By Matthew Marczi
Following the last game, some were quick to glance at the official stats sheet and draw hasty conclusions about the game based purely on what was reflected in the numbers, and not the tape itself.
The main narrative promoted immediately after the game was the lack of impact of Ndamukong Suh due to the fact that the league does not officially credit him with a tackle or an assist. Accordingly, it was deduced that David DeCastro had controlled him throughout the game.
That is simply not the case. DeCastro in fact had a rather spotty game, alternating between positive and negative plays throughout the day, and when the Steelers held on to the ball, Suh had his share of successes.
As with the defense, the second quarter in particular was a rough stretch for DeCastro. If this play doesn’t count as at least an assisted tackle in the league’s official statistics, something is wrong. Suh got around DeCastro with no problem and dropped Felix Jones for no gain.
That drive ended prematurely thanks to pressure allowed by the right side of the offensive line, but DeCastro’s hands were particularly dirty on this play. Suh completely got past DeCastro again on a passing play, forcing Ben Roethlisberger to bail out of the pocket and toss the ball away to settle for a field goal.
Although DeCastro didn’t allow Suh to make a tackle on this play, he did allow himself to be embarrassed, as the defensive tackle easily blew right past him. This time he even threw him five yards upfield, stumbling to the ground as Le’Veon Bell was tackled for a loss of one in part thanks to Suh’s penetration.
It wasn’t just Suh finding success against the former first-round draft pick though. The All-Pro, of course, was forced to sit out at times during the game, to the tune of 18 snaps, and he also played end on occasion, giving others the opportunity to battle DeCastro.
This time, it was C.J. Mosley, though he looked an awful lot like Suh from the plays highlighted above as he easily swam past the right guard to get into the backfield. Although the play ended up being a success thanks to Roethlisberger keeping his eyes upfield as he stepped up in the pocket, it was Mosley forcing him to move in the first place. DeCastro was really hitting a stride before his injury, but he has not been the same in his two games back yet.