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.
– 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.
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
– 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.
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