If you can read this through all the tears, you’re stronger than me.
Le’Veon Bell: It was a welcome return for Bell, whose one-handed grab on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first possession helping to lead to an opening field goal. In a low-scoring game, that proved to be vital. He busted off a 23 yard run late in the 4th quarter, helping to flip the field.
There wasn’t much room available for him, the Steelers routinely lost the point of attack, but he made the most out of it. With Ben Roethlisberger out for at least some stretch of time, the team will rely on 26 more than ever.
Antonio Brown: The second half was as quiet as a mouse, no doubt in part due to Ben’s injury, but his first quarter exhibited why he is arguably the best receiver in the league. In the first quarter alone, AB racked up six catches for 71 yards. He wound end the day with 11 grabs for 108 yards. In what has become the norm, Brown was dominant.
Will Allen: He made the biggest defensive play of the game, intercepting a Nick Foles pass that turned into the final field goal of the day. It was the first interception by a Steelers’ safety since Week 14 of 2013, a span of 782 passes, and couldn’t have come at a better time. Allen isn’t a great athlete but the heady veteran puts himself in position to make plays – like this one.
Stephon Tuitt: Tuitt was again dominant with six total tackles, a sack, and two tackles for a loss. He’s breaking out quicker than Cameron Heyward did. That’s not a slight against Heyward but a huge compliment towards Tuitt, and the duo are becoming one of the most fearsome in the NFL.
Lawrence Timmons: Timmons tied Allen for the team lead with seven tackles. He did a nice job bottling up the Rams’ rushing offense, which totaled only 3.9 yards per carry, the bulk of their work coming on a Chris Givens end around.
Kelvin Beachum: Beachum allowed a sack, getting bullrushed by linebacker Alec Ogletree, and being called for two penalties. It brings him up to two sacks allowed and five penalties against in three games. Not a good look for a player trying to cash in during the offseason.
Ramon Foster: Rough day for the offensive line all around. But Foster got beat badly by Robert Quinn, allowing a sack. You could give this to practically any of the five offensive lineman as they predictably struggled against a stout Rams’ front four. But Foster allowed the sack and that’s what will stick out the most.
Danny Smith: I love Danny Smith. He brings a lot of energy and overall, has done a nice job in his time in Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ coverage units were strong today, bottling up Tavon Austin, but the Rams’ fake punt bugs the heck out of me. A slightly better throw by punter Johnny Hekker to a wide open Stedman Bailey keeps the drive alive and possible changes the entire complexion of the game.
The Rams have run several fakes over the last few years with Hekker and though this one didn’t exactly fit their tendency to fake it, it would have been nice to see it better prepared for and defended. I echoed the same thought on a successful Houston Texans fake last year, too.
Tackling: Just a catch-all as there isn’t one specific player to identify. The Steelers’ tackling today was shoddy at best, a recurring theme. The defense played at a high level, and allowing only six points is the only stat that matters, but the Steelers will be facing more high-octane offenses down the road. And they’ll need to clean up their tackling.
Michael Vick: I’m sneaking Vick on the end here. Being thrown into the mix on the road against that Rams’ defense is an insanely difficult situation that no one can thrive in. But he fumbled the ball twice on consecutive plays, crucial errors a quarterback can’t make. Going forward, he has to take care of the football significantly better to give the Steelers a chance to succeed.