The Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t play a complete game in Sunday’s 37-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, with the defense not being able to slow down Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow and the Bengals passing attack and the offense looking lifeless in the second half after a strong first half. Pro Football Focus released their weekly “One Up, One Down” article where they look at one player who had a strong week and is on the upswing, and one player who had a down week. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt was listed as the Steelers’ “up” player, while cornerback Arthur Maulet was the “down.”
As for Watt, PFF’s Doug Kyed wrote “Watt generated three pressures and beat his blocker another four times as a pass-rusher. It wasn’t enough in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, however.” Kyed was focusing on Watt’s 82.4 pass-rush grade, so he didn’t mention Watt’s spectacular interception at the line of scrimmage that set up Pittsburgh with great field position and the chance to take the lead down 24-20. The Steelers, however, went three-and-out and kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 24-23.
For the most part, Maulet has been a nice surprise this season as a cover corner, but Sunday wasn’t his day. “Maulet surrendered six catches on nine targets for 81 yards and one of four Bengals passing touchdowns on Sunday,” Kyed wrote, explaining his poor 37.7 coverage grade. The touchdown he surrendered was to wide receiver Trenton Irwin, who was just elevated from the Cincinnati practice squad on Saturday and has just nine catches for 122 yards in his career. The touchdown was also the first of his career. The other three receiving touchdowns all went to Samaje Perine, Cincinnati’s backup running back. On the first one, a slip screen that Perine took 29 yards to the house, Maulet made an awful read that took himself out of the play. He’s definitely earned more playing time and a bigger role with his play up until yesterday, but there’s no denying that he struggled against the Bengals. Hopefully, he’ll be able to bounce back next Monday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
It just wasn’t a good day for Pittsburgh. On both sides of the ball, plays that should’ve been made weren’t, and as a result, the Steelers’ playoff hopes are all but dashed. At 3-7, the Steelers would pretty much have to win out to have a chance at making the postseason, and with two games remaining against the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, it doesn’t seem as if that’s going to be the case. For starters, the Steelers have yet to win two games in a row this season. For them to win seven straight, it would probably take a miracle.