I was pretty critical of David DeCastro’s work in pass protection last week, though I think it was justified. He got pretty well manhandled on outside rushes against the Jaguars, and by multiple different defenders, which culminated in him drawing a hold that negated a touchdown.
This week, his play all around was much better, including in pass protection, but I think we all know what the highlights were—pull blocking. This has become a staple play again in the Steelers’ rushing offense since he was drafted, and he has been dominating in that role for most of the season, with Sunday’s game being perhaps the best yet in that regard.
Take, for example, the 11-yard run for James Conner early in the first quarter. He and Jesse James led on the counter play around left end, DeCastro getting a quick seal on Derrick Johnson to help the running back get to the edge. Needless to say, James earns a lot of credit here as well, perhaps more so.
Later in the first quarter, running out of the 22 personnel, including a tackle-eligible, the Steelers had two tight ends off to the left side on the open side of the field. DeCastro pulled and sealed off Dee Ford, which helped open the middle of the field for 13 yards behind Roosevelt Nix for Le’Veon Bell.
Some time later in the game, with the Steelers needing six yards on second and six, DeCastro was crucial once again in getting the runner to the perimeter. Near midfield, the right guard pulled left was blew up the safety, knocking him to the ground. When Reed Sorenson tried to get up and back into the play, he was run into by his teammate, Reggie Ragland. Ripple effect of a big block.
Later on the same drive, they were able to hit on the play again, this time sealing Ford off once again. James had a hard time keeping a lid on Ragland, but with Vance McDonald coming through, the latter was able to pick him up, while Martavis Bryant helped block down the field for a 17-yard run that nearly scored.
There were a number of things of course that DeCastro did well in the game, but this is what he is best-known for, and is also what he did best in the game. It was a strong—and I would argue an important—bounce back game as he looks to make the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season.