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Steelers Pass Rush Disappears in Playoff Loss to Browns

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Of all that went wrong in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first round playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night, their lack of a pass rush may have been the most glaring.

The Steelers failed to reach Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, snapping their streak of 73-straight games with a sack. Pittsburgh did not even record a quarterback hit on Mayfield Sunday night.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers posted just a 13.9% pressure rate in the loss, by far their lowest of the season.

Considered the favorite to win NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt was a shell of himself Sunday, recording just three total tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a pass defended. Watt had paced the league in sacks (15), tackles-for-loss (23) and quarterback hits (41) during the regular season.

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Rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith did not fair well either, recording just two tackles before exiting his first career playoff game due to injury.

Pittsburgh’s lack of a pass rush came as a shock, considering their 56 sacks in 2020 tied a franchise record. The Steelers have also posted 50 or more sacks in four-straight season.

Without their pass rush generating consistent pressure, the Steelers defense was torched for 48 points and 390 yards of total offense in Sunday’s defeat.

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