Inside The Tape: Break Down Of Steelers Versus Bengals – Week 15

By Alex Kozora

Game notes following the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.


First Half

– KR unit. Front five: Shamarko Thomas, Chris Carter, Antwon Blake, Terence Garvin, and Vince Williams. Michael Palmer and David Paulson the next two and Cameron Heyward and Al Woods forming the wedge. Jonathan Dwyer the upback for Felix Jones.

– First run of the game. Cody Wallace gets welcomed with a solo block on Domata Peko. Tries his best to hold his own but Peko eventually overpowers him. Played with proper leverage and hand placement. DT just too strong.


Ben Roethlisberger again grabbing his facemask as a signal for a screen as part of the check with me/packaged plays (run/pass option for the QB).

Ramon Foster was struggling in his combo blocks to the second level. Just not athletic enough. Unable to work to the LB at the second level. Mentioned it all season the Steelers have trouble running against 4-3 fronts. Linebackers are always running free and filling gaps.




Markus Wheaton and Antown Blake the starting gunners.

– Even with one knee on the ground, Ziggy Hood leverages Andre Smith and pushes him into the “B” gap where the running lane was. Gives enough time for Vince Williams to fill and make the tackle but it all starts with Ziggy.


– Michael Palmer continues to work ahead of David Paulson on offense. Apart of goalline package with team in 23 personnel.

– Key block by Matt Spaeth on Le’Veon’s Bell TD. Combination block. Doubles Carlos Dunlap then works to LB Rey Maualuga.



TD run came on outside zone. Haven’t seen much of that the second half of the season.

– Kick coverage from left to right. Cortez Allen, Robert Golden, Chris Carter, Jarvis Jones, Antown Blake, Terence Garvin, Will Allen, Will Johnson, and Markus Wheaton.

– Bengals return negated by fair catch. Carter and Jones sealed, pushed out of the way. Clean running lane for Cedric Peerman.



Emmanuel Sanders can’t outside release on this run with the safety over top. Defender easily crosses his face and makes the tackle.



Marcus Gilbert got his leg rolled into on his injury.

James Harrison lighting up Jerricho Cotchery on a shovel pass. Cody Wallace’s responsibility, can’t stick to Deebo at the second level.


– Steelers only showed it once but attempted work around for Foster’s issues of getting to the second level. Fold block between him and Kelvin Beachum. Left guard blocks three tech and Beachum folds/pulls to the linebacker.



Didn’t exactly work here but I like the adjustment.

– Ton of strength/pad level on display from Al Woods here. Combo block, sheds center, makes tackle.




– Bracket coverage on A.J. Green at the bottom of the screen. Cortez Allen good coverage on Jermaine Gresham. Andy Dalton forced to throw the ball away.


– Pre-snap blitz with each gap covered. Troy Polamalu and Jarvis Jones drop. Jason Worilds loops in free to “A” Gap. Bengals end up blocking the two rushes on the left side with four defenders.


Nice to get a free shot at the QB when you’re rushing less than what the offense is blocking. Credit to the pre-snap look for messing with the Bengals protection.

– Plenty of big hits on Antonio Brown’s punt return touchdown. But Thomas’ was a more important one than Garvins. Took away defender that would’ve come into the lane to make the tackle or forced Brown to the right where three Bengals were positioned.


– Steelers scrape with Worilds responsible for the “C” gap, Lawrence Timmons “D”. Bengals, in a man scheme, double Worilds with the pulling guard and tight end. Normally, the TE would base the OLB and the pulling guard would work to Timmons. Scrape screws up assignments and Timmons is free to make the play on Giovani Bernard for a one yard gain.




– Going to gush about Jarvis Jones quite a few times the rest of this article. Been rightfully critical of him but deserves praise for his performance Sunday.

Starts with this play here. Low pad level, gets arms extended, and shows leg drive working against left tackle Anthony Collins. Tackle can’t even get his arms onto the rookie. Would’ve gotten pressure had the ball not come out quick on a slant.

– Following play. Playaction, two man route. Cortez working against Green. Green lined outside the numbers pre-snap and gets an outside release.


