On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers managed a 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos at Heinz Field, thanks in large part to the efforts of the team’s front seven, including bookend edge rushers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree.
Today analyst Anthony Treash of Pro Football Focus published PFF’s Team of the Week, which features the top-grading players at their positions. This week the Steelers have two defensive players on the list, pending any possible adjustments after Monday Night Football, which pits the New Orleans Saints against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Edge Rusher T.J. Watt
One of the players is no surprise; in fact, this is the second consecutive week that Watt made PFF’s Team of the Week—and last week he was also PFF’s Week 1 Defensive MVP.
“This week, he had another incredible game by producing a 91.2 PFF grade and 38% pass-rush win rate, nearly 10 percentage points higher than any other edge rusher during week 2,” notes Treash. “This was Watt’s 11th regular-season game since 2018 in which he posted a PFF grade north of 80.0. That’s the most at the position in that span by four (the Bosa brothers are tied for second with seven each).”
Treash went on to note that Watt’s “speed rip gave Denver’s tackles fits all game,” adding, “We’ve become accustomed to naming players like his brother, J.J. Watt, or Khalil Mack or Von Miller as the best edge rusher in the NFL, but I think T.J. is separating himself from the pack and becoming the best.”
DI Tyson Alualu
As for the other Steelers player who earned Team of the Week honors, well, that’s more of a surprise, at least if you forget about his draft pedigree. Interior defensive lineman Tyson Alualu has produced a 91.1 PFF grade this season over the course of 65 total snaps—40 against the pass and 25 against the run. He was particularly good against the Broncos, authoring three solo tackles along with two assists, plus a sack, one tackle for loss and one pass defensed.
Recall that Aluala was a Top Ten pick in the NFL Draft, selected tenth overall in by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2010 draft out of the University of California.
2 Denver Broncos Defenders Earned Week 2 Honors
If you’re thinking that Pittsburgh’s offense should have been a little more effective against the Broncos, keep in mind that Denver had a couple of exceptionally high achievers out there on Sunday as well. Interior defensive lineman Shelby Harris made PFF’s Team of the Week—right alongside Alualu—as did safety Justin Simmons, who had seven tackles and one assist and one tackle for loss. Most notably, he also intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and have two passes defensed.
It was, however, a painful day for the Broncos from an injury perspective. Not only did Bud Dupree injure Broncos starting quarterback Drew Lock, leaving him with a bad rotator cuff strain that is expected to keep him out 3-5 weeks—Denver lost Pro Bowl wide receiver Courtland Sutton for the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL.
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