Game observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
– Kick return unit: Arthur Moats, Vince Williams, Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Shamarko Thomas. Stephon Tuitt/Matt Spaeth, Cody Wallace/Will Johnson the wedge, and Josh Harris the upback for Markus Wheaton.
– Steelers start the game off with a packaged play. Run/pass option. Two high shell means Ben Roethlisberger is handing the ball off. David DeCastro pulling, like usual.
– Love the downfield blocking by Ramon Foster and DeCastro. Even Lance Moore gets a block downfield. Le’Veon Bell finishes by running over Reggie Nelson.
– As I wrote about the other day, Roethlisberger locking onto Antonio Brown on 3rd and 8. Nelson is the overhang defender, dropping into his hook zone. The corner turned safety is on the numbers and there’s no window. Needs to look to his three receiver surface. Pass tipped and incomplete.
– Punt team. Antwon Blake and Ross Ventrone the gunners. On the line: Will Allen, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Matt Spaeth, Robert Golden the upback, and Brad Wing your punter.
Usually Allen is the right wing but given Spaeth’s injury, he shifts to the left. Easier for Spaeth to push the rusher to the outside with his uninjured right arm.
– Bengals challenged on the first play. Three verticals. Brice McCain offered good coverage and the pass is incomplete.
– Punt return unit. Antwon Blake the jammer to one side, Brice McCain/Ross Ventrone to the other. Others: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Vince Williams, Shamarko Thomas, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Terence Garvin, Robert Golden.
– Heyward-Bey with a subtle but key block downfield on Brown’s punt return TD. Walls off Cedric Peerman so he can’t have the angle and try to squeeze Brown to the sideline.
– On the ensuing kickoff, Jarvis Jones destroys Peerman and knocks him out of the game. Still shot doesn’t do it justice. Tremendous hit.
– Bengals 11 yard run early. No edge is set while Lawrence Timmons is late to scrape over top.
– Poor technique from Sean Spence. He’s the force/spill defender, needs to keep the run inside. Takes on the block with the wrong shoulder and is sealed. Has to keep that outside arm free.
– McCain’s first INT was easy but credit to him not biting on AJ Green’s double-move. Green broke it off because of that and with some pressure on Andy Dalton, the quarterback threw a lame duck.
– Rey Maualuga sheds Maurkice Pouncey and makes the tackle. Stops what could have been a sizeable run.
– After Wing’s JV punt on his second attempt, he was visibly upset. Helmet barely stayed on before reaching the sideline.
– Timmons with a good stack against Jermaine Gresham. Holds up the pulling left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Clogs the hole.
– Will Allen, as he did repeatedly Sunday, getting his nose dirty against the run. Force defender, takes out the puller and forces the runner inside. Vince Williams fills and makes the tackle.
– Your weekly “Heyward Hustle” play. Credited for the tackle 14 yards downfield.
– Jason Worilds gets off the block of Ryan Hewitt – who lunges – and loops to make the tackle.
– Veteran job by Tuitt to defeat the block and still able to reach back and made the tackle.
– On Gio Bernard’s touchdown, Worilds does bump him coming across the middle. But with Dalton able to extend the play, Bernard is able to get back on track. Nifty hurdle into the end zone.
– Curl/flat mirrored to each side. Roethlisberger just misses Wheaton. His front toe isn’t always pointed right at the target but it’s parallel to the LOS here. Maybe the reason why the throw sailed right.
– Kelvin Beachum getting away with a hold on a Bengals’ stunt.
– Bad snap/fumble by Pouncey. Up until that point, Ben would start the play count with a “Blue-80” and then the next verbiage would be the snap. Here, he calls out “White-80” and then tries to make a check, calling out “Lucky.” Pouncey expected it to be the snap and hikes it away. Miscommunication in the no huddle offense.
– Tuitt ripping right guard Kevin Zeitler, getting some late pressure to Dalton. Tuitt has a variety of moves. Like his hand usage from a rookie.
– And then Cam Heyward abuses rookie center Russell Bodine. Beats him with a swim, takes down Dalton.
– Motion Heath Miller to the offense’s right that draws the safety but it creates a backside defender to chase down this Power O. George Illoka blows it up for a loss of five.
– Roethlisberger again showing his unique ability to pump fake and change his mind at the last moment. Pump to Spaeth, finds Johnson in the left flat for an 11 yard gain.
– Same play. Good recognition by Foster to pick up the stunt and bury the DE into the ground.
– Not pretty from DeCastro but he drives and sticks to the DT just long enough for Ben to get this pass away to Heath Miller for 20.
– Le’Veon Bell’s spin on his 26 yard reception. Get him against almost any linebacker in the league and Bell has the advantage. Incredible talent.
– High throw to Miller in the end zone. Line blocked for a solid five seconds. Kudos to them. Too bad the Steelers couldn’t punch it in.
– Still think it was Ben’s decision to run the ball on the 3rd and 8 draw. All three receivers run routes.
And like others have mentioned, it’s probably a first if Pouncey can hold his block a tick longer.
– Want to know how good the Steelers’ kick coverage has been this year? Even the kicker r is getting involved. Shaun Suisham forces Adam Jones inside and then takes on this bock from the long-armed DE Margus Hunt.
– Tremendous open field tackle by William Gay. Prevents a good run from turning into a great one.
– Two quality blocks during Martavis Bryant’s TD on the bubble screen. Wheaton/Miller part the sea.
– Worilds had a strong day against the run. Arguably his best showing all year. Pushes the TE into the hole, closing it up.
– Solid stunt pickup across the board. T/E stunt to each side. Especially between Beachum and Foster, who are just a two man team.
These are situations the Steelers have repped since training camp. Two man and three man stunt pickup. Get both here. And the practice paid off.
– Spacing route against zone coverage. Curl/flat mirrored to each side – like earlier – and Wheaton over the middle sitting down and showing his numbers. Going to find an open window against zone and a two high look. Roethlisberger finds 11 for an eight yard gain on second and two. Easy completion.
– Again, flawless stunt pickup. Pass is complete to Brown for 13.
– Bryant explosive off the line and gets the corner to flip the wrong way with an outside stem. Leans back inside and creates immediate separation. Big Ben badly underthrows it, letting the corner recover and make a play. Still, a nice route.
– Like the base and arm extension by Marcus Gilbert working against the Bengals most dangerous pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap.
– Love the anchor by Ramon Foster up against Geno Atkins. Barely gets walked back in solo protection.
– Antonio Brown, newest member of the band.
– As is his nature, Antwon Blake with a big shot at the end of the half to jolt Bernard to the ground. Picture doesn’t show it but his close to the runner is superb. Best on the team.