On Sept. 15, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton appeared on The Cook & Joe Show on 93.7 FM The Fan in Pittsburgh to talk about the team’s upset win over the Bengals — and what fans thought about the defense lineup for at least the next four games after TJ Watt’s elimination.
Along the way, Sutton was asked which team has the best defense in the NFL.
“Of course I’ll tell us, but it’s more than just a spell. We have to show week after week that we have to prove it,” said the sixth-year cornerback, who the Steelers drafted in the third round from Tennessee in 2017.
“We play tenacious football, the boys run around with full energy and wreak havoc,” he added. At least that was the case against Joe Burrow and the Bengals last Sunday, when the Pittsburgh defense allowed 338 passing yards and 133 rushing yards in 70 minutes of football, but also recorded seven sacks and forced five turnovers, including four Burrow interceptions.
Sutton was responsible for this one of those interceptionsthat came while the Steelers were leading the Bengals 17-3 in the second quarter.
But now the Steelers face the challenge of playing the next four games without the services of reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt, who sustained a chest injury against the Bengals.
“TJ’s approach to the game isn’t going to change … he’s still close to the building, he’s still in meetings and training on the field with us, and he’s still approaching each week like it’s a normal game week. Of course we’re going to be making some minor adjustments for ourselves — editing some things,” Sutton said, referring to the team’s efforts to fill the gap.
Meanwhile, Sutton also spoke highly of Alex Highsmith, the third-year outside linebacker.
“He had a great performance” against the Bengals, Sutton said, “but of course that’s an expectation. We expect him to do that and he expects that of himself. It’s not exactly a surprise that he was able to have the success he had in week one. He’s a guy who comes in to work every day… and it’s paid off for him,” Sutton continued, referring to Highsmith’s three-sack performance, which included nine tackles (six solo) and two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
However, it’s worth noting that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin downplayed the defense’s first attempt in 2022.
On the September 17 edition of The Mike Tomlin Show, KDKA-TV’s Bob Pompeani asked Tomlin how the team’s defensive performance against the Bengals ranked in terms of the best collective effort he’d seen this side of the ball.
“You know, it’s probably not in elite discussions, to be honest. It’s a week one performance,” he began. “Their units hadn’t played much in the preseason (and) Joe Burrow had appendectomy. There are many variables in September football that will cause you to dampen your enthusiasm. When I think about dominant defensive performances, I think of the path narrowing and those things being revealed in January or December like football.”