Steelers Vs. Bengals Game Rewind – First Half

By Alex Kozora

Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday.

First Half

– KR unit. Front five. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Robert Golden, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Antwon Blake. Michael Palmer/Matt Spaeth, Cody Wallace/Will Johnson. Josh Harris served as the upback for Markus Wheaton.

– Steelers ran Power 0 for a six yard gain on their first rush of the day. Sign of how important that play would be.

– Backside blocks can be just as important as front side on zone runs. If Mike Adams would have been able to set his hips, secure, and stick, this has the potential to go for a long run. Instead, it’s just a decent gain.




– Team lined up with wide splits on their first punt. Golden even faked hiking it, kicking his leg up. Then the team went back to its tight splits and punted away normally.


– Punt coverage unit. Antwon Blake/Ross Ventrone gunners. The line. Michael Palmer, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Will Allen, Robert Golden.

– On that first punt where Adam Jones had a 16 yard return. Blake is double-viced at the top of the picture below and is never able to get off the block or cross the line of scrimmage. And that’s where Jones sprints to – the right side without 41.


Cam Heyward with a reverse pancake of rookie center Russell Bodine early in the game. Welcome to the NFL, rook.



– Punt return. Antwon Blake/Brice McCain/Ross Ventrone jammers. Line. Terence Garvin, Ryan Shazier, Shamarko Thomas, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Darrius Heyward-Bey.

– Think DHB had the fake snuffed out. Was staring down the upback Cedric Peerman the whole time and even took a step closer right before the snap.


– Really admire how the Steelers stopped those gadget plays. Snuffed out the punt, stopped an Emory & Henry formation (only three OL in the box, other two split out like WRs), and didn’t let any big gains happen against the Wildcat.

– Again, Steelers asking difficult blocks out of their lineman. Beachum with a long ways down the line on this split zone, toss to the right.



Need to tighten up the LT/LG split to give Beachum a chance. No chance for Bell to cutback because the LB is able to fill. The tackle can’t cross his face and get into him.

– Good explosion by Spence to immediately bring Jeremy Hill down on this out route on 2nd and 6. Set up 3rd and 1, which the Bengals failed to convert.




– Perfect front to run against. To three techs opens up a huge hole up the gut. Nine yard gain.



– Quality blocking downfield by Antonio Brown on this Power O to keep the CB from filling. Like the effort, something I was disappointed with last week.


– Another terrible backside block that never affords the runner a chance to bend the run back. Ramon Foster trips over Kelvin Beachum.



– 3rd and 10 screen. Not a fan of this call given the down/distance. You can tell it’s a true screen too because of the receivers blocking downfield. No lineman even pulls either, which I suppose is to try and sell it. But I wouldn’t call that on 3rd and 10.


– Bengals with a nice concept to free up curl routes they ran so effectively early in the game. Two receivers to a side against the Steelers’ base defense. ROLB bumps and read #2, not allowing him to get depth to defend curl on his hook/flat.



– Their OC, Hue Jackson, calls a great game. One of the best I’ve seen. And a guy who deserves another shot to be a head coach. Raw deal with the Oakland Raiders.

– Perhaps a little difficult to see from the aerial view but Stephon Tuitt with proper leverage, the ability to shed, and force the cutback on this zone run.



– Appears Martavis Bryant drifts on this route, letting the CB make a play on it and cause the pass to fall incomplete. Bryant needs to be crisp on his breaks to allow his body to box the defender out.



– Send Bryant vertical to carry defenders with Lance Moore breaking off. No depth from the Bengals’ linebackers, ton of space for the receiver. 29 yard gain.


– Playaction on the goal line one of the toughest routes to defend for a defense. And the Bengals got burned on Heath Miller’s grab. If you’re a step late, you’ve lost. And lose Cincy did.


Also of note on that play, like the subtle motion of Palmer from the offense’s right to the left. Draws safety George Illoka away from where Miller will be breaking into the flat.


– Kick return unit from left to right. Shamarko Thomas, Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Ross Ventrone, Vince Williams, Shaun Suisham, Sean Spence, Antwon Blake, Will Johnson, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Will Allen.

– 56 yard gain by AJ Green. Mike Mitchell has already taken the blame for it. There’s no WR to his side, meaning he should be reading anything vertical from the other side of the field, especially #2. He reads the TE to Mitchell’s side instead and is late turning and running to defend Green.



– The Steelers have been this close on getting to the QB on the big plays they’ve allowed. Steve McLendon a tick late on the 56 yard gain.


– Sure the Bengals saw this one on the photos after their drive. 1st and 10, first play in the Steelers’ red zone, and there isn’t a good job containing Andy Dalton on this option play. RB gets the carry here but next time down, on 1st and 10 on the first play in the red area, Dalton keeps and he scores.


And I’m pretty positive Lawrence Timmons is supposed to scrape. Jason Worilds is able to crash on the RB.

I’m just as disappointed Troy Polamalu bit on the touchdown scamper so hard. With the depth he had, there’s no need to guess. Read the mesh and find the ball. He completely guessed and had no justification to do so.

– Another issue in the secondary that led to a TD. William Gay bites on the run action and never gets depth to defend Jermaine Greshman on this corner route. It’s an easy touchdown allowed, an all too common theme for the Steelers’ defense in 2014.


– Fun battle to watch was Beachum versus Wallace Gilberry. Fantastic hand-fighting all game. Textbook, coaching tape stuff. You just don’t see it a lot with everyone trying to dodge (spin moves, speed rushes, etc). Example below. Fans of offensive line play will get a kick out of it.

– Mike Adams may be a strong run blocker in terms of actual, physical strength but his issues with leverage in the run game still make him a liability. Pops up off the snap, poor punch, and gets walked back. Run blown up.


– Love the close and big stick by Vince Williams on this screen. 98 brings a ton of energy and very few negative plays.

Le’Veon Bell making something out of nothing. Blocking scheme breakdown, Gilberry comes in free. Bell able to spin away and gain nine.



He’s a special one, for sure. Enjoy it. Never know how long a RB can last.

– Tale of two tackles. Beachum with the arm extension to keep the DE at bay. Adams…reverse pancaked to the ground.


That’s what I love about Beachum. Some tackles are segmented. Can’t move and punch. Not 68. Puts everything together. Punch, move, play with bend.

– Curl/flat concept for an easy completion. Flat widens the LB to open up the curl. Steelers did this with a slant/flat combo too.


Ben Roethlisberger completely misses Heath Miller over the middle for an easy six. Tries to force the throw to a covered Martavis Bryant in the end zone. Three throws near the goal line on that trip and a WR didn’t have a chance to compete for a pass on any of them. Not efficient.


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