The Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line played one heck of a game this past weekend, something I know we’ve already discussed several times. But it’s worth repeating and showing love to a unit that is habitually overlooked, especially when viewed in the national spotlight.
The Steelers’ starting five did receive some love from NFL.com’s Shaun O’Hara. A former linemen himself, he ranked them as the top offensive line of the week for their performance against the Cincinnati Bengals.
In part, he wrote:
“Exceptional from the start, the Steelers were Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 run-blocking unit of Week 6. They paved the way for another big day from James Conner…The offensive line also excelled in pass protection and kept Ben Roethlisberger clean against a solid Bengals pass rush.”
According to O’Hara, numbers I assumed pulled from PFF, tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Marcus Gilbert didn’t allow a single pressure the entire game. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t sacked, making that the third straight such game. He’s been hit only six times over that span, one of the most impressive stretches of his career.
The Steelers edged out the Cowboys, Chargers, Dolphins, and Patriots on O’Hara’s list.
At this point, Pittsburgh’s front five has to bee seen as no worse than a top three offensive line right now. Maybe you can still put Dallas ahead, though they’re hurt by the loss of center Travis Frederick, or the Saints, definitely aided by Drew Brees’ ultra-quick release, but no worse than third.
Even the team’s “worst” starter, I imagine most of you would pick Ramon Foster, is a more than capable starter on most teams. And he’s been playing really well lately after the sluggish start to the season recovering from his camp knee injury. I made a short compilation of some of his best plays earlier today.
The whole o-line played an amazing game Sunday but Ramon Foster in particular was excellent. Dude looks like he can still play at high level for several more years. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/qCioKDUI5A
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) October 17, 2018
The best part is this unit largely isn’t going anywhere. Foster is the only player set to be a free agent in 2019. But given his still stellar level of play and absolutely bargain bin contracts, his base salary is $2.65 million this year, odds are good he’ll return for at least one more year. Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey’s contracts expire after next year, meaning both players could be in-line for an extension this summer. Villanueva’s deal runs through 2020 while David DeCastro will be a fixture of the line for several more years. His contract runs through 2021.