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Week 10 Steelers-Bengals Recap

The Steelers get out to an impressive 14-0 only to see it evaporate but still manage to hold on to beat the Bengals, 24-17, in a huge AFC North divisional game.

QB – Ben had a decent game. He finished the game 21/33 with 245 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. Ben made a number of nice throws to the outside and while running out of the pocket, including a TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery in the 1st quarter. Ben was also fortunate to not have at least one more INT as he threw a stupid deep out to Antonio Brown who was blanketed by two Bengal DB’s. Throughout the game Ben seemed to continually look downfield, which resulted in sacks or incomplete passes, when a quick dump off would’ve been a better option. Ben still seems to go through his reads way too slowly and seems to still be hesitant in just dumping it off. Not good. Ben also missed an open Mike Wallace downfield that would’ve probably gone for a TD.

RB – Menendhall had a couple nice runs, including a terrific 9 yard TD run where he broke a tackle or two. The rest of the game, Mr. Softee showed his usual tentativeness and lack of decisiveness and finished the game with an impressive 2.6 yard average. Redman didn’t fare much better but still finished with a decent 3.6 yard average on 7 carries. Moore had two carries for 7 yards.

WR/TE – Antonio Brown had another impressive game, especially in the 1st half, finishing with 5 grabs for 86 yards. Wallace had 6 grabs for 54 yards, but also dropped a big 3rd down throw. Jerricho Cotchery had another good showing, snagging 2 grabs for 29 yards and a TD, he would’ve had two TD catches, but there was a completely bullshit pass interference call on the play on Heath Miller. Miller had 3 grabs (all in the 1st half I believe), including a great grab at the goal line where he was hammered by a Bengals safety but still held onto the ball. Clutch. Miller also bobbled a short pass that was then intercepted by a Bengals DB. A rare mistake by Miller. Ward played but was invisible most of the game outside of 1 reception. Rookie TE Weslye Saunders had a clutch grab and 1st down at the end of the game.

OL – Another solid game by the O-line. Gilbert had a couple plays where he allowed a defender to get to Ben and Kemo had a number of plays where this happened. Kemo was once again the worst starter along the O-line.

DL – The D-line was OK. Concerns about the run defense continues. On a number of run plays the D-line was pushed back, allowing chunks of yards. Kiesel had a good game, overall. Hampton had a couple nice stops against the run. Hood was fairly invisible. 1st round bust? Maybe not, but Hood has been far from impressive.

LB – James Harrison had a fairly quiet game, as did all the LB’s today. No sacks, no big impact plays outside of Timmons’ deflection INT, not very much pressure on Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Farrior had 3 tackles but did nothing of real note. Same goes for Jason Worilds, who was filling in for Lamar Woodley at the OLB position. Foote was left in pass coverage on one of the Bengals TD’s. Why? Again, no one knows. Farrior and Foote continue to create voids in the pass coverage whenever they are on the field and the Bengals took advantage of that. I never thought I’d say this but I’m starting to wonder if the Steelers strength on defense is still the LB position.

CB/S – Willie “Big Play” Gay made two plays that impacted the game in the Steelers favor – A deflected pass (and great coverage) that ended up being intercepted by Lawrence Timmons and a HUGE INT at the end of the game as the Bengals offense was on the march for a potential game-tying TD. Player of the game as far as I’m concerned. Gay also had a couple other passses defended and was stout against the pass most of the game. Gay is ragged on by Steeler fans everywhere but he is simply having a solid year so far and today was no different. Taylor also had good coverage throughout. Troy had a number of impact plays near the LOS early in the game and finished with the most solo tackles on the team with 5. On the Bengals first TD, a deep lob pass into the endzone, Troy seemed to have decent coverage but seemingly lost track of the WR at the last second, resulting in the TD. Or did he? On further review, it seemed that Troy saw Ryan Clark at the last second and seeing that Clark was in better position to make a play on the ball stopped at the last second. Clark, wailing and falling, failed to break up the pass. Perfect example of why Clark is a complete liability in pass coverage. Clark was fairly invisible the rest of the game, as usual.

ST – Suisham made his lone FG attempt. Brown was held in check most of the game in the return department. The punting game had some less than impressive play in the 2nd half.

Lebeau – On paper, the Steelers defense had a solid game, but there is something wrong when Steeler fans everywhere are sitting on pins and needles at the end of the game, wondering if the Steelers defense is going to fail to stop another offense from tying up or winning the game in the final minutes. Luckily, Gay made a terrific break and interception on a pass on the Bengals final drive and sealed the game. But if that doesn’t happen, who knows? Lebeau seems to be content with leaving voids in the middle of the field for quick strikes by opposing offenses. Foote and Farrior continue to be used in this area of the field when it’s clear they simply cannot cover anyone. There was hardly any pressure on Dalton throughout the game and let’s face it, the Bengals offense isn’t very good. Overall, this game doesn’t seem to ease concerns about this defense.

Arians – Another offensive showing devoid of any real gameplan or plan of attack. The Steelers offense got off to a good start, scoring on their first 2 positions and then like clockwork, disappeared for a good bit of the rest of the game. It helped early on that the Bengals defense looked downright horrible, out of position and missing tackles. After those first two positions the Steelers offense scored a grand total of 10 points in the next 3+ quarters of the game. The playcalling after this start seemed to be indecisive and overly conservative at times, especially in the 2nd half, where the offense looked fairly awful. Arians seemed to be content with Ben continually looking downfield and running the ball on early downs, even though this approach was getting the offense absolutely no where. In other words, typical “Arians ball”. To put things into perspective in regards to how bad the offense and playcalling was in the 2nd half – The Steelers had FOUR 3 and outs out of FIVE positions in the half. That is awful and inexcusable. There were run plays on 1st down on every single one of those drives, outside of the one drive (which was no-huddle, of course) that actually scored points. Shocker! I’ll rejoice the day Arians is gone.

Tomlin – Another incomplete game by the Steelers. Good 1st quarter, and a crapshoot the rest of the way. Another game where the Steelers look like a clearly superior team but the game still comes down to the wire. Tomlin has a knack for this. His time clock management at the end of the 1st half and his overall management of the 2nd half were both questionable at best.

A huge win. But a sloppy win in a lot of areas – coaching, execution, etc. Still lots of concerns and question marks. With the bye upcoming, hopefully the Steelers get healthier.

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