The Pittsburgh Steelers may have lost the game on Sunday, but one could make a compelling case that they were the better team overall, judging from a play-to-play basis. Minus some huge mistakes, most notably a string of costly turnovers, there were a lot of positives to take away from the game.
A small bit of evidence to that fact comes courtesy of Pro Football Focus, which placed three members of the Steelers on their Team of the Week for Week 12. The three players representing the black and gold for the Denver Broncos game are left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, defensive end Cameron Heyward, and linebacker Vince Williams.
Giving him an overall grade of 89.0 for the game, the site writes of Villanueva’s effort, “his touchdown reception on the fake field goal will be how his day was remembered, but Villanueva earns his spot on the Team of the Week thanks to his work in pass protection, where he allowed just one pressure from 64 pass-blocking snaps”.
In case you were wondering, his touchdown reception does not factor into his positional grade.
Heyward recorded three tackles, a pass defensed, and split a sack with Javon Hargrave in Sunday’s game, marking the third consecutive game in which he has at least half a sack. PFF noticed his efforts, giving him a grade of 92.0.
“Harris wasn’t the only player to dominate on the defensive interior in the Steelers-Broncos game, with Heyward having a significant impact on the opposite side. From 23 pass-rushing snaps, he racked up a sack and five hits and had a defensive stop against the run too”.
The player referred to would be Broncos lineman Shelby Harris, who recorded the game-clinching interception and also had a sack, joining Heyward on the Team of the Week for defensive interior players.
Finally, there was Williams, whom the site gave a game grade of 91.5, finishing with three tackles, a sack, and a quarterback hit. “Williams made an impact as a blitzer, with a sack and a hit from seven pass-rushing snaps”, the article reads. “On top of that, he also made an impact against the run and in coverage, with all three of his tackles on the day resulting in a defensive stop”.
In anticipating your question, no, JuJu Smith-Schuster did not make the Team of the Week, and in fact was not even close. Amari Cooper and Keenan Allen received that recognition. In looking at the site’s wide receiver grades for Week 12, Smith-Schuster’s grade of 76.1 ranked ninth among receivers with at least eight targets.