Pittsburgh Steelers’ third-year EDGE rusher Alex Highsmith is having a breakout year. On the season Highsmith has registered 12 sacks, five forced fumbles, and 32 total tackles. In November, he was named Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career after a standout performance against the New Orleans Saints where he recorded two sacks, five tackles, and a forced fumble. A truly dominant performance.
In a Wednesday transcript provided by the Baltimore Ravens, head coach John Harbaugh was asked about Highsmith and what kind of a game wrecker he is.
“What a year he’s had,” Harbaugh marveled. “He’s become one of the premier pass rushers. He has a high number of sacks. They have a lot of great players, but those three pass rushers – they have the two edge players and they’ve got the defensive end – everyone knows who I’m talking about here. So, those three guys are just elite players in the National Football League. I think for [Alex] Highsmith to put himself in the category with a T.J. Watt and a Cam Heyward, that’s high praise – and he has done that.”
Despite Highsmith’s high sack numbers and high forced fumble rate, he has still been overlooked by not only the media but also the fans. Highsmith was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs this year with T.J. Watt getting in over him despite missing half the season.
But the Pro Bowl is just a popularity poll nowadays, what really matters is how your peers and other coaches view you. Harbaugh, coach of the Steelers’ biggest rival, clearly views him as a serious threat and believes he is one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL.
Despite Highsmith’s good start to his career, he has yet to make much of an impact in Steelers vs Ravens matchups. He has zero sacks in his five matchups with Baltimore, but he does have one interception which he recorded in 2020 in his first-ever matchup against the Steelers’ arch-rivals.
If Pittsburgh is going to keep their playoff hopes alive Highsmith will need to make an impact play like the one above. Playing in Baltimore is hard, the Steelers have only won at M&T Bank Stadium four times from 2010 to 2019 so they will need their stars to make as many plays as possible.