The Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 29-14 at Heinz Field to put a stranglehold on the AFC North and become the #1 seed in the AFC. Le’Veon Bell had 192 total yards, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 2 touchdowns and the defense dominated. Everything is perfect, right? Not so fast. Let’s look at the winners and losers:
Le’Veon Bell / Offensive Line
Once again the Steelers found a blueprint for success and it’s the same blueprint as last year – run Le’Veon Bell down the other team’s throat and dare them to stop it. The Chiefs couldn’t stop it last week and the Bengals couldn’t stop it this week. Bell ran for 134 yards on 35 carries and had 3 receptions for 58 yards. This included one 42 yard reception that featured a VICIOUS stiff arm on Dre Kirkpatrick.
The number one passing defense in the NFL didn’t disappoint yesterday as they gave up only 140 yards to Andy Dalton. They did give up 2 touchdowns in the air, but also had 2 interceptions. A.J. Green has had some huge games against the Steelers, but yesterday he only had 3 receptions for 41 yards.
Why is the secondary looking so good? Because the defensive line and linebackers are applying so much pressure that the quarterback doesn’t have time to make a good throw. The Steelers had 4 sacks and 7 quarterback hits. Consider they did that without Stephon Tuitt, which means they can be even more effective.
Chris Boswell was 5 for 5 in field goals and that was the difference in the game, but the reason the special teams lands in the ‘Winners’ category is a fantastic 44-yard fake punt pass from Robert Golden to Darrius Heyward-Bey. The offense has had problems in the red zone all year, so it’s good that Boswell has been so accurate.
In the beginning of the season, the Steelers were committing too many penalties and leading the league in penalty yards. Sunday, they had 1 penalty for 5 yards.
Red Zone Offense
Yes, this is still a problem. The offense was 1 for 6 in the Red Zone. Kicking field goals is nice, but at some point not getting touchdowns is going to cost the Steelers.
Here we go again. Last week, there was a report that he (or someone representing him), requested a trade because lack of playing time. So how did he respond Sunday? He had one reception for 3 yards on 2 targets. So basically, invisible. I keep saying Martavis Bryant was the key to the offense being explosive. Is he the reason the offense can’t excel in the red zone? Has JuJu Smith-Schuster overtaken him on the depth chart? He’s not staying away from controversy either. Sunday night, he made a comment on Instagram that JuJu was ‘no where near better’ than him. If he’s not effective and causing problems, why even have him around?
I usually don’t have the other team’s players on these lists, but Andy Dalton did something today that was unbelievable. With the team down 2 scores on a 4th down, Dalton thew the ball away. He gave up. How can you do that?