On Sept. 15 Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton appeared on The Cook & Joe Show on 93.7 FM The Fan in Pittsburgh to discuss the team’s upset win over the Bengals — and what fans can expect from the defense now that T.J. Watt will be out of the lineup for at least the next four games.
Along the way, Sutton was asked which team has the best defense in the NFL.
“Of course I’m going to say us, but it’s more than just a saying. We have to keep showing that week in and week out we have to prove it,” said the sixth-year cornerback, who the Steelers drafted in the third round in 2017 out of Tennessee.
“We’re playing tenacious football, guys are running around with high energy and we’re creating havoc,” he added. At least that was the case this past Sunday against Joe Burrow and the Bengals, when Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 338 yards passing and 133 yards rushing in 70 minutes of football, but also recorded seven sacks and forced five turnovers, including four interceptions of Burrow.
Sutton was responsible for one of those interceptions, which 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-plus games without the services of reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, who suffered a pectoral injury against the Bengals.
“T.J.’s approach to the game not gonna change… he’s still around the building, he’s still in meetings and out at practices on the field with us and still approaching every week like it’s regular game week. Obviously for us, we’ll make some minor adjustments — work some things,” said Sutton, referring to the team’s effort to fill the void.
Cameron Sutton: Alex Highsmith Poised to Become a Star
Meanwhile, Sutton also spoke highly of third-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.
“He had a great performance” against the Bengals, said Sutton, “but obviously that’s an expectation. We expect him to do that and he expects that for himself. That’s not necessarily a surprise that he was able to have the success he had week one. He’s a guy who comes in each and every day to put in the work … and it has paid off for him,” continued Sutton, referring to Highsmith’s three-sack performance, which included nine tackles (six solo), with two tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble.
Steelers’ Mike Tomlin: It Was a ‘Week 1 Performance’
However, it’s worth noting that Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has downplayed the defense’s first effort of 2022.
On the Sept. 17 edition of The Mike Tomlin Show, Bob Pompeani of KDKA-TV asked Tomlin how the team’s defensive performance against the Bengals ranked in terms of the best collective efforts he’s seen on that side of the ball.
“You know, it’s probably not in the discussions of the elite, to be honest with you. It’s a week 1 performance,” he began. “Their units hadn’t played a lot in the preseason (and) Joe Burrow had an appendectomy. There’s a lot of variables in September football that makes you temper your enthusiasm. When I think about dominant defensive performances, I think about the road getting more narrow and those things being revealed in January or December-like football.”
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