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Steelers Have Top Pass-Rushing Duo, But Not Who You Might Think



Steelers T.J. Watt Alex Highsmith Cam Heyward

The Pittsburgh Steelers have the top pass-rushing duo in the NFL, according to a recent ranking by Bleacher Report, but it might not be the duo that you’d think.

Bleacher Report contributor Maurice Moton ranked Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt and defensive tackle Cam Heyward as the nation’s top tandem of quarterback harassers.

“Unlike anyone else on this list, Watt has led the NFL in sacks twice, and he’s won Defensive Player of the Year,” Moton wrote. “If he puts an injury-riddled 2022 campaign behind him, expect the three-time All-Pro to log double-digit sacks for a fifth season. …

“Heyward has aged well with six consecutive Pro Bowl years going back to 2017 and three All-Pro years in the same span. He’s coming off back-to-back 10-plus sack seasons with at least 30 pressures in four straight years.”

But that leaves out the Steelers other outside linebacker, and the guy that led the team in sacks in 2022, Alex Highsmith. Moton gave Heyward the nod because of his body of work with Watt, and wasn’t just considering the 2022 season.

Since Highsmith came into the league in 2020, he has 20.5 sacks, while Heyward has 24.5 and Watt an astonishing 43. So it tracks that at least for the last three years, Heyward and Watt have been the Steelers sack kings. But Highsmith has been coming on strong with his team-best 14.5 sacks in 2022 while Watt was banged up.

“Next year, Highsmith could be in this spot if he has another strong showing in 2023,” Moton wrote.

Of course, if the Steelers want Highsmith to be a part of their pass rushing group beyond 2023, they’ll need to work out a contract extension with the free-agent to-be this offseason.