a distraction. He causes clubs to focus on stopping him and that allows for many opportunities for his teammates.
Watt continues to get back into the game after he had a great performance against the Cincinnati Bengals just a week prior. Alex Highsmith has continued his monster season against the Colts by having another sack and forced fumble. He was a one-man wrecking crew that was able to turn Indianapolis’s final drive into dust.
Both inside linebackers were not a liability, which is a win
Devin Bush and Myles Jack have been one of the weakest spots on this defense throughout the schedule. Bush has seemingly gotten better as each week passes by, and Jack has not been as consistent. Both are not great starting inside linebackers, but they played decent enough in this matchup.
One of the toughest positions a defender is assigned in football is covering the middle of the field. Both Bush and Jack are asked to do that on a routine basis with Robert Spillane normally subbing into the game. Both had a lot of tackles, but they also made some mistakes that took away a solid grade for the duo.
The corners played decent enough to help this team get a victory
Some corners had better performances than others in this game. Both Cam Sutton and Levi Wallace struggle to find consistency on the outside spots. Arthur Maulet is still a polarizing figure for this defense as he continues to try and lock down a starting nickel spot for this group.
Maulet might have just had his best game as a professional football player. He was all over the field and made some excellent plays when he needed to. James Pierre is stacking some solid performances as well, which should lead to a bigger role as the season starts to wind down.
Both safeties played big parts in two different plays that had major effects
Terrell Edmunds had another good performance that got overshadowed by some of his teammates. He made a big play on third down to stall Matt Ryan and the Colts offense. Minkah Fitzpatrick also had some good plays, but the biggest issue was the penalty that went against him which caused many Steelers fans to panic.
Neither of the two caused a turnover, but they were monumental in setting up some significant plays. Edmunds was able to get Ryan on the ground and kill the Indianapolis drive, while Fitzpatrick was also able to force some fourth downs as well. These two are a great duo and it is time to give Edmunds a longer contract extension.
Steelers overall defense grade: B-
Nothing special from this group, especially since they were going up against such a poor offense. The Steelers were able to make turnovers happen in significant moments during this contest. It was a group effort that only allowed 17 points, but the story was much more complex than that.
The Steelers defense did not have their best performance of the year, but they did just enough to win the game. Things got ugly at times for this group but they bent and did not break when it mattered most.