Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

10 Winners and 6 Losers after the Steelers Week 5 win over the Ravens

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday for the fifth game of the 2023 regular season when they played the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 of regular season action. The Steelers were winners in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.

Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game…

Winners

Jaylen Warren
Stat Line: 9 carries, 40 yards, 4.4 ave., 0 TD, 16 yd long / 3 rec., 39 yards, 13.0 ave., 23 long, 3 targets

Bryan Davis called Warren the “pinball wizard” due to him seemingly always bouncing off would-be tacklers and extending plays. I loved the nickname, and Warren continues to make plays when they look like they’re dead. The stat line speaks for itself, but I don’t want to forget to add Warren’s incredible pass protection. His blitz pick-ups have been phenomenal, and a huge bright spot on the offense.

Pass Rush
Stat Line: 4 sacks, 6 QB hits

A week after getting skunked vs. the Houston Texans and C.J. Stroud, the Steelers were in Lamar Jackson’s grill almost every drop back in the second half. Every single pressure was needed as well. We’ll get into the specific shortly…

Alex Highsmith
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 FF

When talking about Highsmith, and the next guy on the list, I always think about what people say about super heroes. “Super heroes save the day”. That’s exactly what Highsmith is doing this season, even if his overall stats don’t shine as bright at Watt’s. Highsmith is maximizing his presence opposite Watt, and they create the best pass rushing duo in the NFL.

T.J. Watt
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 2 solo, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 pass defensed, 2 QB Hits, 1 FR

Speaking of super hero, is there anything this guy can’t do? Watt continues to defy logic in ways he can impact a game. He is probably disappointed he didn’t scoop-and-score after getting the fumble which was created on Highsmith’s strip sack. Nonetheless, T.J. Watt’s 8 sacks after 5 games proves the kind of tear he is currently on this season.

George Pickens
Stat Line: 6 rec., 130 yards, 21.7 ave., 1 TD, 41 long, 10 targets / 1 rush, 16 yards

Pickens has been really good this season, and most would say he isn’t ready for the genuine WR1 role. This experience is something which can only benefit the offense once Diontae Johnson returns from his hamstring injury. Having two wide receivers who can be threats absolutely will help the lethargic offense find some life through the air. Nonetheless, Pickens has been dominant at times, and it came at a great time in Week 5.

Kenny Pickett
Stat Line: 18/32, 224 yards, 7.0 ave., 1 TD, 0 INT, 3 sacks for 22 yards, 88.5 Rating

I wasn’t sure if I was going to put Pickett on the winners list, but after thinking about how the game unfolded, I believe a huge positive play can negate some negative play. In this regard, the way Pickett finished the game absolutely puts him on the winner list. However, it doesn’t mean his play is perfect, or even good. He needs to be better, but he absolutely has that “it” factor which can be a remedy for some of the poor play fans have seen this season.

Joey Porter Jr.
Stat Line: 2 tackles, 1 pass defense, 1 INT

The Steelers have slow rolled getting Joey Porter Jr. on the field, but I don’t know if that will continue following the bye week. Porter Jr. put an exclamation point on his play with the key interception of Lamar Jackson in the end-zone in the 4th quarter. He is the future at the position, and there will be bumps in the road, but it absolutely is time to see JPJ on the field more.

Miles Killebrew
Stat Line: Blocked punt

Some will say “Renegade” was the turning point, but to me it was Killebrew’s blocked punt which was the spring board for the Steelers come-from-behind victory. Killebrew is a valuable asset to the team on special teams, and he continues to prove that year after year.

Takeaways
Stat Line: 3 total

Back in the takeaway game, and the Steelers needed every single one to win this game. Huge shout out to Larry Ogunjobi’s hustle play to force the fumble on Justice Hill.

Broderick Jones
Stat Line: 0 sacks surrendered, great first start

In Jones’ first career start he did more than just held his own, he played well. Jones was able to not surrender a sack, and looked good in the run game. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a great step in the right direction for a young, and hopefully lengthy, career at left tackle in Pittsburgh.


Losers

1st Half 3rd Down Defense
Stat Line: Gave up several third-and-longs

The third-and-long scenario was not the Steelers friend in Week 5, especially in the first half. When you win these games, it can be excused; however, when it becomes a habit it can become problematic.

3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 6-for-15

The above stat line is far from the 50% we all desire.

Rush Offense
Stat Line: 87 yards, 30 carries, 2.9 yard average

The Steelers inability to have a stable running game might be equally as problematic as the overall offense’s issues. 2.9 yards per carry is just not good enough, and will have to improve if this offense wants to take strides coming out of the bye week.

1st Half Run Defense
Stat Line: 125 yards, 25 carries, 5.0 average

The overall stat line for the Steelers run defense looks bad, but the main issues were in the first half. In fact, the Ravens rushed for over 100 yards in the first half, which points to be a big turnaround in the second half.

Officiating
Stat Line: No penalties on BAL in entire first half, only 2 total

The first penalty wasn’t called on Baltimore until the 3rd quarter. I think that’s laughable and highly unlikely, putting it mildly.

Gunner Olszewski
Stat Line: Crucial fumble

I’m not sure why Gunner was tasked with replacing Calvin Austin III when Desmond King is capable. I also don’t know why CA3 wasn’t back returning kicks if he was cleared of a concussion and was put on the field in offensive situations. Nothing makes sense, but Gunner’s fumble likely seals his fate as being released, or a regular inactive, once Diontae Johnson returns from IR.


If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!

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