The Steelers secured a 10-win season after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18, and also finished 5-1 in the AFC North. There are plenty of guys who came to play in the awful weather conditions, so, for potentially the final time this season, here are the Varsity and JV performers.
QB Mason Rudolph
While it was far from pretty due to the wet football and bad snaps, Rudolph completed 90 percent of his passes, including the eventual game-winning 71-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. Over the last three games Rudolph has started, he finished with a passer rating of 115 and didn’t turn throw a pick. The Steelers aren’t in the position to make the playoffs without Rudolph, and he’ll be getting a nice pay day this offseason.
RB Najee Harris
Harris finished the year with his second straight game with 25+ carries and over 100 yards. The Steelers rode Harris for 112 yards and one touchdown on 26 carries. It was nice to see the former first-round pick end the season on such a high note. He is now the first Steelers running back in team history to start his career with three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.
WR Diontae Johnson
The last two weeks, George Pickens has been Rudolph’s go-to guy. In Week 18, though, Diontae Johnson was the one with the big play. He caught for passes for 89 yards in a soggy M&T Bank Stadium, including the 71-yard score that ended up being the difference maker for the Steelers.
Specifically Isaac Seumalo, who had a great game on the interior. He flattened Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike on a trap block to spring open a gap for Najee Harris to run through for the game’s first touchdown. The Steelers ended the day with 155 yards on the ground.
S Eric Rowe
The Steelers need to bring Rowe back in 2024. He once again led the team in tackles and filled in brilliantly for Minkah Fitzpatrick on the back end. Elandon Roberts said after the game that the Steelers nicknamed the backup safety “Death Rowe”- there’s no way you can move on from him now, that’s too cool. He has been a legitimate difference-maker since the Steelers signed him off the couch a month ago. Hopefully they keep him around.
EDGE T.J. Watt
Obviously, the injury put a damper on what was a great game from Watt. He had two sacks to give him 19 on the year, which leads the NFL. He had an additional three tackles for loss and two more hits on Tyler Huntley, as well. He’s the best defensive player in football, and will hopefully be recognized as such with another Defensive Player of the Year honor.
EDGE Alex Highsmith
Highmsith was getting constant pressure on Tyler Huntley. I haven’t seen the official number yet, but one thing is sure about Highsmith- he was worth what the Steelers paid him. The raw numbers won’t look as good as they did last year, but his 2023 season was better than his 2022 season, which is saying a lot.
EDGE Markus Golden
Golden filled in nicely for Watt after he went down. He had three tackles, two of which were for loss, a quarterback hit, and a sack. Golden was such a nice pickup as a depth edge rusher, and he made the most of his snaps this season.
LB Mark Robinson
Robinson was flying all over the field. He sped through the middle on a delayed blitz to get a sack, and also had a tackle for loss- easily his best game of the year.
LB Elandon Roberts
Roberts played with basically one arm. His numbers weren’t anything crazy, but man alive that took a lot of heart and, frankly, a lot of balls to go out there and play.
RB Jaylen Warren
That may have been Warren’s worst game as a pro. He fumbled twice, losing one, and only had one play of note.
LT Dan Moore
The Steelers need to do something different at left tackle next season. Moore was eaten alive multiple times, including once by soon-to-be 33 year old Kyle Van Noy. A new left tackle who can actually pass protect is a must.
C Mason Cole
Here is the part where I tell you what you already know, and have known all year about Mason Cole. More bad snaps, more bad reps in both run and pass pro- he’s not good. He’ll be gone next season.
P Pressley Harvin
He is legitimately the worst punter in football, and has been since he entered the league. The only reason, logically, that he has stuck around is because he’s a good holder for Chris Boswell.