Home > Steeler Articles > Steelers-Bengals Recap Week 14

Steelers-Bengals Recap Week 14

The Steelers get off to yet another slow start but manage to slowly strangle the lowly Bengals in route to a 23- 7 home win.

– Ben got off to a somewhat rocky start, missing a couple open WR’s and making a really risky pass to Mendenhall that almost resulted in an INT. As the game progressed Ben improved and made a number of nice passes downfield. Inside the redzone Ben made some really risky throws where he was very fortunate that he wasn’t picked off and there was still times where Ben was holding onto the ball way too long. To Ben’s credit he was getting harassed all day long behind a really porous O-line, although that made the holding onto the ball all the more strange. Still, most QB’s wouldn’t have even made it through the game given the circumstances but Ben hung tough and finished the game with nice numbers (21/33 for 258 yards) with a real gritty performance.

– Mendenhall had a nice handful of runs behind some nice run blocking. There were still a number of plays where Mendy failed to hit a hole quick enough and was brought down at the LOS. For a change, Mendy did actually break a couple tackles today, which is a pretty rare thing. Mendy still runs a little soft, though. Moore chipped in a few nice runs and Ben actually got in on the action as well. There was one bizarre play where Ben did a fake handoff and ran it to the other side for a nice pickup. Broken play? Designed play? I’m not sure which choice makes me more scared given the circumstances.

– The WR’s had an up and down day. Wallace made some nice plays and some bad plays. He had a great run after catch on a smoke screen and later in the game made a terrific over the shoulder grab. He did, however, have a number of plays where he didn’t run the correct route or gave up on a route which almost resulted in a redzone INT. He finished the game with 5 grabs for 78 yards. Randel El made the catch of his career reaching WAY up in the air and bringing down an amazing one handed grab. Wow. Ward was the most consistent WR today hauling in just about everything thrown his way including a great grab over the middle where he reached up high to bring down the ball. He finished the game with 8 grabs for 115 yards. Not too shabby for a “washed up” old timer, huh? I think it’s safe to say the old man can still get it done. Matt Spaeth dropped a super easy short pass that hit him right in the bread basket. Maybe it’s time to find another #2 TE. The rookie Antonio Brown chipped in with 3 grabs, including a clutch 3rd down grab. Manny Sanders was injured and I don’t think he returned.

– The O-line. Oh boy. One of the worst games of the season for these guys. Virtually every passing down these guys were getting abused and allowing pass rushers to get to Ben virtually unstopped. Flozel Adams, you suck. Jonathan Scott, you suck. The interior line didn’t do much better. Why the hell isn’t Legursky playing instead of Essex?? What the hell is going on there, no way is Legursky a worse guard than Essex. There were also a number of missed assignments as well. Bizarrely, the O-line looked pretty good on run plays, usually getting a good push and opening holes on a number of plays.

– The D-line had an OK game. The Bengals did manage to open up some nice holes on run plays at times. The coaching staff continues to be high on Ziggy Hood but frankly I’m not seeing much. Hood looked like a liability as a run stopper today. There were a couple plays where Hood managed to get penetration but made no play on the RB. Hopefully he improves.

– Lamar Woodley had probably his best game of the season, snagging 5 tackles, 2 sacks and a terrific pick 6. And on top of that, he was being held virtually every play, of course no calls from the refs. On the other side, James Harrison had probably his quietest game of the season bizarrely not racking up a single tackle somehow. He did help out in run support as he collapsed his side of the LOS on a number of plays. Not too much pressure, though. Farrior nabbed 6 tackles and 4 assists but it was probably the quietest 6 tackles and 4 assists that I’ve seen in some time. Timmons had a pretty good game, helping out all over the field and making a great tackle on a dump off where he flew in out of nowhere to take the receiver down for no gain.

– Ryan Clark actually had a pass defense in this game. I think that’s now 2 for the season for Clark! The rest of the game he was back to being “Mr. Invisible”. Gay had a sack but he also missed a tackle in the open field which resulted in a first down for the Bengals. Taylor actually had a rough game, on the Bengals first drive Taylor was called for a ticky tack PI call in the endzone which basically gave the Bengals a TD. Later in the game Taylor was called for holding. Throughout Taylor seemed hesitant at times in coverage. McFadden played but didn’t do much. Troy was probably player of the game with 2 INT’s. The first being the eventual game-winner as he returned it for a TD. On the 2nd INT, bizarrely and stupidly Troy tried a lateral to Taylor which easily could’ve resulted in disaster.

– Lebeau started off the game going the conservative route, which helped the Bengals in scoring their lone TD on the opening drive. Hardly any blitzes, soft cushions, just 4 man rushes. But as the game went on Lebeau once again took the handcuffs off the defense with, for the most part, great results. It was great to see the Steelers continuing to blitz with the team up by 16 at the very end of the game. That sends a great message to your players. In the past the Steelers might’ve played the dreaded prevent that would’ve probably lead to a 15-23 game with the Bengals lining up for an onside kick….

– The Steelers offense has now scored 2 TD’s in about 30 of it’s last possession. Something is seriously wrong here and it begins and ends with Arians. Once again, the offense comes out with no apparent purpose or plan, just another “let’s call this play and see if it works” approach. WR’s running long, time-consuming routes while Ben has about 1 second to throw it. Ben holding onto the ball too long, hardly any check down options. Hardly any adjustments, or if there are they are too little and too late. And again and again we go, this dysfunctional offense that we see week in and week out. It’s apparent at this point that Arians will not change or adjust. His schemes are what they are – which is an offensive philosophy that puts all the pressure on his QB to make plays downfield. We just have to hope this is Arians last year as the OC.

– Another game goes by and it’s becoming harder and harder to see what exactly Tomlin brings to this team as head coach. Mental mistakes? Check. Dumb penalties? Check. Dumb game management? Check. At the end of the 1st half the Steelers get a first down inside the Bengals 10 yard line. Ben runs up to spike the ball instead of calling a TO. Why didn’t Tomlin call a TO in that situation? The Steelers are now effectively left with just 2 downs to get a TD. The end result is a FG, where an extra down could’ve made all the difference. Antonio Brown makes a totally stupid decision to try to field a bouncing ball on a punt two yards in front of oncoming Bengal defenders. Where is the coaching? It’s apparent that Tomlin has no clue what to do with the offensive struggles on this team as he’s allowed Arians to continue his total incompetence on that side of the ball. Coaching remains a big concern.

– Overall a a great win that keeps the Steelers on pace for a bye, although struggles continue mightily on the offensive side of the ball (6 points total at home against one of the worst defenses in the league). If corrections aren’t made the Steelers won’t remain long in the playoffs.

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