The Pittsburgh Steelers defense absolutely dominated the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. A lot of the credit for this performance goes to the Steelers defensive line, and more particularly its edge rushers. Despite only dialing up one blitz call on for the entire game, the trio of T.J. Watt, Melvin Ingram, and Alex Highsmith caused relentless pressure on Josh Allen, practically living in the Bills backfield. If this performance was a sign of things to come, not only is the NFL officially on notice but this trio could go down in NFL history.
The @steelers defense was absolutely ferocious on Sunday.— NFL on CBS (@NFLonCBS) September 13, 2021
Most pressures by a pass rusher in Week 1:
1. CAMERON HEYWARD 12
2. Arik Armstead 9
3. T.J. WATT 8
3. MELVIN INGRAM 8
3. Myles Garrett 8 pic.twitter.com/OPt1sRSlww
Starting things off with what we saw from these guys on Sunday, it was a pass rushing clinic. Watt, Ingram, and Highsmith combined for 20 pressures (CBS Sports), six quarterback hits, and two sacks. On top of that, Ingram and Watt were able to draw four holding penalties together (and really could have drawn more). Statistically speaking the Steelers edge players were as good as they possibly could be. They also accomplished this despite not having Stephon Tuitt in the lineup, drawing double teams, nor did the Steelers show any other blitz looks. Throw in those factors and the Steelers trio is in great shape not only to replicate these gaudy numbers but to improve upon them.
The last truly dominating trio of edge rushers to will their team to the Super Bowl was the 2011 New York Giants. That team featured first team All-Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, former All-Pro Justin Tuck, and former All-Pro Osi Umenyiora. This group racked up 31.5 sacks, 50 QB hits, and 5 forced fumbles in the regular season, before really dialing it up and willing the Giants to a Super Bowl victory. We’ve seen other pass rush duos lead teams to championship’s after this (like the 2015 Denver Broncos Vonn Miller/Demarkus Ware) but trio’s are rare, and it appears the Steelers have the right three guys for the job.
T.J Watt is clearly the gem of the group and has already put himself on a pace that will put him in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year once again. Alex Highsmith took a massive step forward both both physically, and on the field skills, and Melvin Ingram looks like the Melvin Ingram of old who terrorized quarterbacks as a member of the Chargers. With the unselfishness displayed in the rotation between the three outside backers, all three guys will remain fresh all year round, and pace a level we have never really seen in Pittsburgh.
Melvin Ingram - what a Steelers debut! All over the place - lined up inside, outside, long stunts, speed, spins, pursuit… Forced couple holds. Huge impact— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) September 12, 2021
Took Dion Dawkins to the woodshed today… pic.twitter.com/SA0LLzf8Nu
But what do you think? Could these guys be the best trio of outside linebackers in Steelers history? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.