Though the Seahawks gave a valiant effort tying the Steelers twice in the second half and forcing overtime on Sunday Night Football, coach Pete Carroll's club wasn't quite able to escape Heinz Field with a victory and fell just short in a gut-wrenching 23-20 overtime loss.
While Seattle's latest loss dropped the team to 2-4 on the season, plenty of players stepped up to the occasion with standout performances in defeat. Here are my top five grades along with other notable performances on both sides of the ball.
Overall Grade: 89.0 (Coverage 92, Tackling 94, Run Defense 82)
Thrown into the fire in his first NFL regular season game, Brown subbed in for Sidney Jones at left cornerback on Seattle's third defensive possession and immediately showed he was ready for the prime time stage. He produced two tackles on the drive and then took away a deep ball from Ben Roethlisberger to Diontae Johnson using outstanding technique to seal off the receiver and lead to an errant overthrow, forcing a Pittsburgh punt. After Jones departed with a concussion in the second half, the fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma continued to come up with clutch plays in the secondary, playing tight defense on Chase Claypool to force a first down incompletion and then blowing up Ray-Ray McCloud for a crucial third down stop in overtime to send the ball back to the offense for a shot to win the game. Logging 40 snaps, Brown finished with three tackles and allowed only two receptions for nine yards on five targets, earning himself extensive playing time moving forward.
Overall Grade: 86.5 (Rushing 95, Receiving 77, Pass Blocking 86)
With Seattle's offense sputtering as a whole, Collins only carried the ball four times in the first half for 19 yards. But at halftime, Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron decided it was time to get back to running the football and made a statement on the opening drive of the third quarter by feeding him early and often. Providing a much-needed spark for the second time in three weeks, the ex-Arkansas star found huge creases to run through created by the offensive line and finished runs with authority, dragging defenders for extra yardage, slipping through arm tackle attempts, and spinning away from traffic. Toting the rock eight times for 58 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard scamper, he scored from two yards out to trim the Steelers lead to 14-7. Prior to exiting with glute and hip injuries late in regulation, Collins became the first back since Chris Carson in December 2019 to hit the 100-yard rushing mark and also made a couple nice blocks in pass protection.
Overall Grade: 86.0 (Coverage 80, Tackling 95, Run Defense 87)
Coming off a poor game by his standards in a loss to the Rams in Week 5, Wagner played an instrumental role in helping neutralize Steelers running back Najee Harris, who was held to 28 rushing yards in the first half and finished with only 81 yards on the evening. The six-time All-Pro selection racked up 14 tackles, including three stops limiting Harris to two or less yards on the ground, while also making two additional tackles on third down to force punts. From the outset, as he's done throughout his career, he was all over the field making stops around the line of scrimmage and chasing down plays sideline-to-sideline. In coverage, although Roethlisberger completed all five of his targets against him for 36 yards, Wagner limited Harris, Pat Freiermuth, and Eric Ebron to just 13 yards after the catch and yielded only one first down reception and no touchdowns.
Overall Grade: 83.0 (Coverage 90, Tackling 78, Run Defense 82)
Since moving back to right cornerback in Week 4, Reed has found his groove and continued his stellar play on Sunday against the Steelers. Roethlisberger attempted to test him on the second drive of the game, taking a downfield shot to Johnson down the numbers on first down. But Reed did an excellent job of recovering, tracking, and playing the ball, reaching up and swatting the pass away for an incompletion. Two plays later, the Steelers were forced to punt. Later in the third quarter, with Pittsburgh facing 3rd and 7, Reed played press coverage against Claypool and settled in front of him on a curl, nearly picking off a pressured Roethlisberger and again forcing the opposition to punt the football. While he did allow four receptions for 61 yards and four first downs, including a 23-yarder to Johnson, and missed a pair of tackles, the veteran corner performed well most of the night producing nine combined tackles and two pass breakups.
Overall Grade: 81.5 (Passing 83, Rushing 65*)
*Weighted for only one rushing attempt
Stepping into the lineup to replace Wilson, Smith turned in a solid outing in his first start since 2017, completing 23 out of 32 passes for 209 yards and throwing a touchdown to tight end Will Dissly. Supported by a strong run game in the second half, the veteran signal caller was especially efficient in the final three quarters, completing 15 out of 18 passes for 146 yards and averaging 8.1 yards per attempt. He looked to have the Seahawks in position to score on the opening drive in overtime after feathering a perfectly thrown 21-yard completion to Tyler Lockett over the outstretched arm of linebacker Devin Bush. By all accounts, he played well enough to get the win. Unfortunately, pass protection broke down a few plays later and he was sacked, bringing Michael Dickson on for a punt. That was the story of the game for Smith, as an otherwise quality outing was marred by taking too many sacks and losing a crucial fumble in overtime to set the Steelers up for a game-winning field goal.
Other Notable Performances
While the Seahawks struggled to protect Smith when he dropped back to pass and surrendered 11 total pressures and five sacks, center Kyle Fuller wasn't part of the problem. Continuing to play better by week, he opened up a crease for Collins on his 21-yard gain and allowed only a single pressure all night in pass protection, earning a season-best 80.0 overall grade. On the flip side, tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell combined to allow five pressures and a pair of sacks, receiving 66.0 and 64.0 pass protection grades respectively. Before exiting with a shoulder injury, guard Damien Lewis struggled mightily as well, giving up a quick sack to Cameron Heyward and whiffing on a block on a screen to earn a 45.0 grade. DK Metcalf and Lockett both had their moments on Sunday, but both players were held under 60 receiving yards and neither found the end zone, earning themselves 75.0 and 72.0 grades respectively. Making the most of five offensive snaps, Travis Homer produced 54 yards on just three touches, earning a 78.0 grade in a reserve role.
Enjoying another excellent game defending the run, defensive tackle Poona Ford stuffed the middle with three tackles, earning a 78.5 overall grade. Alongside him, defensive end Kerry Hyder had a quietly disruptive game, generating two quarterback pressures, netting a pair of run stops on only six run snaps, and recovering a fumble to earn a 77.0 overall mark. The Seahawks used Jamal Adams far more aggressively with mixed results, as he produced seven tackles and a tackle for loss but wasn't able to do much with seven blitzes, creating a single pressure. Taking a pass to the face mask on a potential interception opportunity in the fourth quarter also negatively impacted his grade, as he received a 70.0 overall mark. None of Seattle's pass rushers made much of an impact in this game, though Carlos Dunlap and Darrell Taylor had a pair of pressures a piece. Dunlap didn't record any statistics for the third time in six games, netting a 68.0 grade, while a pair of missed tackles hurt Taylor's grade and dropped it to a 66.0 overall.