Allen smartly holds him tight to the sideline, using it to his advantage. Green can’t gain any separation. Dalton throws incomplete to Mohammad Sanu.


– 14:53 2nd quarter. Pass incomplete after challenge. Would have liked to see William Gay (nickel corner) clock and close a bit quicker on the throw.

– Jammers were Thomas and Cortez.

– Slide protection to the right on heavy blitz look but the right side drops. Can the center at least glance back to the left? If they’re not coming from the right, they’re probably coming from the left.



Steelers have struggled with defending overload blitzes. Not easy for any team but Steelers do it worse than most others.

– Bell a bit indecisive in the hole.


– Beachum’s base too wide here, ends up on the ground.


– Will Allen looking rough on this kick return and really throughout the whole night. To be fair, Bengals were often doubling him.

Starts and is supposed to fill here.


Ends up here.


Will Johnson knocked down too. R3, R4 not doing their jobs.

– Too much of an overpursue by Terence Garvin. Has Cortez with him to seal the edge. Needs to play inside/out. Misses the tackle on the back’s cutback.


– Maybe Vince Williams’ best play of the night. Won’t show up in the stat sheet either. Double-team on the goalline from a lineman and Peko. Turns, drops shoulder, and collapses. Bernard can’t get in.


– Cat blitz + Hood drop.


– Poor tackling form from Ike Taylor. Need to see what you hit and bring the arms!


– Back to JJ. Shows bend around the edge but does pop up at the end. Has to stay low the whole way through and he’ll slip the tackle.



Second Half

– Excellent run fit/gap integrity vs this toss. All gaps taken away. Jones on the backside makes the tackle.


– Cover 2 Man. DBs allowed to bump/trail. Dalton has nothing available and forced to scramble.


Cody Wallace can’t execute his cut block or this screen to Bell may have gone for a TD. Getting Maurkice Pouncey back next year sure will be nice.


– Big Ben INT. Wind may have played a factor but also looks like his front knee/leg gets locked up. Can’t generate power and the ball hangs.


– Jones again getting under Collins. Check the lean of the left tackle. That’s Jones using his power to put himself into control!


– Steelers maybe showing a little too much faith in Spaeth here. Base vs Dunlap who swims over him and makes the tackle.


– Cornerback playing the flat so Ben hits Brown on the long out route for a 20 yard gain.


– Beachum injury. Entire right side of the line falls on him.


– Plus of having Spaeth back. Can use 2 TE formations, keep Spaeth in to pass protector and put Heath in the slot to run routes. Happens in the second half as Ben hits Miller on an out route for a 13 yard pickup.

– Gotta give props to Wallace here in pass protection. Shows strength to drive DT into the ground.



– Only two plays so I’m not jumping to conclusions but one thing I took away from Brian Arnfelt’s two snaps. He’s slow off the snap. Cameron Heyward has already engaged his lineman and Arnfelt has barely gotten out of his stance.


– Hood continued to win the leverage battle against Andre Smith. Back-to-back plays he gets under him.



Tyler Eifert TD. Taking advantage of Steelers personnel. Don’t use CBs in goalline sets. Clark mismatched against him in coverage.

– Steelers moved Michael Palmer up close to the front five in case of an onside kick the following kickoff. Smart.

– 4th down TD by Cincy. Cover 2, safety has deep responsibility. Will Allen’s fault.


David DeCastro getting the angle vs Peko, creating a running lane.


– Matt Spaeth finished some plays but overall, struggled to stick to his blocks. Defenders kept crossing his face.

– To sum up Jarvis, by far his best pass rushing game. Doesn’t matter that he didn’t pick up a sack. He consistently showed good leverage, didn’t get pushed way up the arc, and showed good leg drive and bend. Sacks will come. Predict he gets at least one in the next two games. Would predict more but facing Joe Thomas Week 17 will of course be a difficult task.

– Cody Wallace is low on talent but high on aggressiveness. As Mike Tomlin will always say, better to say “whoa” than “sick ‘em”

– Having Terence Garvin in the nickel more lets Troy play more at safety and read the whole field. What he does best.

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