Cincinnati Gives Steelers Another Opportunity To Feast On A Poor Offensive Line

Oh, how the times have changed. A month ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers sat at 4-5 with a putrid 13 sacks in 9 games. The mob of crazed fans, upset about the abduction of ‘Blitzburgh, stood outside Heinz Field demanding the head of defensive coordinator Keith Butler. Okay, maybe it did not happen exactly like that, but the disappearance of Pittsburgh’s pass rush aggravated many.

Now, exactly a month to the day of that crushing defeat to the Dallas Cowboys, the Steelers have buried those distant memories by accumulating 18 sacks in the last 4 games. From being the bottom dwellers of the league in the pass rush category at one point, the Steelers are now creeping up on the Top 10 as their 31 sacks total 11th overall in the NFL. The Top 20 may not be able to keep the Steelers out for much longer.

This Sunday, the Steelers go up against the Cincinnati Bengals and their 28th ranked offensive line. The Bengals have allowed 36 sacks this season, the 5th most in the NFL. The Bengals may learn very soon that over the last month the Steelers defense has had a particular craving for bad offensive lines. Just take a look at how the Steelers have treated bad offensive lines in the past month.

When the Bengals traveled to Pittsburgh earlier this season, they left mostly unscathed, only suffering one sack at the hands of linebacker Arthur Moats. But much has changed since that early meeting, the Bengals offensive line will be up against a revamped – in form Steelers defense.

The Steelers are blitzing more frequently and as seen in Sunday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers are relying on their top pass rushers more. James Harrison and Bud Dupree played almost all the defensive snaps at outside linebacker, leaving the likes of Anthony Chickillo, Jarvis Jones and Moats in linebacker purgatory.

This spells trouble for the Bengals offensive line who are scheduled to be the next victim in the Steelers’ offensive line eating spree.

About the Author

Daniel Valente

Steelers fan from birth, spending majority of my free time looking up statistics. Had the honor of meeting Mike Vanderjagt shortly after his infamous missed field goal in the 2005 Divisional Round. Currently pursuing a Journalism degree. Follow me on Twitter @StatsGuyDaniel

  • Daniel

    i predict 5 sacks for our defense and burns gets his 3rd pick, davis picks one off too covering Eifert!!!

  • Chris92021

    As strange as it sounds, I believe Cam Heyward going on IR was the best thing that happened to the defense. Why? Several reasons: one, it forced Keith Butler to get creative. Two, it also allowed Javon Hargrave to move to 5 technique DE where he can use his quickness more effectively. Three, what Ryan Shazier said about being “selfish” about making plays instead of standing around waiting for someone else to make plays. Four, there’s been continuity in the secondary with Davis, Mitchell, Burns, C@ckrell, and Gay. Much like the offensive line which plays better when the same lineup goes out there, same can be said for the secondary as well. I do predict we will have at least 3 sacks this weekend unless Dalton throws every pass under 2 seconds.

  • MC

    4th pick?

  • Daniel

    my bad typo yes 4th pick

  • MC

    Another Sean Davis sack and/or pick would be great also!

  • MC

    I have to disagree. losing the sack leader of the D line (when he was active), great run topper and vocal leader of the team for the rest of the season is never a good thing. I think they’re going great but I do kinda worry when this team gets in the playoffs, the absence of a player like Cam and his veteran leadership will be the defences undoing against a quality playoff team.
    The defence has played more sound and more cerebral on an individual level on top of more blitzes which is why it has improved, throw Cam in there and it drastically improves. Not to mention it takes quality out of the rotation which will be needed down the stretch, Tuitt must be getting worn out by now..

  • Daniel

    Cam is still leading the team thru the sidelines. maybe hes motivating them as well. every think about that. he’s very vocal.

  • John Noh

    I agree with your position. Yes, Tuitt and Hargrave have stepped up their game out of necessity but losing the team’s best defensive player is and will always be a net negative. I can only wonder how good this D could have been with the full complement on the D-line.

  • Time to eat, boys!

