Steelers stock up, stock down after win over Seahawks: T.J. Watt makes case for Defensive Player of the Year


We’re not quite at Halloween, but that didn’t deter T.J. Watt from dressing up on Sunday night. Watt put on his Superman cape in overtime, forcing two sacks that included a strip-sack that set up Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal. By virtue of their 23-20 win over the visiting Seahawks, the Steelers are now 3-3 as they head into their Week 7 bye. Not only have they caught the Browns (3-3), the Steelers are in striking distance of the second-place Bengals (4-2) and first place Ravens (5-1) in the AFC North standings. 

For a second straight week, the Steelers enjoyed a sizable lead before having to withstand a gallant second-half comeback by the opposition. Pittsburgh led Seattle 14-0 halftime and were up 17-7 with under six minutes let in the third quarter before the Seahawks scored 13 of the game’s next 16 points to force overtime. By as they did the previous week against the Broncos, the Steelers came up with just enough plays late in the game to come away with a win. Watt led Pittsburgh’s defensive charge, while the Steelers’ offense received another solid performance from rookie running back Najee Harris, who tallied 127 total yards and a touchdown on 30 touches. 

Here’s a look at the Steelers whose stock went up and whose stock went down following their Week 6 win over Seattle. 

Stock up: T.J. Watt 

Watt has more than justified his new contract that has made him the NFL‘s highest-paid defensive player. Watt finished Sunday night’s game with seven tackles (three tackles for loss) to go with his two sacks in overtime. The first sack was a third-down tackle of Seattle quarterback Geno Smith that forced a punt. On Seattle’s first play of their next drive, Watt fought through a double-team before finding his way to Smith, who began to take off down the middle of the field. Watt’s hit caused a fumble that was scooped up by Devin Bush, thus setting up Boswell’s game-winning field goal. In five games this season, Watt has seven sacks, seven tackles for loss, and a league-high three forced fumbles. Last night should only increase Watt’s odds at winning Defensive Player of the Year at season’s end. 

Stock down: Chris Wormley/Isaiah Buggs 

Down 14-0 at halftime, Seattle came out for the second half determined to run the ball against the Steelers’ defense. The result was Alex Collins looking like Barry Sanders, as Collins shredded Pittsburgh’s run defense to the tune of 101 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. While it wasn’t entirely their faults, the Steelers need more from their other starters on the defensive line not named Cameron Heyward, especially until Stephon Tuitt can return to the fold. 

Highsmith’s stock was down following Pittsburgh’s win over Denver. He responded with his best game to date, as the second-year outside linebacker recorded 1.5 sacks to go with seven tackles and two tackles for loss. His first sack — which came against veteran offensive tackle Duane Brown — ended Seattle’s final drive of the first half. With Seattle just seven yards away from taking the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, Highsmith and Wormley combined to bring down Smith for a 15-yard loss on third down, as the Seahawks were forced to settle for a game-tying field goal. 

Stock down: Inside linebackers 

All three levels of Pittsburgh’s defense could have done more to stop Seattle’s running game, and that certainly includes the inside linebackers. Sans Bush’s fumble recovery in overtime, the unit failed to make any splash plays. They also missed several tackles or — as was the case for Joe Schobert on Smith’s 41-yard completion to Gerald Everett that set up Seattle’s second touchdown — allowed the ballcarrier to gain for extra yards before ultimately making the tackle. 

Stock up: Cameron Heyward 

During Sunday night’s broadcast, NBC Sports NFL color analyst Chris Collinsworth called Heyward a “no question Hall of Famer.” Heyward’s stat line on Sunday night was certainly Hall of Fame worthy. The 11-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler tallied nine tackles (six solo stops), two tackles for loss and a sack of Smith that ended Seattle’s last full drive of the first half. On the play prior to his sack, Heyward’s pressure on Smith forced an incomplete pass. Heyward’s 60 career sacks is now tied for the fifth-most in franchise history with former Steelers All-Pro linebacker Joey Porter. 

Pittsburgh’s fourth-round pick continues to go through the growing pains associated with being a rookie starting left tackle. Moore gave up the only sack of Ben Roethlisberger on Sunday night and allowed several other pressures during the game. Moore has shown significant potential and appears to be getting better with each start, particularly in the running game. But as he gains experience, Moore will probably continue to suffer a setback or two. Moore also endured a hip injury during Sunday night’s game; expect Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to address his status during his weekly Tuesday press conference. 

With JuJu Smith-Schuster injured, Pittsburgh’s rookie tight end picked up the slack as he finished Sunday night’s game with seven receptions (on 12 targets) for 58 yards. He had several key grabs that included a 12-yard reception that set up the Steelers’ first touchdown. Fans should expect similar outputs from Freiermuth for the remainder of the season, as defenses will likely continue to focus more on stopping receivers Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the outside. 

Stock down: Keith Butler 

Butler is a well-established coach and has enjoyed a highly-successful run as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator. But in consecutive weeks, his unit gave up touchdowns on essentially the same play. A week after Teddy Bridgewater threw a red zone touchdown pass off of a play-action rollout to his right, Smith followed suit on a one-yard touchdown pass to Will Dissly that made it a three-point game in the third quarter. The Steelers have to find a defensive that can work against that play moving forward. 

Pittsburgh’s rookie cornerback made several key plays on third down. His third play took place after Seattle was poised to take the lead following Roethlisberger’s fumble less than four minutes into the third quarter. Defending a third-and-10 on their own 35-yard-line, Norwood tackled receiver Freddie Swain for a four-yard loss, knocking Seattle out of field goal range. 

Stock down: Matt Canada 

Canada deserves kudos for calling the jet sweep to Eric Ebron that produced the Steelers’ second touchdown. And overall, the offense has made strides under his watch over the last two weeks. But there were too many third downs where Roethlisberger completed passes that fell well short of the first down sticks. Roethlisberger is also accountable for those plays, but Canada has to come up with more third down throws that are past the first down markers. 

Stock up: Chris Boswell 

Boswell continues to make his case as the greatest kicker in franchise history. He made each of his three field goal attempts on Sunday night that included a go-ahead, 52-yard field goal with 1:30 left in regulation. His 37-yard field goal in overtime won the game. Boswell has made 93.6% of his field goal attempts (59 of 63) since the start of the 2019 season. 

Stock down: Cleveland Browns 

The Steelers are no longer alone in last place in the AFC North following Sunday’s slate of games. The Browns are also 3-3 after Cleveland’s 37-14 loss to the Cardinals. The Browns are currently dealing with a rash of injuries that includes Baker Mayfield’s dislocated shoulder. Cleveland will look to right the ship against the Broncos at home next Sunday before hosing the Steelers in Week 8. The Steelers will be rested for that game as they are going into their Week 7 bye. 





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