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Steelers defense used physical and mental edge to neutralize Rams

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The Steelers executed their defensive game plan almost to perfection on Sunday, as they held the Rams without an offensive touchdown and stopped them on third down 13 out of 14 tries. It was almost as if the Steelers studied the Rams’ playbook.

Minkah Fitzpatrick led the defensive charge once again. He recovered a Jared Goff fumble and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead with 1:44 left in the second quarter. They would not trail again.

“We went out there and executed our game play really well,” Fitzpatrick said. “Our game plan included stopping [the Rams] on third down.”

Fitzpatrick also four tackles, two passes defended, including one that forced the Rams to kick a field goal late in the fourth quarter, and an interception late in the game to help seal the win. The defense held receiver Cooper Kupp, the leading receiver in the league on third down, without a catch.

“We’re just doing our jobs and being in the right position. Coach [Tomlin] challenged me to be in the right spot,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’re just playing better each week.”

T.J. Watt felt the game was like a chess match with the Steelers’ defense coming out on top.

“It says a lot about our defense. We played aggressive and did a lot of good things,” Watt said. “We studied hard, we played hard, and we got eleven hats on the ball.”

Watt had five tackles including two of the four Steelers’ sacks.

“We’re battle-tested. We went through our valleys a little earlier than a lot of other teams,” Watt said. “Our backs are against the wall. We’re not going to quit. We’re going to keep fighting.”

Joe Haden also credited the preparation the week leading up to the game as being the key to executing the game plan so well.

“We studied the tape. We studied the third downs,” Haden said. “We keep talking it up. Everyone feels like they can make a play, whether it be a pick, or a fumble, or a strip sack.”

Haden had seven tackles, five passes defended, a forced fumble, and a fumble and an interception on the first series of the second half.

“We keep emphasizing getting turnovers and everyone’s getting after it,” Haden said. “We’re not letting balls just fall to the ground.”

Bud Dupree had four tackles. He felt the defense was prepared what the Rams attack would look like.

“We went out and executed our game plan. We pride ourselves on getting the ball back to the offense,” Dupree said. “We’re slowly climbing back. We can see our growth.”

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