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Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith Wins AFC Defensive Player of the Week



Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith
Steelers OLB Alex Highsmith scores a touchdown after interception Deshaun Watson, Sept. 19, 2023 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award for his performance against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, the NFL announced on Wednesday.

Highsmith helped the Steelers win the game, notching a pick-six to open the game against Deshuan Watson and orchestrating the game-winning strip-sack to put the team ahead. Overall, he racked up five pressures and the sack on the day. The tape shows even more dominance from Highsmith, who turned into the real problem for the Browns as they were bent on helping rookie Dawand Jones against T.J. Watt.

Alex Highsmith is now putting together a solid start to the season a year after coming off a 14.5 sack year. Highsmith broke down that strip-sack and interception. He noted that it all came together with the energy that he and Watt created. Watt even threw the love back, and the two have created one of the more fearsome pass rush duos in the entire NFL due to their growth together. With Highsmith now around for the foreseeable future, that group will remain strong.

This is the second time Highsmith has won the AFC Defensive Player of the Week Award, notching the same award in Week 10 last year against the New Orleans Saints. Pittsburgh paid Highsmith handsomely this summer to keep the tandem of pass rushers together. That now seems like a win, as the Steelers pass rush has given teams trouble to start the year.

Deshaun Watson got sacked six times by the fearsome defensive front, even without star defensive end Cam Heyward in the fold. The Steelers need production from guys like Watt and Highsmith for that front to stay afloat. They got more than enough production from those guys and, with help from Larry Ogunjobi and others, remained a stout front against a solid offensive line.