Watt, Moats Earn Highest Grades From PFF In Steelers Preseason Opener

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie outside linebacker T.J. Watt had quite a showing in the team’s 20-12 preseason opening win against the New York Giants as the first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin recorded five total tackles and included his first two sacks.

Watt, who led the Steelers defense in total snaps played Friday night, also earned the highest grade of any player in the game (86.1), according to Pro Football Focus.


The stat sheet looks spectacular, and there’s nothing wrong with making the plays that come your way, but Watt’s six total pressures (including two sacks) and batted pass are inflated a bit, as was his 25.0 pass-rush productivity mark. His first sack was of the clean-up variety as QB Josh Johnson was flushed his way and the second came as an unblocked rusher to an overloaded side of the pass protection. Still, it was an impressive debut for Watt who also had a couple of nice rushes against fellow rookie, OT Adam Bisnowaty, while also picking up a run stop.


“I wanted to get out there and show I can rush the passer and make impact plays,” Watt said after the game when asked if his first preseason action went as well as he thought it would. “I think as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme you’re expected to make some plays in certain moments.

“I just wanted to go out there and put on display what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks in training camp.”

Watt saw action at both right and outside linebacker Friday night and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin explained the reason why that happened after the game.

“We were just short on bodies. Often times, that’s the case. It provides the opportunity to guys to show their versatility,” Tomlin said.

Fellow Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats also had a solid showing Friday night as the veteran recorded three sacks in addition to an interception. He received a grade of 82.3 for his performance from PFF and this is what they wrote about him.


Moats played 400 snaps for the Steelers a year ago and his vying for a role as a versatile backup once again this season. He got in on three sacks to go with two more hurries and he was in the right place at the right time to pick off an errant pass from QB Geno Smith. Moats also missed two tackles, a rarity for the James Madison product as he’s missed only nine of his 162 career tackle attempts.


After the game was over, Tomlin was asked to comment on Moats’ showing and if he’s an under-the-radar player.

“To be quite honest with you, he did what we was supposed to do,” Tomlin said. “He was like the 11th grader in the JV game there at the end. He’s supposed to dominate under those circumstances and he did.”

As for other top performances Friday night in the eyes of PFF, defensive end Cameron Heyward (81.7), wide receiver Cobi Hamilton (80.5) and defensive end Tyson Alualu (79.4) rounded out the top five graded Steelers players.

  • Shane Mitchell

    Arthur Moats…..PAY THE MAN !!!! maybe Moats listened to the latest Terrible podcast before the game, ain’t taking his money or his roster spot without a fight.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    I was actually more impressed with Watt batting down that pass than his two “gimme” sacks. I was also impressed with his motor. Always hustling to the ball.

    As for Moates, he did what he was supposed to do. Dominate lower competition.

  • Mrs Bighead

    Kind of annoying that everyone is discrediting Watt’s performance due to “luck” or “circumstance”. How many times over the past few seasons have our LBs whiffed on the easiest of sacks? A good bit. You can just tell he’s a good football player and will be a key for us this season.

  • Shane Mitchell

    I liked what I saw from Tyson Alualu, with him and Hargrave in the mix this could be the best group of Dlinemen we have had in quite some time.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Take what you are given and don’t complain.

  • Gautama Om

    Yall wrong, Watt was a reach. We surely could have traded down into the 2nd round and still gotten him.

  • Gautama Om

    You know the grade wasn’t only about the sacks. Watt did a lot of other things (ohh let me guess) like 3 QB hits and 1 pass defensed.

    Yeah 3 QB hits, imagine that luck. He tied with Moats for the most QB hits in that game…everyone else had zero or 1 QB hit. Remember Moats is an ” 11th grader in a JV game at the end there. He was supposed to dominate and that’s what he did.”, said Tomlin. So really if you subtract the 2 sacks (which I think he deserved 1 of the sacks), Watt defensive performance rivaled that of Hilton for best defensive player in that game.

  • falconsaftey43

    Doesn’t matter at this point. He is a Steelers now,

  • thomas hmmmm

    You are crazy. They could have had him in the 6th.

  • Gautama Om

    Lol love it when you people have the intelligence to read between the lines.

  • Jason Vancil

    Watt isn’t quick to the edge but has big strong hands, a nice dip under move and damn he flies around the field. He is long and covers a lot of ground quickly. I can’t wait to watch him and Bud develop.

  • Jaybird

    I think Watt and Dupree both aren’t going to be the “bend around the tackles ” for a sack kind of guys. But with the D line of Javon, Heyward, and Tuitt, I think they are both going to be excellent fits. A lot of clean up sacks and hustle sacks. Great motors on our entire LB core. I can’t see a lot of QBs escaping the pocket or breaking containment against these Steeler OLBs and Shazier. Our front seven is going to be pretty damn good.

  • dany

    They literally need two injuries to go back to the kind of depth they had in 2015, I’ll take that

  • CP72

    He’s half way to Jarvis Jones career sack total.

  • Alan Tman

    12th grader playing JV’S!! LOL

  • Jaybird

    From everything I’ve read and heard , the Packers really thought they could get him in the second .

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    There are 2 big parts to pass rushing, creating pressure, and finishing the sack.

    I’ll take a few OLB who are good finishers, and let Heyward, Tuitt, Hargrave and Butler’s scheme creating the pressure and opportunities.

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    We got James Harrison as an undrafted Free Agent.

    I honestly don’t get why we even bother drafting players, they just take up spots UDFAs could have.

  • Geoffrey Benedict

    Yes. Stay in the pocket and hope our DL can’t get to you or run outside and get run down and lit up.

    I love that in an NFL that doesn’t have southpaws QBs rolling to the right face Bud “The QB crusher” Dupree, and with Watt on the other side and Artie looking good as a #1 CB, things are looking up.

  • Steeler Nation

    exactly!!! Like when moats whiffed on a gift sack and TJ cleaned up and almost got his third sack in that game, easy or not you still have to finish and Watt does that! Fools that don’t see that!!

  • Steeler Nation

    Sorry other than Strahans sack on Farve there are no… I repeat no gimme sacks in the NFL! And shame on Tomlin for saying as much. Moats had a clear sack and missed!!!! So give the kid a break he make the plays that where in front of him! (BTW it was watt that finished the play on the veterans wiff!!

  • Joseph Shaw

    Watt had a couple of rushes where he got pushed past the QB but got one of those long arms and giant mitts out, and nearly snagged his man. I see that being a tool he can use to be disruptive.

  • Jaybird

    He’s going to be a good one . Great athlete, stronger than I first thought, and plays pretty violent. And we all know the dude has a motor that don’t quit.

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    You seem pretty animated about your response so there’s not much use in debating. But I agree with Tomlin on this one.

  • thomas hmmmm

    You people? What do you mean by “you people”??? LOL