ReFo: Steelers @ Bengals, Week 14

The Steelers and Bengals were playing a tight divisional affair until the fourth when the Steelers pulled away. John Maney looks at the notable performances.

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Steelers @ Bengals, Week 14

2014-REFO-WK14-PIT@CINThrough 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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  • Jason Williams

    As a closet Browns fan, it was fun to watch the Bengals get whipped in the fourth quarter, even if it was by the Steelers.

  • Izach

    Have to say I thought bell had a better game than 1.2 don’t think troy was as bad as -2.4 either but I understand those 2 plays bring his grade down further than expected. Also surprised by daltons grade, figured PFF would be the ones to factor in he AJ green element passes for 260 something yards over 200 go to green on 10 completions 2 of which were for more than 140yards

    • bobrulz

      There’s a lot of games where Green could’ve had a lot more yards except that Dalton missed him when he was wide open, or on relatively easy throws. So as always, the performance of the receiver and QB go hand in hand. A receiver can make it look easy for a QB, but the QB still has to deliver the ball to the right spot.

      • Riffs

        Yeah, and I’m sure you watch lots of Bengals games. Dalton has done pretty well this year in games where A.J. was out and tends to spread the ball around. I’d say Antonio Brown’s YAC benefits Big Ben more the last two years than Green has done for Dalton. Either way, Green is awesome and had the best matchup that way. Dalton took advantage of it. It simply wasn’t enough.

        • bobrulz

          lol don’t tell me what games I do and don’t watch. Andy Dalton has had some bad games this year and still misses a lot of easy throws. Only a blind man would dispute that. I never said he was an overall bad quarterback, but he’s certainly far from great.

          • Riffle,Rod&Fly

            Nobody watches the Bengals. I actually like them and hardly get a chance to see them, even with NFL Redzone. The “analysts” are typically clueless about them as are most NFL Fans. I didn’t say he was great, but there are really only two or three great QBs in the NFL. You’re standard is flawed. Where is Hamburger without Brown? Romo without Bryant? Dalton is a nerve wracking roller coaster like most NFL QBs if you want to place all the blame on them. Dalton gets rid of the ball quicker than any other QB except Peyton. This happens by spreading it out. He also is more accurate going deep than a guy like Tannehill, yet he usually ranked last among starting QBs. The criticism he takes is due, but goes too far. He had a good game against the Steelers and the Steelers were just better.

          • bobrulz

            You do realize that Roethlisberger and Romo were both very successful quarterbacks before Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant were around right?

            Andy Dalton has never been anything more than average, and if he can’t be more than average with the receivers and offensive line that he has, he probably never will be. Yes, he gets the ball out fast. He usually has good mechanics. And despite all of that he’s still average. Could the Bengals find an instantly better replacement? Probably not. That doesn’t mean Dalton is anything more than average.

            Nobody that watches the NFL ranks Dalton last among starting QB’s either. They criticize him for still being extremely inconsistent and not very accurate despite the weapons that he has around him. He’s progressed very little in 4 seasons in the NFL. His stats – advanced and traditional – have been similar every year he’s been in the league.

  • Madi

    230+ yards, 3 TDs, and “an easy choice” for the game ball, as he ran “with impressive speed, power, and patience.” I couldn’t agree more. All those yards and TDs, and although he had good blocking, he earned most of those yards. He played great all game long.

    Grade: 1.2 (33% of Matt Spaeth’s grade)

    I just don’t understand this grading system. Either they graded him wrong, or the system is wrong. Why have a system if it works like this? Try again.