The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 Sunday night and are now 3-3 on the season. Below are 5 players that I thought had winning performances in the game and 3 more listings of players, or group of players, that deserve to be scolded.
Ike Taylor – Taylor rebounded in a big way against the Bengals Sunday night and he did it against A.J. Green, one of the best young receivers in the league. Green was targeted 6 times in the game, and although his one catch was good for a short touchdown, that was all that Taylor allowed him on the night. Taylor was provided the needed help over the top and underneath throughout the game and his performance Sunday night will hopefully get him back on track moving forward.
Willie Colon – Colon was vicious and dominant in this game and he opened up several holes for the Steelers running backs in the process. Despite the sack allowed, this game will likely grade out as one of his best since moving to left guard. Colon was a Bronx bully Sunday night and even gave Bengals rookie linebacker Vontaze Burfict a good grinding into the ground on one play. Make no mistake, this was a great performance all the way around for the Steelers offensive line, but Colon really stood out throughout the night.
Heath Miller – 6 more catches for 53 yards for the Steelers tight end to go along with his 5th touchdown of the season and a two point conversion to boot. Miller also had a few key blocks on the edge in addition and showed why he is one of the must underrated all-around tight ends in the league. Miller is putting together a Pro Bowl season and is as reliable as they come.
Jonathan Dwyer – It was the first career start for the Steelers former sixth-round draft pick and one he will not soon forget. Dwyer ran with the same intensity and force Sunday night that made him the team\’s leading rusher in the preseason. He only had 17 carries on the night, but he made use of the great blocking of offensive line on his way to registering 122 yards on the ground. The Georgia Tech product sealed the win for the Steelers with his 32 yard run on third down from the Bengals 40 yard-line with 1:20 left in the game.
Keenan Lewis – Lewis played an all-around solid game and he helped provide solid underneath help to Taylor on a deep ball that he batted away that could have ended up being a touchdown for Green. Lewis said after the game that tape study resulted in him making that read and he added another pass defensed in the game for good measure. Lewis also was there for run support in the game when needed.
Special Teams – Speed kills, but so do penalties and the Steelers special team units were flagged 5 times in the game Sunday night. The blazing DeMarcus Van Dyke is making a habit of getting flagged in each and every game and Sunday night marked his third straight game with a penalty. Stevenson Sylvester is also getting his number mentioned as of late as well and a few of the flags wiped out some great returns and put the offense in precarious positions as a result. Special teams coach Amos Jones needs to get a firmer grip on this unit moving forward.
Mike Wallace – Wallace did catch 8 passes for 52 yards in the game, but his back-to-back first-quarter drops are hard to ignore. While it would have been a tough catch on a deflected ball in the endzone by Leon Hall, making those types of catches is what can change a game. Wallace might have been charged with a third drop on the night, but there was not enough conclusive evidence via replay to overturn the call of a catch on the field. Wallace did contribute in the game, but we still have no choice but to scold him for the drops.
Baron Batch – Batch dropped a sure touchdown pass from wide receiver Antonio Brown on a gadget play that would have given the Steelers a 10-3 lead with 11:11 to go in the first half. The second-year running back admits he lost the ball in the lights on the play, but it ended up being a key play in the first half as two plays later the drive ended after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted in the endzone.