Last season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were honored with the ‘Offensive Line of the Week’ distinction three or four times over the course of the season. Shaun O’Hara, a Super Bowl-winning Pro Bowl center for the Giants, does a weekly write-up for the league’s website.
It took six games, but they finally started to right the ship on Sunday in Kansas City, and it also earned them their first Offensive Line of the Week nod for their performance over the Chiefs, where they pretty much ran at will during large stretches of the game, though the final score didn’t quite show that.
Going up against the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City, the Steelers needed a bounceback performance — and that’s exactly what they got. One week after getting blown off Heinz Field 30-9 by the Jaguars, Pittsburgh’s offense racked up 439 total yards and dominated time of possession (36:39 to 23:21) in a 19-13 win. Ben Roethlisberger, who threw a career-high five interceptions in the embarrassing loss to Jacksonville, completed 17 of his 25 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown (against one interception) vs. K.C. But the real offensive workhorse was Big Ben’s backfield mate, Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers’ star back went from 15 carries for 47 yards (3.1 yards per carry) against the Jags to 32 carries for a whopping 179 yards (5.6 ypc) on Sunday. Bell’s second 100-yard game of the season was the first such effort yielded to an opposing back by the 2017 Chiefs.
While Ben Reothlisberger was sacked once in the game, O’Hara noted that it came off of a bit of an odd play when Le’Veon Bell tried to help out left tackle Alejandro Villanueva with a chip that ended up helping the rusher get inside for the only sack of the game. But the quarterback was kept clean throughout the day, even if he didn’t drop back as frequently.
He also praised the Steelers’ depth, as they were missing one lineman entering the game and lost another during it. Ramon Foster was for the first time replaced by B.J. Finney in the starting lineup, playing near where he grew up for the first time, so it was a big moment for him, and he delivered.
Marcus Gilbert at right tackle also returned to the lineup, but he had to check out after reaggravating his hamstring injury after Bell’s rushing touchdown at the start of the second quarter. He was replaced admirably by Chris Hubbard, who already started the past three games.
The game was certainly a performance—on the road no less on which the Steelers, and the offensive line specifically, have to build upon. It was easily their most fundamentally sound from a blocking schematic perspective, and the most well-executed. They need to be one of the top lines in football for the offense to work this season.