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T.J. Watt tops the Steelers defensive Pro Football Focus grades for Week 18

In the grades provided by PFF, Watt scored higher against the run than rushing the passer.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have qualified for the 2021 NFL postseason. To do their part, the Steelers defeated the Ravens in Baltimore in overtime to finish off the season. In the cold, wind, and rain, the Steelers defense held the Ravens to 13 points while the offense came up with a late touchdown and key conversions in overtime to win the game.

But how did the individual players grade out?

For this exercise, we will be looking at the player grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for their Week 18 performance. These scores are just from Sunday’s game and not for the entire season. Before going any further, I must give the typical disclaimer that PFF grades are subjective. While some people rely on them heavily, others are quite skeptical of the process in which they are determined. It is completely up to each person as to how much stock they put into PFF’s grades. For me, I often look at the grades to see if my own “eye test” lines up with what others viewed as how a player performed. If nothing more, the grades create a discussion about how accurate, or inaccurate, they are each week.

Instead of looking at the entire team at once, we break up the scores into offense and defense. Next up is the defense. Included will be all the players who played at least one defensive snap and the total snap counts for each player will be included. For reference sake, the Steelers played 71 snaps on defense in Week 18. *NOTE: PFF included the fake punt as a defensive play rather than special teams, so those players only playing that one snap are not included and snaps totals have been adjusted accordingly.


Overall

Top 5 (regardless of position)

OLB T.J. Watt: 88.9 (61 snaps)
CB Cam Sutton: 88.8 (71 snaps)
S Miles Killebrew: 88.3 (6 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 76.0 (71 snap)
ILB Marcus Allen: 71.3 (8 snaps)

Bottom 5 (regardless of position)

CB Arthur Maulet: 51.3 (18 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 50.9 (49 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 49.0 (57 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 47.1 (14 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 43.3 (68 snaps)


Defensive Front Seven

OLB T.J. Watt: 88.9 (61 snaps)
DT Henry Mondeaux: 67.7 (7 snaps)
DT Cam Heyward: 67.5 (60 snaps)
OLB Derrek Tuszka: 64.4 (7 snaps)
DT Montravius Adams: 55.7 (35 snaps)
OLB Taco Charlton: 54.9 (6 snaps)
DT Chris Wormley: 49.0 (57 snaps)
DT Isaiahh Loudermilk: 47.1 (14 snaps)
OLB Alex Highsmith: 43.3 (68 snaps)

Despite having a surprisingly low tackling score of 33.8, T.J. Watt was on top of both the position group and the overall scores for the defense. Henry Mondeaux found himself at the top rather than the bottom in his limited snaps and Cam Heyward once again had a solid performance. Seeing Alex Highsmith at the bottom was mainly due to a 37.8 run defense score this week, although he did have a 75.2 tackling score.

Inside Linebackers

ILB Marcus Allen: 71.3 (8 snaps)
ILB Joe Schobert: 60.5 (29 snaps)
ILB Robert Spillane: 59.1 (48 snaps)
ILB Devin Bush: 50.9 (49 snaps)

It is interesting that the order of the scores goes in the opposite order of the snap counts. Marcus Allen did score well but with very limited playing time. Devin Bush once again struggled at times but did at least pull a score in the 50s and had his typical high score in the tackling department with a 76.1 for the week. It was ultimately Bush’s 40.9 coverage score which brought down his grade.

Defensive Backs

CB Cam Sutton: 88.8 (71 snaps)
S Miles Killebrew: 88.3 (6 snaps)
S Minkah Fitzpatrick: 76.0 (71 snap)
CB Joe Haden: 69.3 (26 snaps)
S Terrell Edmunds: 64.9 (71 snaps)
S Tre Norwood: 63.8 (7 snaps)
CB Ahkello Witherspoon: 56.6 (62 snaps)
CB Arthur Maulet: 51.3 (18 snaps)

Cam Sutton came through for the Steelers with a key end zone interception and had the top coverage score of 89.0 against the Ravens which was in the top 10 of the NFL for the week. It was also nice to see Minkah Fitzpatrick in the top five again as he had a nice game and a key pass break up on the sideline. Terrell Edmunds would have had a much higher score as he had a very good 81.2 coverage score but only 27.8 run defense score.


So, what do you think of the above grades? Do they pass the eye test? Let us know your thoughts on the Steelers’ defensive grades in the comments below.