Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau had a little unexpected surprise for the Cincinnati Bengals and their quarterback Andy Dalton Sunday night as the dime defense made its first appearance of the season in the 24-17 win.
I had suggested in one of my game previews that I would not be totally surprised if second-year cornerback Curtis Brown finally saw the first defensive snaps of his career against the Bengals as I thought it might be about the right time for LeBeau to roll out an extra defensive back in lieu of a linebacker against the Bengals in certain passing situations.
It was about this time last year when Cortez Allen saw his first action of his career in the games against the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots in an effort to mostly control the Patriot tight end combo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Sunday night against the Bengals the Steelers did not want to run the risk of the speedy Andrew Hawkins or the dangerous tight end Jermaine Gresham being matched up on a linebacker one-on-one, so Brown took the place of inside linebacker Larry Foote on obvious passing downs.
While Brown did give up a couple of catches in the game in his dimeback role, it was a great opportunity for him to cut his teeth, and it certainly gave Dalton something else to think about and I willing to bet it was not prepared for. The surprise element certainly had to play a factor in limiting the Bengals passing game as the Steelers had not used the dime at all this year.
The Steelers primary focus in this game was to take away wide receiver A.J. Green and they did just that as evidenced by his one catch. Controlling Green required extra safety help over the top with less help being provided for underneath coverage as a result. Wide receivers not named Green combined to catch just 13 passes for 78 yards Sunday night and the Bengals offense did not have an explosive play in the game.
Will we see more of the dime at some point moving forward? It is indeed possibly, but usually depends on the personnel and matchups that the Steelers face on a week-to-week basis. For those that say LeBeau does not make adjustments, shame on you. I bet Dalton really wished that were true.