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Tee Higgins Smashes Steelers Secondary in Bengals Win



Tee Higgins

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers had no answer for Tee Higgins. With no Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati hopped on the Higgins train, and it was going about as hot as it could be on Sunday evening. Higgins torched everyone in the Steelers’ secondary en route a 148-yard performance on nine catches.

All in all, five different Steelers defensive backs allowed a catch to Higgins. With the Steelers playing so much man-to-man the Clemson product feasted, and even though the Steelers did disguise some of their coverages, it was no use for Joe Burrow and Higgins. Levi Wallace was one of the cornerbacks that went toe-to-toe with Higgins, and he saw what Cincinnati did to make him so effective. They moved him around and exploited mismatches that they saw.

“I think they do a great job of scheming him to get open,” Wallace said. Not giving us the same looks, different routes when they do show the same looks. So, he’s a good player. Good players make good plays.”

Burrow and Zac Taylor consistently talk to Higgins, who suggests routes to run based on the looks he is seeing. That is unique enough as is for a supposed No. 2 receiver, but it seems like this could be the game to prove that Higgins might just be a true No. 1 receiver. Burrow certainly thinks that, and Taylor is not far behind in that thinking.

“When his number’s called, you just expect him to make the play every single time,” Taylor said. “And he and Joe just have such a great rapport. Tee is such a smart football player. He’s got a great understanding of when the ball’s going to come his way. He did a great job communicating with me on some routes that he wanted as the game went based on how they were playing him. I thought that was awesome.”

With the Bengals moving him around so much, Wallace acknowledged it simply made things a lot tougher to deal with. Tee Higgins ran different routes and had specific reads against different leverages. With Pittsburgh playing a man-coverage-heavy brand in the secondary, it complicated things with Higgins even more.

“They were really just scheming him around, moving him off guys,” Wallace said. “Man, they got him off the ball. That is a fantastic player to play. They did an awesome job moving him all over the place, especially with Chase out.”

Seeing him every year, Higgins has gotten the better of Pittsburgh more than once. But without Chase in the lineup as well, the Steelers’ secondary feels like the blew a golden opportunity, and Higgins helped pick up much of the slack that Chase would have had otherwise.

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