Three Steelers named first-team AP All-Pro

The Steelers defense was dominant this season and as a result three members of it were named first-team Associated Press All-Pro on Friday.

Cam Heyward is an All-Pro for the second time, while Minkah Fitzpatrick and T.J. Watt are first-time selections.

Heyward, who was named All-Pro after the 2017 season, has been a rock for the defense throughout his career and dominated more than ever this year, finishing the year with nine sacks, 22 quarterback hits, 11 tackles for a loss and six pass defenses.

"He is our captain. He is the best at what he does," said nose tackle Javon Hargrave. "He is dominating the league. He has been dominating for the last five years, ever since I got here. He is just playing at a high level. He just shows you how to practice, what he does. He beats his players easily in a game. I don't know how he does it. He is just that good. He dominates what he does."

Fitzpatrick had five interceptions, two forced fumble and three fumble recoveries, while coming in and making a huge impact on the defense after being acquired via trade from the Miami Dolphins.

Fitzpatrick recorded defensive touchdowns in back-to-back games. He had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Colts and the following week picked up a fumble against the Rams and it took it in for a 43-yard score.

"He's a ball hawk," said Bud Dupree. "He just finds the ball. It's crazy to see him make plays on the ball all the time, not one time but every game. Every single game Minkah is making big plays on the back end."

Watt was named first-team edge rusher after finishing the year with 14.5 sacks. He finished with eight forced fumbles, two interceptions, four fumble recoveries and 36 quarterback hits.

Watt, who was also voted second-team All-Pro at linebacker, had multiple sack games four times this season, including two sacks against both the Rams and Dolphins, and a sack and a half against the Bengals and Colts.

"He had an amazing season. A defensive player of the year season," said Dupree. "Hopefully he gets that award at the end of the year. It would be great for him and the whole unit.

"He works hard every day, makes corrections, studies, he is an all-around player. He is about football all day. That is all he talks about, football and competitive stuff. He goes about his business and makes sure he is getting better each time he is out there. He never wants to make mistakes, never wants to not play well, and wants to play at an elite level and shows up all of the time."

Rookie Diontae Johnson was also named second-team All-Pro as a punt returner. Johnson returned 22 punts for 272 yards, a 12.36-yard average. He also had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, which was the play of the game in the Steelers 23-17 win. The touchdown included him reversing direction and then turning on the afterburners. It was the longest punt return in team history, and it broke a dry spell, as the last punt return for a touchdown by the Steelers was in 2015.

Johnson earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, the first time the rookie has won the award, for his performance in that game.

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