Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week 15 Report Card
Week 15 Report Card
Even with their backs against the wall, the Pittsburgh Steelers just refuse to go down without a fight. In Week 15, the Steelers (6-8) jumped out to their biggest first-quarter lead of the season and never looked back after the whistle blew, defeating the division rival Cincinnati Bengals 30-20.
Pittsburgh scored the game’s first 24 points in the first and second quarters, and kept the Bengals (9-5) on the ropes until the end. This victory keeps the Steelers on life support, regarding their chances of making the 2013 NFL playoffs. Currently, Pittsburgh is still third in the AFC North, and will have no chance of winning the division crown. However, the Steelers are in the ninth spot in the conference rankings, and in the event that they win their final two games and have a lot more help in the process, Pittsburgh can stumble into the final wildcard slot.
The Steelers were clicking on all cylinders in every phase of the game. Pittsburgh’s defense played probably their best game against the run, and did a solid job against Cincinnati’s passing game. Offensively, the Steelers didn’t put up huge numbers, but they displayed a balanced attack. As for special teams, they set the tone early in the game by being responsible for two of the team’s first three touchdowns of the contest.
A huge, dominating victory like this one definitely deserves a good report card. However, the hard part is duplicating these results under such adverse conditions. We’ll just have to see how Pittsburgh does in the final two weeks of the regular season. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the Steelers’ marks for Week 15.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have to do much after his team got out to a huge lead so early in the game. Roethlisberger only had 25 pass attempts against the Bengals (his second fewest this season), tallied just 191 yards in the air (tied for his second fewest total of the year), and connected on just one touchdown. Pittsburgh’s balanced attack also played a part in Big Ben’s modest numbers.
Just like the previous 13 games, the Steelers failed to have a back with 100 yards in a game. However, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell continued to display his versatility as a runner and a receiver. Bell finished the game with 107 yards from scrimmage (57 rushing and 50 receiving), and one touchdown. Fellow running backs Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones each contributed with 26 and 22 rushing yards respectively.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Roethlisberger evenly distributed his 20 completions to five different players. Antonio Brown was the team’s leading receiver with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown. Even though the numbers weren’t eye-popping, Pittsburgh managed to be productive against the league’s seventh-ranked pass defense.
The offensive line once again found a way to keep it together with a lack of chemistry. The O-line only allowed one sack, but still couldn’t control the line of scrimmage enough to get the running game going the way that it should.
The defensive front held Bengals running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard to a combined 37 yards on the ground. Defensive end Ziggy Hood and nose tackle Al Woods did a great job filling in for starters Brett Keisel and Steve McLendon respectively. Both ended the game with four tackles each, and Hood had a sack.
The corps of linebackers did a great job in assisting the defensive line in containing Cincinnati’s running game. In addition, the Steelers’ linebackers put constant pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Even when Cincy was primed for a comeback, rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones batted down a key two-point conversion attempt.
Surprisingly, cornerback Ike Taylor didn’t line up against Bengals receiver A.J. Green. Even with the defensive switch, Pittsburgh still managed to contain Cincinnati’s receivers. Unfortunately, late touchdown passes were surrendered to give Cincy a chance for a comeback win.
Pittsburgh’s special teams unit took full advantage of two Bengals blunders in the first quarter. Punter Kevin Huber bobbled a snap, which led to Will Allen making a stop on Cincinnati’s one-yard line, which led to a touchdown. Later in the quarter, a line-drive punt ended up with Brown returning it 67 yards for a touchdown.
No big plays were allowed by Pittsburgh’s defense in this game, and no major mistakes were made by the offense. The most important thing to consider is that head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the coaching staff called a game that didn’t put the Steelers in a compromising position.