The week 13 offensive line breakdown report for the Steelers win over the Cincinnati Bengals is now complete and what a great game collectively by the offensive line. While there were 3 sacks in the game, only one of those goes on the line as the other two were results of the quarterback holding the ball too long. The run blocking got stronger as the day went on as the forced their will on the Bengals defensive front.
Maurkice Pouncey – For a guy that had lost as much weight as he did due to a stomach virus, Pouncey showed no ill effects from it against the Bengals. His pass protection was near flawless and he was very strong in his one-on-one battles in the run game. He moved very fluid out in space and it was very hard to find the few negative plays he had. I pretty much had to nit-pick him. As always, he helps fantastic to either side in pass protection depending on which side he has called for the protection on and he always finishes. Only a few times did he have a problem getting off his first block. He played like a Pro Bowl center and I loved hearing the radio guys say how upset he was to get pulled from the game late.
Doug Legursky – Legursky gave up 3 pressures on the day in pass protection on beats inside, but they were manageable pressures in my opinion. Legursky was the catalyst for the run game with the several counter lead blocks he had. He was cracking skulls most of the afternoon and the success of the counter lead play lead to the fake counter lead and the touchdown pass to Mike Wallace as the whole Bengals defense bit on his pull right. That play was not all roses for Legursky though as that was one of the plays he allowed a pressure on. Ben Roethlisberger easily slid to his right though to avoid the pressure and hit Wallace for the score. Only 2 small fails in the run game outside of that and he had a good day at center in relief of Pouncey.
Marcus Gilbert – A much better showing this time around against the Bengals for Gilbert. He was nearly flawless in pass protection and very strong in the run blocking department as it included a great block on the first touchdown run by Rashard Mendenhall. Robert Geathers and Geno Atkins really had tough days against him on the Bengals defensive line. One of the demerits was on the quick screen to Mewelde Moore where it looked like Gilbert did not know what the snap count was. He was very late getting out of his stance on that play. Very acceptable play from the rookie.
Max Starks – Quite a nice game by Starks outside of the sack allowed. He was just ducked under by Michael Johnson on that play. I had him down for 2 pressures outside of that and did well in the run blocking department. On the long run by Isaac Redman it is Starks who held his block long enough that allowed Redman to spin off the pile and break free through the open lane.
Ramon Foster – The score for Foster does not give his play on the field justice as he only played 32 snaps before leaving with an ankle sprain. He did have 2 pressures allowed, but we are seeing him move very effectively to the left side in both the running game and in pass protection. He had a nice bury early in the game when he pulled out to block all the way out on the left side. He really finished well on a few run blocks and was constantly down field. He had a key block on the end of the Mendenhall second touchdown that showed him working to keep the play alive.
Trai Essex – Essex entered the game at right guard when Foster left and played above the line. The holding call was questionable on him as he pulled nicely to the left to bury his man. He was charged with a pressure to go along with the hold and had two small run blocking fails.
Chris Kemoeatu – Only 7 plays for him late in the game and his fail came on a missed trap block, normally his specialty. Not really a large selection to grade him on.
Jonathan Scott – Scott only saw 3 snaps outside of kneel downs and they were all running plays on the Steelers final series. Johnson made a few tackles on Jonathan Dwyer on that drive, but it looked like Scott was doing his assignment. The fails might be pinned on Weslye Saunders, but it is really hard to tell not actually knowing the assignments, plus the Bengals defense knew the Steelers were running late anyways. I had him down for 3 for 3.
Skill Positions – A much better game by the Steelers tight ends run blocking wise, but not perfect as Heath Miller and David Johnson had a few fails. I thought Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown did well when asked to block and both had key blocks on two of the touchdowns. All of the running backs did well in pass protection and Redman was only charged with 1 pressure. Once again I need to credit Roethlisberger for a good block, his second in as many weeks.