By Matthew Marczi
Pittsburgh Steelers right tackle Marcus Gilbert had his struggles in pass protection in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns, but he had a better day run blocking.
He was far from perfect, of course—he was lost on Le’Veon Bell’s touchdown run and allowed Billy Winn penetration as a result—but overall he made some noteworthy positive contributions.
For example, the Steelers faced a third and one situation early in the game, for which they brought in
Jonathan Dwyer. Gilbert helped make it happen with some strong push against Ahtyba Rubin.
Gilbert was also instrumental in Bell’s 15-yard carry early in the second quarter. Gilbert first chipped on Rubin along with David DeCastro before peeling off and sealing D’Qwell Jackson out of the alley, allowing Bell to get out into open space behind the block for a first down run and more.
The following play wasn’t overly successful in terms of the end result of the play, but Gilbert once again did a nice job on Rubin. Heath Miller lost the handle on his block and allowed Bell to be tackle from behind.
This five-yard carry early in the fourth quarter started out looking like it was doomed to be a busted play, in part thanks to DeCastro struggling to handle his block one on one, but Bell and Gilbert helped turn it into a positive play.
Bell first looked to go off DeCastro’s right side, but realized that once Gilbert moved up to the second level Rubin would be able to get free. Instead, he tried to go off DeCastro’s left, but the defensive lineman was able to adjust.
Eventually, Bell was forced to spin out of contact and back around to his right and through the original hole the play was designed to take advantage of: the B Gap between DeCastro and Gilbert.
With Gilbert clearing traffic at the second level and keeping the Browns out of the way, Bell was allowed to finally find his way into a bit of daylight after spinning out of contact—Gilbert essentially kept an escape route open for Bell.