  • MC

    Yes I’ve thought about that. There’s been more than one article written on here about how he’s leading the team from the sidelines. I’m saying just because he’s doing a great job on the sidelines, it doesn’t negate the loss of his impact on the field. Just because the D has stepped up in his absence doesn’t mean this is a better defense without him.

  • justafanlikeyou

    I believe at the end of the season I may be stepping to the podium and offering an apology to Mr. Lake. I said he will be judged on this season since the Steelers used some top picks for him to coach up. Since the midway point these young men have really stepped up.

  • Why is everyojne so worried about these guys getting worn down? First Bell, now Tuitt, Brown on punt returns. These guys are professionals in peak physical conditioning. 10 years ago, nobody was worried about burning out Keisel, Smith, Bettis or Willie Parker. We aren’t worried about wearing down other guys like Pouncey, DeCastro or Timmons, are we?

    These guys train year round to play this game. Sure, injuries can happen on any play, you also can get blasted by a bus crossing the street but that’s not going to stop you, is it?

    Bottom line is you play your best available players, they are the reason for our success, if you limit their snaps, you are limiting the teams success.

  • Bobby hains

    Bingo ..mc

  • Bobby hains

    It’s all good we all make mistakes even us steelers fans lol

  • Give the coach some real talent and he can get it out of the player, go figure…

  • dany

    completely understandable. Who would think a steelers DB, let alone a rookie, has 3 picks with the year still not even done

  • connfyoozed .

    I’m certainly not complaining, but I have to wonder why the Bengal offensive line is so bad. They still have Whitworth, though he’s getting older, and Zeitler, and both of them are good players who have been there for awhile. They drafted Ogbuehi and Fisher in the first 2 rounds last year to play tackle (Ogbuehi starts). Boling at guard has started for the last 5 years, Bodine at center for the last 3 (though I know that Bodine was benched for a few series in a recent game). They have talent and longevity there… and they’ve regressed. Well, good for us.

  • VaDave

    I hear you HK. Have you ever calculated just how much time a player is actually engaged in a play? An average play in a football game take about 4 seconds. The rest of the time is milling about getting ready for the next snap. I believe there was 48 defensive snaps in the Bills game. That means that Tuitt was actually engaged in play for a whopping 4 minutes. Worn down?? Really??

  • thomas hmmmm

    I have to agree my dislike and calling for Lakes head has subsided with how well Artie has been and how much Davis has improved. I think Lake showed Davis some tape of Troy and how to tackle instead of letting Davis learn how to tackle from Mitchell.

  • thomas hmmmm

    I don’t necessarily agree with your logic but I do think it is a good thing to get the younger guys more PT. Guys like McC and Walton are getting valuable playing time and learning experiences. I am not sure though how much of McC’s snaps were out of the 3-4 and how many if any were at DE.

    Hopefully with Cam being out it allows Tomlin and Butler to gain more trust in both Walton and McC. That is the only benefit I see of Cam being out.

    I now wonder what the DL rotation will be going forward once Hargrave returns. He has flashed but I don’t think he has been that great especially against the run. of the three rookies I think he is the lowest performer of the three.

  • Craig M

    I like Lake though I believe some of the DB play has been the result of our stepping up pressuring the QB. Burns has been a pleasant surprise as a rookie.

  • Mister Wirez

    Completely refreshing after years of Ike “brick hands” Taylor.

  • justafanlikeyou

    No doubt pressure on the QB will help DB play, but good DB play also helps the pass rush by giving the rushers that extra 1/10th of a second to get home. I think the turnaround on D has been a combination of both.

  • MC

    my original point is, this is not a better team with Cam out just because the defense as a whole has improved as of late. In regards to a rotation, depth is always a valuable thing and less wear and tear going into January is always beneficial. I agree you want your best players out there to ensure success, no cam means more Matthews and Walton ,who are good backups but a significant drop off from cam and Tuitt.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    Too soon to be counting chickens.

  • I think Hargrave has been a disruptive force at DE while still learning and can’t wait to see more.

  • Jim Foles

    if green is out and its 3 and long… you have to jump eiferts route.. dalton is going to eifert.