After losing a star defensive lineman for the rest of the season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ entire defense could be doomed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense has quickly become one of the best units in the entire NFL. With an aggressive front seven and a secondary that has been bolstered by the arrival of Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Steelers have overcome a slow start to become a unit that no offense wants to face. In their Week Six win against the Los Angeles Chargers, that defense was once again elite, shutting down their opponent until a fourth-quarter run made the score look close. Unfortunately, the Steelers lost a significant part of their defense, as defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt was lost for the season with a torn pectoral. Tuitt is one of the team’s premier players, and now that his season is gone, it could have a ripple effect on the entire Pittsburgh defense.
Tuitt was in the midst of one of his best seasons to date. With 3.5 sacks and 22 tackles, Tuitt has been a presence in opposing backfields all season long. Even when not coming away with sacks, Tuitt has been able to get pressure with regularity, and his ability to force bad throws has been key to the secondary’s improved play. Tuitt’s play has been one of the brightest spots in a rough season, and, unfortunately, the team is going to have to play without him.
Ultimately, the Steelers defense faces a tough test without Tuitt moving forward. Tyson Alualu played well in relief on Sunday night, but it remains to be seen whether he can hold up as a full-time starter. This defense’s effectiveness has relied upon all units working together. Losing Tuitt’s impact affects every other part of the Steelers defensive unit. This is the type of injury that has the potential to doom everything the team has built this season on that side of the ball.