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Steelers Stock Report: See whose stock is rising and falling after the win over the Ravens

Discussing which Steelers players or positions are trending up, trending down, or simply treading water.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Todd Olszewski/Getty Images

Welcome to the latest edition of the Steelers Stock Report of the 2020 NFL season: Baltimore Ravens edition. I have been granted the distinguished opportunity to attempt to determine which direction individual players, or units, are trending after each weekly matchup, to the best of my ability.

I will attempt to make each determination without the use of my Black-and-Gold glasses, but admittedly I can make no promises.

Let’s get started...

Stock trending up: Steelers newcomers

Experience is the best teacher. The mercurial Mike Tyson once famously quipped that everybody has a plan until they get smacked in the mouth. We always think we know what to expect, but the reality can be far different than those expectations.

I have a feeling every newcomer thinks they are totally prepared for the carnage about to happen prior to every Steelers/Ravens donnybrook, but are immediately shocked by the sheer intensity displayed by all participants on every play.

With that being said, the future looks incredibly bright in the Steel City considering the outstanding performances put forth by a number of the Steelers youthful participants in their first taste of the most physically intense rivalry in the NFL.

Chase Claypool's play and physique often belies his actual experience level, but he grew up exponentially on Sunday. He received a rude welcome from the Ravens as they forced him to fumble on his first career reception against them, and was harassed with tight physical in-your-face coverage throughout the game. Many young receivers would have struggled to overcome the early miscue and harassment, but Claypool is no ordinary young receiver, as he showed with his impressive competitiveness in the game that resulted in his game winning touchdown reception. The perfect response to his earlier fumble. The sky is the limit for the young man.

Fellow rookie Alex Highsmith made the biggest play of the game, maybe the season thus far, with his leaping interception of the reigning league MVP Lamar Jackson early in the second half. The most impressive aspect of the play was the recognition and execution necessary to put himself in position to make the play. Another young man who doesn't perform like a rookie, Highsmith stated postgame that he didn't get deep enough to make a play on a similar route in the first half, and he made the proper adjustment.

We heard that early and often about these Steelers rookies coming out of training camp, that they were quick learners who didn't make the same mistake twice. Good to know that wasn't merely hyperbole.

Finally, Robert Spillane isn't a rookie, but he is a newcomer to the rivalry. The young man has shown over the last couple of games that he does indeed have a future in the NFL and he has earned the privilege to start in place of the injured Devin Bush. His football IQ and instincts allow him to play much faster than his forty time and measurables would suggest. The most impressive thing about the interception he returned for a TD all happened from the neck up. Some fans may view Spillane as a classic overachiever who is easy to root for, but he is more athletic than given credit for.

Stock trending down: Steelers defensive reputation

The Steelers defense came into Sunday's game with a fearsome reputation, especially their ability to shutdown the running game, that preceded them. After giving up 263 yards on the ground to the Ravens, with many of those yards gained on simple dive plays, the Steelers defensive reputation was left tarnished and tattered.

Now just to be clear, the Steelers were already missing Devin Bush and Mike Hilton in this game, two of their best run defenders. Then they lost DT Tyson Alualu, a valued member of the best defensive line in football, early in the the game to a knee injury. Alualu has been playing at a Pro Bowl level and the run defense suffered in his absence. Big time!

The Ravens are the best rushing attack in the league, and it's nearly impossible to totally shutdown their running game. The Steelers started the game asking Bud Dupree and TJ Watt to focus their attention initially on Lamar Jackson and trust their teammates to limit the damage once he handed the ball off. That strategy went out the window after Alualu's injury. Backup defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, who is more end than tackle, was thrust into action as Alualu's replacement. He wasn't ready for primetime and was abused repeatedly, but then the second half rolled around. More on that in a moment.

Undermanned, and with their manhood challenged, the Steelers rebounded with a far more respectable second half performance. They were opportunistic throughout. In the end, the reputation survives to live again, and the Steelers exit Charm City still undefeated.

Stock surge to save the day: Isaiah Buggs

With any hopes of the Steelers making a miraculous second half comeback flickering on life support, the Steelers emerged from the visitors locker room after making some much needed adjustments, both strategic and personnel. That would start with an attitude adjustment, none bigger than the aforementioned Isaiah Buggs. Buggs looked like a totally different player in the second half, resulting in a complete turnaround. He seemed easily redirected by the Ravens stout offensive line in the first half, but was extremely aggressive in the second half. He penetrated into the Ravens backfield often, and was a disruptive pass rusher. On one of the biggest plays of the afternoon, he disengaged from his blocker and stopped Jackson short on a key fourth down QB delayed rush attempt. The resulting fumble recovery by Spillane garnered much of the attention, but Buggs made that play.

Hopefully Alualu's knee injury isn't serious enough to cause him to miss extended time: early reports of a sprained MCL are encouraging, because of his importance as the anchor in the middle of the Steelers defensive line. Buggs doesn't possess the lower body strength to anchor and tie up multiple blockers like Alualu, but he may be asked to fill in yet again for Alualu in his absence. If so, he proved Sunday that he is capable, but he has to do it his own way.