This film study was, honestly, possibly the easiest that I have had to do, quite simply because veteran inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was a constant presence for the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday versus the Bengals. The plays worth reviewing pretty much picked themselves out. So with that in mind, there’s no use in delaying.
Early in the first quarter, on Cincinnati’s opening drive, the Bengals got inside the Steelers’ 10-yard line when the defense finally started to shut down. It started with Timmons making a tackle after beating the fullback out in front for a one-yard gain. The defense held them to a field goal a few plays after this one.
Of course, later in that opening quarter, the Steelers nearly had a major goal-line stand, during which they were able to stop running back Jeremy Hill three times from the one-yard line on first and goal—and Timmons was responsible for two of them. On first and goal, he simply did a great job of working to the hole and putting a big hit on the back to turn him sideways at the goal line.
It was Timmons again with the stop two plays later with the Bengals showing 32 personnel with three tight ends and a fullback. The run came off right guard, and when there looked to be daylight opening in the defense, the 10th-year linebacker filled that void with his body as runner and tackler left their feet, and the old man winning the exchange.
Unfortunately, the Bengals did end up scoring on the next play on a quarterback keeper, but that should not diminish the quality of the three stops that the defense made on the three prior plays. One play that Timmons would like to have back, however, was an 18-yard reception to Rex Burkhead in the second quarter.
The Steelers were at the time trailing 10-3, with the Bengals driving to score again, first and 10 on the Steelers’ 31-yard line. Burkhead came out of the backfield, and Timmons was caught flatfooted and reacted slowly to the running back peeling toward the right sideline. The linebacker was suddenly in chase mode and did not catch up for 18 yards.
Of course, a good way to make up for giving up a play in the passing game is to make one yourself, and that is just what he did later, toward the end of the third quarter, when he got his second interception of the season.
Late in the game, when the Steelers finally seized the lead, Timmons helped close out the Bengals’ final drive with a quarterback hit on third and long that resulted in an incompletion. He just tossed Burkhead aside on that one.
Timmons has been playing his best football of the season during their five-game winning streak, and they need him to continue to play at this level in order to carry them through to the playoffs and beyond.