Steelers Versus Bills Sack Breakdown

By Alex Kozora

Breakdown of the four sacks the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed in Sunday’s win (rejoice Steelers Depot readers!) over the Buffalo Bills.


1. 3rd and 7, 9:29 2nd. Shotgun, 11 personnel. Five blocking vs a four man rush. Tackle/end stunt vs David DeCastro and Guy Whimper. End loops to the inside and the DT takes on the RT. Whimper overpowered by Kyle Willliams, knocking the offensive lineman off balance and sheds him.




Whimper didn’t look ready for the stunt when he should have anticipated it. Bills were stunting when they showed a wide split with their DTs (under and nose lined up as three techs) in passing situations. Snapshot of Williams stunting from the left side on 3rd and 13 with 5:36 left in the first quarter.



These are things that the line needs to be aware of when they go over series on the sidelines. And I’m guessing this is something the Bills have shown this tendency on tape. Which does fall back on coaching but because it’s impossible to say if the issue is player or coach issue (was Ramon Foster prepared and just screwed up or was he not coached up?) you’re forced to assume the player.

Williams is one of the stronger and better DTs in the AFC but if Whimper would’ve recognized it quicker, he could’ve anchored and absorbed the rush.

So the blame falls on Whimper for the lack of recognition and just flat out getting pushed around by Williams.

Blame: Guy Whimper

2. 3rd and 7, 8:41 3rd. Shotgun, 01 (0 RBs, 1 TE – Heath Miller lined up in the backfield across from Ben but one yard ahead).

Steelers keep in six vs a four man rush. Team does get heavy pre-snap blitz look which screws up assignments when defenders drop.


Effectively, with the LG and C not doubling anyone, you’re left with four blockers on four rushers. Problem one.

Aside from that, Marcus Gilbert gets beat by Marcell Dareus around the edge. Odd considering Dareus’ narrow alignment away from Gilbert and the fact Dareus is a 331 pound tackle.


Poor foundation (top heavy, doubling over) and doesn’t get a good punch, hitting him in the shoulder. Dareus too strong to be slowed by that. He knocks the ball out of Ben’s hand but Roethlisberger able to fall on it.

Blame: Marcus Gilbert

3. 3rd and 9, 1:58 3rd. Shotgun, 11. Six blocking (plus TE on block/release) vs five man rush. Bills bring safety Jarius Byrd on blitz from the right side.

Two elements at play that cause the sack. One, Ben should’ve attempted to hit a hot read. Have Jerricho Cotchery on the slant at the bottom of the screen, winning inside against the corner (as soon as Cotch crosses the CBs face, he’s won the route).

Instead, Ben drops his eyes and essentially just takes the sack.


The other side of it entails the offensive line failing to pick up the blitz. Not only does the safety rush but the Bills stunt the LB to weakside “B” gap. DeCastro doubles the end. And can’t get move laterally in time to pick up the linebacker. Sees it at the last second and has no chance to cut the ‘backer off.



The last line of defense is Le’Veon Bell who initially was working towards picking up Byrd. But with the LB coming in free up the middle, Bell makes the smart decision to make him the top priority and push him out of the way. Work inside out and hope Ben can shrug off the smaller safety on an angle than the linebacker coming up the middle.

Ideally, DeCastro picks up the LB and Bell the safety and Ben has a clean pocket to work with. But unsurprisingly, the offensive line play (especially regarding simple stunt recognition) has been less than ideal.

*One other side thought. Could possibly be on Fernando Velasco because there were instances where he picked up the looping rusher (ex: the picture from the first quarter showing the stunt with wide split). But considering DeCastro’s reaction to the LB, trying to reach back at the last second, have to think it’s on him.

Blame: Ben Roethlisberger for not attempting to hit his hot and David DeCastro for missing the stunt and creating the domino effect that led to the sack.

4. 3rd and 11, 10:27 4th. Shotgun, 11. Seven blocking vs six man rush. Jerry Hughes lined up far outside of Kelvin Beachum (Wide 9). Beachum is decent off the snap (more on that later) but completely loses his foundation and bend when he goes to punch, bending at the waist.



Tough assignment vs the athletic Hughes (has been a bust but still a great athlete) on such an angle but as a lineman, your base can’t dissolve as soon as you make contact.

Maybe I’m overanalyzing it too much but I’m seeing some flaws in Beachum’s kickslide off the ball. His angle is too harsh and it’s not letting him get enough depth to counter speed rushers. Because you’re not going to move as quicker as the defender in a straight line.

Compare Beachum’s left foot with Gilbert’s right. Gilbert is at a 45 degree angle like you’re taught. Beachum looks to be less than that.


It’s minor and better than what we’ve seen from some of the team’s tackles (Guy Whimper opening the gate preseason and Mike Adams doing it in the regular season) but could be tweaked. Something I’m going to monitor in my full game recap.

Blame: Kelvin Beachum

Sack Counter (Game)

Guy Whimper: 1

Marcus Gilbert: 1

Kelvin Beachum: 1

Ben Roethlisberger: .5

David DeCastro: .5

Sack Counter (Season)

Kelvin Beachum: 6

Ben Roethlisberger: 4.5

Marcus Gilbert: 4.5

Ramon Foster: 3

Mike Adams: 3

Defensive Scheme/Coverage: 2.5

David DeCastro: 2

Todd Haley/Bad Playcall: 1.5

Guy Whimper: 2

LaRod Stephens-Howling: 1

Fernando Velasco: 1

Wide Receivers: 1

Felix Jones: 1

Isaac Redman: .5

Le’Veon Bell: .5

Penalties (Game)

Clean this week.

Penalties (Season)

Marcus Gilbert – 5 (3 false start , 1 trip, 1 hold,)

Kelvin Beachum – 3 (2 hold, 1 false start)

Ramon Foster – 1 (1 hold)

Mike Adams – 1 (1 hold)

Fernando Velasco – 1 (Illegal block below waist)

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.


    These tired old eyes are seeing Ziggy Hood lined up as an H Back in GIF #1. Going back to bed.

  • srdan

    Is Adams ready for full time duty yet?


    LeVeon Bell had great separation if only Ben had another half second.

  • steeltown

    Very true… scary play really, Ben gets rolled up on from behind

  • Chris Wilkes

    This is probably my favorite series of articles to read on this site, since the O-lines poor play is usually the greatest source of my Sunday frustrations. Just want to say good work, Alex, but I do hope we draft one of the top 5 tackles in the draft and you have nothing to write about next year lol.

  • Chris Wilkes

    All 3 Tackles are bad, but I still think Adams is in last place. He’ll only play Tackle if someone gets injured.

  • Steve

    Like you said we need 2 tackles that know how to pass block, cause none of ours does.

  • Madi

    I don’t get the love of Beachum over Adams. He causes tons of damage in pass protection just like Mike did, but doesn’t offer the same run blocking ability or long-term potential. If we’re going to get Ben killed, let’s do it with the guy that could get better. Plus, then we’d have Beachum back as a swing man.

  • Alex Kozora

    Thanks Chris. Just waiting for the week where I don’t have to write one of these…