It hasn’t always resulted in sacks but the Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the best pressure rates in the NFL. In a tweet sent out yesterday from NFL Matchup, Pittsburgh ranks 4th in the NFL in pressure percentage.
Getting after the QB drives everything else that happens for a defense- these teams are applying the most pressure this season.#LARams #GoPats #DUUUVAL #HereWeGo #GoPackGo #RaiderNation #GoBucs #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/PPsl77uc91
— NFL Matchup on ESPN (@NFLMatchup) October 9, 2018
The Steelers are generating pressure more than a-third of the time, trailing only the LA Rams, New England Patriots, and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Based on our charting, the top pressure leaders in Pittsburgh are:
T.J. Watt: 20
Bud Dupree: 16
Cam Heyward: 8
Watt, posting three sacks Sunday, finished the game with seven total pressures. Heyward bounced back with three of them, including a sack, walking back center Alex Mack into Matt Ryan’s lap.
— Steelers Depot (@Steelersdepot) October 9, 2018
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 9, 2018
In part, that’s due to Keith Butler being more blitz-heavy than any season before. Before Sunday’s game, he was blitzing at a 43% clip. Against the Atlanta Falcons, Butler blitzed 44% of the time, right in-line with the seasonal average. L.J. Fort tied Heyward with three pressures Sunday while Mike Hilton had a pair and Jon Bostic with one.
When it comes to sacks, the Steelers rank even better. They lead the league with 19 in that category, one more than the Chicago Bears, who went out and added Khalil Mack this year. To that point, there’s a certain amount of justice that Oakland is last in the league in pressures.
Unfortunately, some of that pressure and sacks have been inconsistent. Thirteen of those have come in Weeks One and Five; seven versus Cleveland, six against Atlanta.
Still, it’s hard to argue with overall production. Their 19 sacks are two more than after five games last season, where they finished with a league-high and franchise record of 56. And it’s their most in five games since 2001, when they had 21. That year, they wound up with 55 (also a league high), finished 13-3, and went to the AFC Title Game.
Hypothetically, if the Steelers remained on their current pace, they’d have 60 total sacks by the end of the year, the first team to cross the 60 barrier since the Carolina Panthers in 2013.