Pittsburgh is fresh off a win over the Carolina Panthers. Here’s the most important Steelers news you need to know as we gear up for Week 16.
Losing to the Baltimore Ravens essentially pulverized playoff hopes for the Pittsburgh Steelers this year. As a result, fans were torn on how to root for this team entering Week 15. Some insisted that every win is important, while other fans were subtly hoping for better positioning in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Regardless of which way you were rooting, the Steelers came away with a win against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and you better believe that Mike Tomlin is going to finish as strong as he can down the stretch.
Pittsburgh’s game plan and top performers in Week 15 opened our eyes. Here’s the biggest Steelers news you need to know on this Tuesday before Christmas.
According to Pro Football Focus, Alex Highsmith was the highest-graded player on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16 against the Panthers. If you put on the tape, it’s not at all hard to see why. The young pass rusher was dominant against both the run and the pass — earning a sack and a tackle for a loss while flat-out humiliating rookie tackle Ikem Ekwonu at times.
As a result of his outstanding performance, Highsmith earned an overall grade of 90.8 — one of the highest marks of his NFL career thus far. He greatly aided a Pittsburgh defense that allowed just 1.3 yards per carry and sacked Sam Darnold 4 times. The Steelers allowed just 16 points on the road in Week 15, and Highsmith was a huge reason why.
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After disappointing for most of the 2022 season, Diontae Johnson really came alive with an impressive performance in Week 15. With Pittsburgh focused on the rushing attack, Mitch Trubisky threw just 22 passes, but Johnson saw nearly half of them. He hauled in all 10 targets for 98 yards — including a few key third-down conversions. Sadly, one of the highlights of the afternoon for Johnson was a taunting penalty that backed Pittsburgh up after a big conversion.
Johnson is now chasing history, but not exactly in a good way. With just 3 games remaining, earning 100 receptions isn’t out of the question (he currently has 77). However, it’s astonishing that the veteran hasn’t recorded a single touchdown on 123 targets this year, per ESPN stats. Talk about being on the wrong end of history with stat. Maybe he finally gets his score before the sun sets on the 2022 season.
With the results in Week 15, the AFC playoff picture suddenly looks very interesting. Currently slated to have a Wild Card spot are the Ravens (9-5), Chargers (8-6), and Dolphins (8-6). This race could finish in a number of ways.
On the outside looking in are the Patriots and Jets, as both teams sit on a 7-7 record. Mathematically, the Jaguars, Raiders, Browns, and Steelers (all 6-8) aren’t yet eliminated. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they won’t own many tiebreakers, and their odds of making the tournament are microscopic.