Kion Wilson was back out with the defense to start the second half, but he would not see much time after the first drive.
LaMarr Woodley showed great backside pursuit on a run going the opposite way after Jarvis Jones and Lawrence Timmons were blocked out of the play.
Both Woodley and Jones were able to rush Andy Dalton’s throw on third down to force an incompletion. Probably their best tandem work of the night.
The more I watch many of these running plays, the more I believe the problem is not the play calling, but simply the execution. On their first run of the second half, both David Paulson and Mike Adams failed on their blocks on what should easily have been a positive run.
The tripping call on Marcus Gilbert could have been the biggest momentum swing of the game. Instead of having first and ten in the 31-yard line, just on the cusp of field goal range, the Steelers were pushed back into third and 20, deep in their own end.
Ben Roethlisberger could have converted that third and 20, and possibly scored a touchdown, had he seen Antonio Brown flash open after eluding the initial pressure. There was nobody within ten yards of him by the time Roethlisberger looped back around to his left past the pass rush.
There was a miscommunication between Wilson and William Gay on the Bengals’ next drive. My guess is that the Steelers were in zone coverage and Wilson was unaware of it. Gay was passing off Jermaine Gresham to him, but instead Wilson pursued the receiver at the line and Gresham was left wide open for a big gain.
To exacerbate the problem, Ryan Clark proceeded to miss the initial tackle to allow an extra dozen yards or so.
I do not believe the Steelers stopped a single short-yardage carry on the night.
Wilson fell, and then took a bad angle, on Giovani Bernard’s touchdown reception. That was the last snap he played on defense.
Shamarko Thomas forces yet another fair catch.
Felix Jones should not be left in to pass protect too often, for Roethlisberger’s sake.
Ziggy Hood came up with a couple of run stops during the game, which is good to see. On one occasion it appeared that he’d been beaten on a double team, but he was able to come off the block to tackle the runner after just a yard.
Vince Williams had a better game than I expected he had upon initial viewing. By no means was he great, but he did not make as many mistakes as it seemed initially. He was even able to make a play or two, and I believe he will be able to contribute in that fashion with greater comfort in the defense.
Conversely, it was Kion Wilson who appeared to be making the mistakes, which could explain why he did not see any snaps following the Bengals’ second touchdown in which he slipped in coverage.
At this point, it would not surprise me if the Steelers went with Williams as the starter this week. If not this week, it may be just a matter of time.
Brett Keisel’s pass deflection more likely than not saved a touchdown. A.J. Green was open in the back of the end zone and Williams likely had very little if any chance of defending a pass his way.
The pass protection really seemed as though it improved throughout the night, and the Steelers have not been penalized much throughout the first two games so far. Just some small positives to take away.
It is really hard to fault Jerricho Cotchery for not coming down with the pass that was ultimately intercepted. He was nearly at full extension just to get his finger tips on the ball. Roethlisberger knows he needs to throw a better ball in that situation.
A completed pass there puts the Steelers in the red zone with just under five minutes to play, down 20-10 and very much in the game.
Instead, the Bengals played keep away on the next drive and ran out most of what was remaining on the clock.
That is partially due to the rushing defense once again coming up short in the critical situations, allowing an eight-yard run on third and six that could have given the Steelers the ball back with nearly four minutes remaining.
The unnecessary roughness penalty two plays later did not help any either. The Bengals would have been in another third and long situation otherwise.
When it comes to butt blocking, David DeCastro has a lot to learn from Jonathan Scott.
Not that it bore any relevance whatsoever in a two-score game, but there was clearly one second remaining on the clock when Roethlisberger spiked the ball.