In the minds of many, fifth-year Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds has too often this season been disappearing from games—especially if you line up his production against the salary that he made this season.
Despite playing less games, Worilds finished his first full, uninterrupted season as a starter with less tackles, less sacks, and less forced fumbles—although he did record his first career interception.
Even though he closed out the last two games of the season with some stronger play, Worilds has been disappointingly inconsistent. But he did finish the regular season on a high note, playing well against the run, even if his late-game sack came as a result of the right tackle tripping over his tight end.
The Bengals found some early success off Worilds’ side on the ground, but this had more to do with the inside linebackers than anything Worilds was doing. Left to his own devices, for example, he was able to cut wide of the tight end on a run off the right side and still have the quickness to meet Jeremy Hill near the line of scrimmage for a run stop.
Worilds came back on the next play to tackle the back again for a stop in the run game, which set up a third and long. Off the snap, he crashed inside between the right tackle and the tight end, fighting for inside leverage and seizing upon Hill, bringing him down after three yards.
Early in the second quarter, it was Giovani Bernard underestimating his speed after the Bengals left him unblocked. The second-year back looked to go up the middle and thought he had time enough to stutter step, but Worilds was on him quickly and brought him down after a yard.
On the second play of the third quarter, the Bengals pulled the left side of the line, including two tight ends, around to Worilds’ side. Worilds stayed patient, absorbing the left guard, working off the left tackle, and making contact with Hill for another run stop.
As indicated above, Worilds’ work against the run came out a bit more impressive than as a pass rusher. In fact, some of his better rushes led to chunk plays for the Bengals’ offense.
A few plays after the run stop above, Worilds rushed off the edge and flushed Andy Dalton out of the pocket, but he was able to find a receiver on the run for 19 yards, albeit on a second and 20. Worilds also got pressure to help force a throwaway on the play before. On the Antwon Blake forced fumble, Worilds got a hit on Dalton.
It wasn’t until late in the game, with the Bengals down 10, that he finally got home as a pass rusher. As mentioned, the right tackle tripped over his tight end as he went out for a pass, but Worilds did show impressive closing speed to cap off the play.