For the second time this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were awarded the weekly Offensive Line of the Week nomination from the NFL Network’s Shaun O’Hara, if that sort of thing interests you. The unit previously won the weekly honor back in Week Six during a win over the Chiefs, which at the time was Kansas City’s first loss of the season.
While the Steelers did not run the ball much, Le’Veon Bell gained 69 yards on 14 carries and the team combined for two scores on the ground. The offensive line also kept Ben Roethlisberger clean, officially surrendering no sacks while the quarterback completed 20 of 29 pass attempts for 226 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Oh, and they managed to do all of that without Antonio Brown, the league’s leading receiver in spite of the fact that he has missed most of the past two games. The Steelers have been getting contributions from all over the place in the All-Pro’s absence, something that bodes well for the future.
“No Antonio Brown? No problem”, O’Hara wrote in his column. “Pittsburgh rolled into Houston without the all-everything receiver and still averaged a healthy 5.7 yards per play in a 34-6 blowout of the Texans. The Steelers excelled in two crucial areas: third down (7 for 12) and red zone (four touchdowns — and two field goals — in six trips)”.
He also called the offensive line “exceedingly well-rounded and deep”, and wrote that it “certainly proved its worth against Jadeveon Clowney and Co.”.
The former offensive lineman gave particular credit to the right side of the offensive line, with Pro Bowl right guard David DeCastro and the returning right tackle Marcus Gilbert, in his first game back from a suspension for four games.
O’Hara writes that the offensive line gave up just one hurry on Roethlisberger during the game on 29 drop backs, though the Steelers did have a sack removed because the aforementioned Jadeveon Clowney was flagged for a facemask while bringing Roethlisberger down.
Last season, if I recall, the Steelers’ offensive line earned O’Hara’s praise as the top unit of the week on three separate occasions, but the inaugural Offensive Line of the Year Award last season went to the Dallas Cowboys.
This season, the Steelers, Cowboys, and Raiders have all sent three representatives from their offensive line to the Pro Bowl. For Pittsburgh, Alejandro Villanueva is making his first trip, while DeCastro is making his third trip, all in a row. Maurkice Pouncey is going for the sixth time.
This was just the second time in team history that the team has had three offensive linemen go to the Pro Bowl in the same year. This is clearly about as good a line as the team has ever had, and that has to be acknowledged, as does their depth. The contributions of Chris Hubbard and B.J. Finney the past two seasons have been invaluable.