Below is the offensive line report and breakdown for the Steelers week 3 Sunday night game against the Indianapolis Colts. As I always this grading is done on a play-by-play basis and a good or bad is given on every play. I always caution that it is impossible to know what the assignment on every play is, but I take what the tape gives me to make the best educated guesses as to what they are. This week the run game struggled, but the skill positions were just as guilty as the offensive line was. There were also quite a few times when there were good running lanes open inside and running back Rashard Mendenhall decided to not trust them and instead tried to bounce it outside. He really needs to just start hitting the hole harder. I thought I was going to find much worse run blocking from the offensive line, but that simply was not always the case. They were not dominate mind you and at times looked slow off of the snap, but I have seen worse. The second level blocking really was not where it should be and I must admit that Colts linebacker Pat Angerer was all around the ball all night and really did a good job fighting off blockers and getting inside to plug a hole or get outside to stop a good run from being great.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey really had a good game against the Colts and their four man front. He was pretty flawless in pass protection and the night mostly consisted of helping or receiving help. Outside of a few failed blocking assignments in the run game I thought he did a good job moving his designated man. He seemed to move much better in open space compared to the previous two games and fared well when asked to block one on one. The Colts did not blitz much on the night inside and they did not need to the way Dwight Freeney was causing havoc.
Chris Kemoeatu – At times Sunday night, Kemoeatu still seemed to be bothered by his bad knee, but he never missed a snap. He allowed one pass protection pressure by my count and helped both right and left when needed. When asked to pull on run plays he did not show the short area quickness and seemed to be a step slow to the hole. He still usually found his mark for the most part and overall I thought he played well after having the Seahawks game off.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert was forced out of the game with a shoulder injury after about 44 snaps and overall played well. The early sack is charged to him, but it could just as easy be charged to Ben Roethlisberger as he ran Robert Mathis around the pocket. Gilbert will learn to stay on these blocks now regardless and must be aware that Roethlisberger is always a threat to extend the play. He showed great footwork and played his angles well against Mathis for most of the night. He had a few run games misses, but certainly seems like he is getting accustomed to the speed of the game. Gilbert came back late in the game at left tackle for a few run plays and it showed his grit to play hurt. He needs to get better at sealing off the inside when asked.
Doug Legursky – Some of the best run blocks Legursky had on the night was when he pulled left. He still struggles to hold his blocks at the second level at times and slips off easy. He gave up 4 pressures by my count in pass protection and the last one happened on the play that he injured his shoulder on. He still struggles at times at the point of attack in turning his man one on one.
Jonathan Scott – The night started off pretty good for Scott, but went down hill quickly after the first holding call. He never had much of an answer for the Freeney spin move and Freeney even had him turned backwards and running into Roethlisberger on one play. Freeney went inside, outside and over Scott several times. Scott is not mobile at all out in space in the run game and is not a dominate run blocker. Not telling you anything new there. An ankle injury forced him out of the game late and it ended a rough night for him. On a few plays the Steelers actually had Heath Miller blocking Freeney instead of Scott. Scott allowed 2 sacks on the night, 1 quarterback hit and one deep pressure by my count. He was also flagged 3 times on the night. It was his single worst game in a Steelers uniform in my opinion and could have been worse had Freeney not lost his feet a few times.
Ramon Foster – Foster came off the bench when Legursky left the game and he played alright. He did allow 2 pressures in 11 pass blocking plays. One I remember was an inside beat. Hard to judge his performance on just 16 plays, but he will get the nod at right guard next week against Houston should Legursky not be ready.
Trai Essex – Essex came in at right tackle when Gilbert left and had his problems with the speedy Mathis. Luckily Roethlisberger was getting the ball out quick on a few passing plays and on a few others Essex was the beneficiary of a few bad angles. Mathis usually decided to just try to run around the outside or spin inside of him most of the night instead of taking him on one on one. The refs missed a blatant holding call on Essex that might have taken the Steelers out of field goal range. That field goal ended up tying the game at 13 so he should consider himself lucky. He also benefited from some running back help in addition and he is not the most agile run blocker out in space either.
Skill Positions – Lost in the poor running game was the bad blocking by the skill positions Sunday night. Both Miller and Hines Ward missed several key run blocks on the night and Miller also allowed 2 pressures by my count. David Johnson also was not without fault. Ward and Miller though were the obvious ones and might have been able to spring some longer runs on a few plays had they either stayed on their blocks or got to their man. I thought Weslye Saunders blocked well while in the game as did Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman.