The Steelers defense was able to shut down the Panthers on Sunday as they created a tough atmosphere to play against.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of this game was the ability of the Steelers defense to shut down the Carolina Panthers rushing attack. Most thought that this unit would struggle to stop the run, just like they did over the last several weeks. That was fair criticism, but this group was able to destroy the opposition’s run game.
The defensive line was able to dominate the trenches the whole game
Depth has become an increasing concern for Pittsburgh’s defensive line, especially with Chris Wormley out for the remainder of the season due to a knee injury. Luckily, Larry Ogunjobi was able to play one of his best games in the black and gold colors on Sunday.
Cam Heyward played at his normal high level, which has become almost second nature to fans of the Steelers. He was able to get after the passer and stop the run. Dominating fashion was the title of the show for this group in the trenches as the black and gold dominated that warfare for the entirety of the contest.
Both inside and outside linebackers were able to stop being constantly disruptive
T.J. Watt is still playing hurt, but he was able to be a significant factor once again. He was able to get after the passer on multiple occasions and do his normal trustworthy appearance against the oppositions rushing attack. Devin Bush played a solid game after having a poor performance against the Ravens last week.
Grouping these two positions together sunk the edge rushers grade of an A+. Alex Highsmith is enjoying a great season and Watt is starting to play more impactfully. Bush played well but Robert Spillane is a giant hole in this defense and Mark Robinson deserves more snaps than Spillane at this juncture.
Perhaps the weakest point on the defense was at cornerback for the Steelers
Stopping the run was great to see, but the defensive effort was not flawless by Pittsburgh. The cornerbacks did not have the best day at the office as they allowed for some big plays, which kept the Panthers in the game. Not everything was terrible by this group, but they were playing against Sam Darnold, who is starting to become a lesser known commodity around the NFL.
It was a winning effort nonetheless by these cornerbacks, but it had some issues that continue to linger. Cam Sutton continues to show that he needs to be a priority re-sign this offseason as he has the most experience. Levi Wallace had a tough game overall and James Pierre allowed for a big chunk play after some miscommunication.
Both safeties had one of their best games of the season against Carolina
Welcome back to the safety show for the Steelers as both Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick had good outings. It was not their best performance as a tandem this season, but they both played well. Edmunds just enjoyed his best game of the year as he continues to show his worth to his team in hopes of re-signing long-term.
Another impressive performance by these two starters as they have been the most consistent group in the secondary. Edmunds had a great game that saw him do well in coverage and get after the passer as well. Fitzpatrick had some nice plays in coverage, but overall, a quiet day for the star safety.
Steelers defense overall grade: B+
There are some noticeable weak links for this defensive unit. No matter if Myles Jack is in the lineup or not, Spillane cannot be on the field. Mark Robinson provided enough with his defensive snaps to get more opportunities over Spillane. Overall, this a great effort by this group that will hopefully carry out through the remaining schedule ahead.
The Steelers defense was able to destroy their competition in the trenches throughout the game. It was a nice change of pace compared to what most fans have had to witness over the last couple of weeks.