CIN-PIT Grades: Andy Dalton dull in win over Steelers

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cincinnati Bengals’ 16-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

CIN-PIT Grades: Andy Dalton dull in win over Steelers

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Cincinnati Bengals’ 16-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers

– Making his first appearance since his Week 3 injury, QB Ben Roethlisberger (-0.9) didn’t look like himself, particularly after an impressive opening drive. His late-game interceptions kept the Bengals in the game, but it was the overthrow right into the hands of FS Reggie Nelson that crushed Pittsburgh’s first comeback attempt. There were signs of life from Roethlisberger–particularly the strike he threw to WR Martavis Bryant (-2.6) at the 13:57 mark of the fourth quarter that was dropped in the end zone—but uncharacteristic bad decisions did him in on Sunday.

— Ryan Shazier (+0.8) is quickly becoming one of the most one-dimensional players in the league, as he continues to make a big impact against the run (+2.2) while struggling in coverage (-1.2). His athleticism leads many to believe it’d be the other way around, but there are still too many times he simply gets lost in space or seems unaware of route concepts. In the run game, it was another great effort, as his seven stops led the team. His ability to shoot gaps and get into the backfield has been a huge upgrade for the Pittsburgh defense.

– With starting LT Kelvin Beachum injured, his replacement, Alejandro Villanueva, has been under the microscope. He fared well yesterday, grading at +3.4 overall and +2.8 in pass protection, with only a couple of miscommunications on stunts as questionable plays on his 55 attempts in pass protection. It’s a big improvement over the -6.3 grade that he posted the last two weeks.

Top performers:

LT Alejandro Villanueva +3.4
RG David DeCastro +3.0
CB Antwon Blake +1.9
OLB Jarvis Jones +1.8
CB Ross Cockrell +1.6


Cincinnati Bengals

– Andy Dalton posted his first negative grade of the season this week, coming in at -2.9. It certainly wasn’t the Andy Dalton we’d become accustomed to seeing this year. To his credit, he bounced back to lead the Bengals to victory in the fourth quarter, but a bad end zone interception early in the fourth helped put the Bengals in that position to begin with. On passes thrown at least 10 yards down the field, Dalton finished three-for-eight for 81 yards.

– The Bengals’ secondary had an excellent game, as four-of-five players graded positively in coverage, while SS Shawn Williams made the most of his nine snaps that included an outstanding break on the ball for an interception. Slot corner Leon Hall (+2.8) bounced back from an early touchdown against Antonio Brown to get his hand on two passes, while CB Adam Jones (+2.4) knocked one pass away while giving up only 22 yards in coverage on his three targets. Throw in FS Reggie Nelson’s two interceptions, and it was a good day on the back end for Cincinnati.

– WR A.J. Green (+1.9) was Dalton’s go-to guy, catching 11-of-15 targets for 118 yards and a touchdown. He ran a beautiful “go” route to pick up 38 yards for his biggest play of the afternoon, but it was his work in the short passing game, continually picking up extra yards and keeping the offense on schedule, that stood out. He capped it off with the game-winning touchdown on a slant.

Top Performers:

RG Kevin Zeitler +3.9
CB Leon Hall +2.8
FS Reggie Nelson +2.6
CB Adam Jones +2.4
DE Carlos Dunlap +2.2

| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Sam Doohan

    For such a close game that genuinely came down to the wire this was such a bad game to watch. Neither of these Ds are that good but neither side could really get anything going.

    Here’s hoping Ben’s obvious problems were caused by the knee or not practicing rather than him going back to being bad old Ben who throws infuriating back breaking interceptions.


      I guess everyone that’s on here a Steelers fan and fail to realize Ben threw 3 picks and the fact it’s a division rivalry, The Bengals aren’t the same old Bengals. If Pitt. won it would not be any talk of rust or brace. Ben drove down the field on their scripted plays for a TD.

      • Izach

        Idk it was kinda obvious Ben was rusty, first drive featured a lot of bell to keep pressure off Ben after injury bens lack of mid season form was obvious.

  • JT

    Ben had all day to throw on a lot of those dumb plays….its surprising how he could of only got -.9 when he had very little pressure on him most of the day.

    • Riffle,Rod&Fly

      It makes no sense.
      PFF should just stay away from QBs if this is the best they have to offer.

    • Bryant Terrance

      He made brilliant throws to Brown and Martavis Bryant that were dropped. PFF doesn’t penalize QBs for WR drops. The game is totally different if not for 3/4 total drops.

      • Anthony

        Well then you could say it would be a totally different game if cincy was better in the red zone. That’s football stop crying into your unbearable towl!

    • SBSteelers

      Ben’s injured knee is still bothering him. He doesn’t scramble/run the way he did before the injury and some of his passes sailed on him. My opinion is his knee is still an issue – he is conscious of the injury during a play and it affects his throwing mechanics.

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  • Lingyu Wang

    A.J. Green finally got 100 yards again. Dalton should target Green more.

  • SBSteelers

    Wish you rated the coaching staff too. Tomlin seems to have a chronic dysfunction with clock management. Play calling sometimes baffles this team, whether it’s head coaching or any of the coordinators it’s as if they don’t know how to improvise when required.