The Steelers offensive line breakdown from the win against the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday is up and they performed better as a group than I thought initially coming out of the game. The sacks are always troubling, especially when they happen back-to-back.
The line benefited greatly from the several bubble screens and the few end around runs. The running backs rushed for 76 yards on 25 carries against a very good Bengals run front. Not great from a stat perspective, but enough. They also were good enough to help produce two rushing touchdowns.
My no means was this a dominant performance as a group, like they had the week before against the Ravens, but it was far from awful. The line has to do better late in games, especially in the run blocking department when teams know they are going to run.
Maurkice Pouncey – The offensive line was spotty at times, but Pouncey really had a pretty good game overall. Pass protection wise I have him at 2 pressures allowed and 4 errors in the run game. Two of those were failures to get off his primary block to get to his second one. The guard play in the game may have given an appearance he did not play well, but when you isolate on him, you can see he clearly was above the line.
Marcus Gilbert – Let\’s get it out of the way first that Gilbert did give up 2 sacks and he struggled at times at letting arms inside of him to drive him back. In the run game he was not as dominate as he can be and he had a few struggles with Robert Geathers and Jonathan Fanene throughout the day in spots. His day was not as bad as I thought it was immediately after the game. Not dominant, but enough.
Max Starks – Like Gilbert, Starks was not dominant Sunday, but was very serviceable. He allowed a sack, a couple of pressures and a hit. Add in a few more errors in the run block department and Starks finishes with just an above average day. He had an issue on one play moving his man out of the passing lane, but overall I thought it was not as bad of performance that most are saying that he had. A few times Ben Roethlisberger held the ball, like he likes to do, and this sometimes results in late pressures.
Chris Kemoeatu – Not a great game by Kemoeatu, but I have seen much worse from him. Domata Peko had his way a few times with him and beat him off the snap bad on the play that resulted in Kemoeatu stepping on the foot of Roethlisberger. Inside beats have always been his downfall and he had a few against the Bengals. On the flip side, Kemoeatu still is one of the better trapping guards in the league as he had a few nice buries with one of them coming on the second Rashard Mendenhall run. Kemoeatu did have a running back run up his backside a few times, but on those plays he had his man under control other than the first Mendenhall touchdown run. On that play he benefited from the push behind him and ended up clearing out Pat Sims on the play after losing to him at the snap.
Ramon Foster – Foster had a rough game, but scored the same as Kemoeatu. He too had his troubles with Peko in the run game and gave up some inside pressures on the day. One pass protection play he was required to molly block left and failed. A bright spot in his run blocking was that he had a few nice pulls to the left. Not his best performance of the season, but far from his worst.
Jonathan Scott – Scott filled in for a few plays for both Starks and Gilbert and was perfect from my observation.
Trai Essex – Essex saw one snap at fullback on the first Mendenhall run.
Skill Positions – Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown are not known for their blocking skills, but the effort is there with Brown, not so much with Wallace. Heath Miller had a costly penalty on a called back touchdown to Jerricho Cotchery, but he clearly thought the play went as designed behind him and was blocking accordingly. Mewelde Moore and Mendenhall were good in pass protection. David Johnson was just average overall. Cotchery took out three Bengals on the second Mendenhall run.