On Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals slugged it out in an NFL divisional matchup with season long implications. The Steelers were very fortunate to come out on top, netting their first road win of the season. But more importantly they were able to get their first division win of the season, paired with a Baltimore Ravens loss, sliding them into 2nd place in the AFC North. A big part of that was due to an all around offensive effort that was as balanced as Steelers fans have seen all season.
But who gets the nod for offensive player of the week? Read on and find out.
The obvious first candidate for this weekly award most weeks is quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. But on this night, he wasn’t the star. He was efficient, wasn’t asked to sling it all over the field and he did throw a touchdown. But his untimely interception and a fumble keep him out of the running for me.
So really there are 2 names that I am going to include in the discussion, both of which had tremendous efforts in their team’s win. The first is tight end Heath Miller. His increased role in the offense has been a joy for Steelers fans like me. But more than his 6 catches and a touchdown, it was his run blocking and pass blocking that made the difference. With the Steelers starting rookie tackle Mike Adams on the right side, Miller was left in to either help Adams pass protect or simply one on one with the defensive end and he was tremendous. A really great performance from one of the top players at his position.
But this week that effort can only get you the runner up. For me this week, the top offensive performer has to be running back Jonathan Dwyer. Not enough that he’s the third back on the depth chart, and was forced into duty due to injury, but Dwyer is a back who himself has struggled to get traction in the league. But on this night, he shined. 17 carries, most of which came in the second half when the Steelers were holding their lead, and 122 yards rushing was more than a little impressive.
Now, while I disagree with analyst Cris Collinsworth that he reminded people of former Steeler Jerome Bettis, he did run hard, showing quick feet, a willingness to absorb punishment, and great burst through the hole. Kudos to the offensive line for helping Dwyer out, but in many cases, it was his sheer will that got him the yards.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Steelers have found their feature back of the future, but on the biggest stage, when the team needed him most, Dwyer was the star, and for that he is my offensive player of the week.
Who’s your player of the week Steelers fans? Find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard and let me know.