We have been talking a fair bit about DeAngelo Williams this week—admittedly, much of it coming from myself—regarding just how valuable he has proven to be this Pittsburgh Steelers team week in and week out, virtually negating a drop after losing All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. By season’s end, in fact, Williams should be in the Pro Bowl conversation.
The rejuvenated ball carrier posted his third 100-yard rushing game in six starts Sunday night against the Colts, rushing for 134 yards on 26 carries, and he surprising had just one explosive play during the game, so it’s worth taking a look at, starting with that early 21-yard run.
The run came on the Steelers’ second offensive play of the game, trapped on their own five-yard line on second and 11. As would be expected, the run was blocked well, particularly up the middle, with Williams following his fullback and showing the ability to get skinny through the hole, showing acceleration on the other side.
Of course, it needs to be mentioned that he fumbled twice in this game, for three fumbles on the season, and he is fortunate to have lost only one of them, but the first one put the Steelers in a vulnerable position, as it came just two plays after this run deep in Steelers territory, but the defense held the Colts to a field goal.
As the former first-round back has shown, however, he is not simply a straight-line runner, but is a true every-down back in spite of the fact that that is rarely something that he has had to be in his career. He has yet to give up pressure in pass protection, and he was excellent picking up the linebacker coming through the A gap on a deep ball that traveled about 40 yards in the air.
Like Bell, some of his most impressive runs this year are the ones that don’t go for big yardage, but could have gone for much less, or even a loss. Late in the first half, he spun away from the grasp of a defensive tackle, turning up the A gap for a six-yard gain where there should have been nothing.
Still later in the half, Williams helped the Steelers get into the end zone before the half with an early drive 10-yard reception in which he showed open field elusiveness, breaking the first tackle to get to midfield.
Early in the second half, with the offense looking to start putting the game away, Ben Roethlisberger hit Martavis Bryant for a 68-yard touchdown pass. He had a clean pocket in part because of Williams’ ability to pick up the back side rusher, though Roethlisberger also rolled away from the short side of the field.
Williams punished the Colts’ front line on the Steelers’ next series, posting double-digit rushes on three straight carries in a four-play span. The blocking set it up for an easy run, but his ability to freeze the safety in the hole bought him several extra yards.