Great win. Great day. Great fans.
Le’Veon Bell/Rosie Nix: Two Columbus boys doing damage on the team who plays in Ohio. Bell was brilliant again, continuing to find his groove. 134 yards on the ground on another 30+ carry day, 35 this week, and had an incredible 42 yard reception. That stiff arm on Dre Kirkpatrick was dirty.
Nix helped clear the way, cracking skulls as only he’s able to do. There were times he should’ve been more. And in 2017, when you have a fanbase screaming a fullback’s name, you know it’s a good one.
David DeCastro: Another key cog in the run game. Steelers even used him on some frontside pulls that generated lots of yards. He, along with Maurkice Pouncey and Ramon Foster, controlled Bengals’ DT Geno Atkins, who was held to a measly two tackles.
Ben Roethlisberger: Again, don’t want to say it was Roethilsberger’s best day but it was a good one. Quick, efficient with the football. The deep ball looked good and he was as effective in scramble drills as he’s been in any game this season. Helped draw the Bengals’ offsides twice, too, something he’s done with surprising regularity this season. Several high degree of difficulty throws, my favorite being the corner route to AB vs Cover 2. That was a dart.
Joe Haden: Strong performance by the secondary as a whole but special mention to Haden, who tabbed his first INT as a Steeler, a pretty deflection he stole off AJ Green’s back. Green, by the way, was nearly shut down, held to only three catches.
Sean Davis: That was the breakout game we’ve been waiting Davis to have since he became a Steeler. A forced fumble and breakup that led to another INT on the day. In this defense, the strong safety has to make splash plays and Davis produced that today. Physical, violent, smart. All on tape Sunday.
TJ Watt/Bud Dupree: Credit to both, who both notched a sack on Andy Dalton and generated several more pressures. Stunts were effective. Also liked Watt’s chase from the backside when the ball went away from him. Good effort by both.
Chris Boswell: Kickers are people, too. Especially The Boz, who went a cool 5/5. Came in clutch when the offense stalled.
Robert Golden: For that sweet deep ball to DHB on the fake punt. Heady play, great execution. And some big….guts to heave that ball.
Alejandro Villanueva: He seemed to do well as a run blocked but allowed penetration on one of the many failed third and ones today. Carl Lawson, a rookie, had success against him as a pass rusher, too. Villanueva hasn’t been all bad but too uneven.
Chris Hubbard: Hubbard, meanwhile, seemed to consistently struggled. The length and size of Carlos Dunlap gave him predictable fits and he struggled to keep the pocket in the pass game and get a push in the run. He’s a valuable asset as the backup swing guy but can obviously get exposed if plugged into a more long-term starting role.
Todd Haley/3rd and short: The Steelers’ offense had their best day of the season but it should’ve been so much more. Pittsburgh could’ve put this one out of hand by the third quarter. Instead, it was close throughout. A large reason was an ineffective red zone offense and dreadful job on 3rd and 1.
The Steelers ran four plays on 3rd and 1. They didn’t convert on a single one. Haley tried multiple ways to convert. But none worked. Both areas need to get better. And it starts with the OC.
Goal Line Defense: Which was just as bad. On the year, the Steelers’ goal line defense has been on the field for five snaps. They’ve given up five touchdowns. Tyler Matakevich or LJ Fort was responsible for this one, very similar to what happened Week Three in Chicago.