The Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers took part in a big prime time game at Heinz Field on Thursday Night Football, and the Steelers presented their loyal fan base a 52-21 whopping for their fifth straight win of the season.
During the game, some perform well, while others fall short of the standard. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in. After the game, when the dust settles, we decipher who falls into which category.
As always, feel free to comment on the list in the comment section below. Be part of the conversation!
Stat Line: 22/25, 328 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT, 158.3 Passer Rating
Roethlisberger lit up the scoreboard with a perfect passer rating. The fourth time he has done that in his career. Putting Roethlisberger on this list is easy, but I wonder how many points this team could have scored had he played the full game?
Stat Line: 6 rec., 96 yards, 1 TD, 6 targets
Everyone was expecting a big game from Brown, and he delivered. On the day he was cited for a traffic violation, Brown put together a fine outing, catching every pass thrown his way — including a 53-yard bomb for a touchdown. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Brown’s stats (receptions and yards) might be down this year, but as long as he is hitting pay dirt and the team is winning I don’t think he will be complaining much.
Stat Line: 3 rec., 90 yards, 1 TD, 1 rush, 13 yards, 5 targets
Right when Steelers fans starting sweating after watching the Panthers drive down the field with ease and put up a TD, JuJu struck again. The first play from scrimmage set the tone for what comes next, more on that in a second, but remember when everyone said Smith-Schuster doesn’t have the speed to get deep? In his second year he has proven this is laughable.
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 3 solo, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 Pass Defense, 1 QB Hit, 1 TFL, 1 TD
Williams looked bad on the opening drive. He looked as if he couldn’t hang with McCaffrey for a full game, and maybe he couldn’t, but it didn’t matter after Smith-Schuster struck on the first offensive play for the offense, and then Williams’ pick-six completely changed the game. Going from 7-0 to 7-14 in a blink of an eye is remarkable, and Williams had himself a night - very worthy of being in this category.
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 2 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QB Hit
Don’t look now, but Dupree has been on this list for two straight weeks. Dare I say, he is starting to resemble an NFL pass rusher. Is he elite? No. He is about elite as Joe Flacco is elite, but he is becoming a threat. And that is just what the Steelers need out of Dupree. If the offense wants to put extra attention to Watt, it is up to Dupree to win his matchup — and he has been. He has notched 4.5 sacks so far this season, and is on pace to be on the verge of a double-digit sack total season. Bet you didn’t see that coming this year!
Stat Line: 2 receptions, 17 yards, 2 targets, 1 FF
In an effort to get some players on the list who aren’t normally here, Nix deserves a spot. His two receptions for 17 yards weren’t just fun to watch, but also helped move the chains on Pittsburgh drives. But what Nix brings to this team is so much more than fullback play. His special teams play, and his forced fumble on a kickoff, was the final nail in the coffin.
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 2 solo, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QB Hits
Since the Steelers have altered their gap assignments for their defensive front, Heyward has been more of a plugger, and less of a dynamic playmaker. But on Thursday night we all were treated to some of the 2017 Heyward who registered double digit sacks. Heyward was dominant and did his part in collapsing the pocket and giving Cam Newton happy feet on more than on occasion.
Stat Line: 1 tackle, 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QB Hits
Watt didn’t necessarily light up the stat sheet, but he was a force on the field. It was his pressure which forced Newton’s bad throw to Vince Williams. It was Watt who sent a message to Newton with a wicked hit to his throwing shoulder. Not every game is going to be for padding stats, and Watt’s Week 10, while statistically mundane, was disruptive.
Stat Line: 52 points, and a huge prime time win on a short week
Kudos to Mike Tomlin, Keith Butler and Randy Fichtner. They all deserve a pat on the back after a tremendous game play on a short week. I can only imagine the hours spent from Sunday night till Thursday morning watching film, meeting with players, practicing and just overall prep on a short week. Oh, and the Steelers were only penalized ONCE in this game.
3rd Down Units
Stat Line: Offense: 8-10, Defense: 4-11
More 3rd down dominance on both sides of the ball. This is an indicator of a team on the rise, and if they keep this up they will be tough to beat down the stretch.
State Line: 4-for-4
Remember when the knock on the Steelers was their poor red-zone numbers? Not anymore. After a perfect evening in the red area, it will be interesting to see where they rank come Week 11. My guess is at the top of the league, or very close to it.
David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey
Stat Line: The enforcers
When Eric Reid hit Roethlisberger high while sliding, the enforcers stepped in to make sure Reid knew exactly what he did, and that it wasn’t acceptable. For a second I felt I was watching a hockey game when the team goes after someone for going after their superstars. They can be called enforcers on the ice, and I think it is safe to say the Panthers wanted no part of No. 66 or No. 53. I loved the response by the Steelers.
Stat Line: Garbage time play, still gets burnt
I don’t even know what to say about Artie Burns anymore. He doesn’t see the field outside of special teams until the fourth quarter, and while in the game gets burned and commits a horrible defensive pass interference call in the process (the Steelers’ only penalty of the night). Burns is in a bad place right now.