ReFo: Steelers @ Bengals, Week 14
Through three quarters, it looked like the Steelers and Bengals were going to go down to the wire. Pittsburgh had other ideas, however, scoring 25 points in the final period to win going away. Now we will see if the division standings follow a similar path with Cincinnati now owning a half-game lead over Pittsburgh and Baltimore with four weeks to go in the regular season.
Both teams received good quarterback play and a stellar performance from a player at the skill positions. Let’s take a look at those and some of the other standouts.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Performances of Note
Le’Veon Bell, RB: +1.2
Breakdown: The clear focal point of the Steeler offense with 26 carries and nine targets in the passing game, Bell rewarded the team with over 230 yards and three TDs. He showed off all the traits of a big time running back, including the ability to break tackles, forcing four on the day.
Signature Play: There are plenty of examples to choose from, but take a look at 11:34 of the fourth, when Bell made a nice cut and ran through a pair of tackles for the go-ahead 13-yd score.
Troy Polamalu, S: -2.4
Breakdown: Polamalu was involved in two big second quarter plays for the Bengals, and not in a positive way. He first allowed A.J. Green deep for a 56-yard gain, and later in the quarter bit hard on an option fake that allowed Andy Dalton to go untouched for a 20-yard score.
Signature Play: The aforementioned Dalton touchdown run came at 3:03 of the second, and while he wasn’t the only Steeler defender to look foolish on the play, it was an inexcusable mistake for Polamalu as the last line of defense.
Matt Spaeth, TE: +3.5
Breakdown: Pittsburgh had success running power to the edges all game, in large part thanks to the work in the run game by its tight ends, Spaeth and Heath Miller. He only saw the field for 37 snaps, but made several impactful blocks and even added a first down reception.
Signature Play: Nothing spectacular, but the types of blocks like the one at 6:47 of the fourth quarter on Emmanuel Lamur played a large role in Bell averaging 7.1 yards per rush on the day.
Cincinnati Bengals – Performances of Note
Andy Dalton, QB: +2.0
Breakdown: We saw good (or at least pretty good) Dalton on this occasion, as he was relatively sharp throwing the ball and even showed off some speed on a 20-yard touchdown run. In particular his deep ball was on point, as evidenced by a pair of strikes downfield to A.J. Green (Q2: 10:27, Q3: 00:10). He wasn’t without mistakes though, as an interception on a slightly underthrown pass was nullified by penalty while his fumble on an option fake early in the fourth – though not entirely his fault – helped the Steelers break things open.
Signature Stat: It helps that Dalton has been one of the least pressured quarterbacks in the league this season. He’s been under heat on only 23% of his drop backs on the year, and saw pressure even less often (22%) on Sunday.
Leon Hall, CB: -2.1
Breakdown: Not a particularly strong day for Hall as part of a Bengal defense that allowed 350 yards passing. There were positives, including a nice pass defense of a comeback route, but more negatives, as he allowed several receptions for first downs and nullified a sack with an illegal contact penalty.
Signature Play: Martavis Bryant made the corner look like he was running in sand on his 94 yard touchdown at 8:31 of the fourth.
Geno Atkins, DT: +3.0
Breakdown: Atkins looked in great form making four stops on the day against the run to go along with two hurries rushing the passer. His explosive first step off the snap was evident, and he used it to blow up several plays.
Signature Play: At 4:58 of the first, he drove David DeCastro a few yards into the backfield and was able to shed and bring down the runner for a loss.
PFF Game Ball
An easy choice with the way Le’Veon Bell ran the ball with impressive speed, power, and patience.
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