QB – (C) Not one of Ben Roethlisberger’s best performances for sure. The Bengals certainly seem to have his number, as they continue to frustrate the Steeler’s quarterback. In his last 4 games against Cincinnati, Roethlisberger has a 5/5 touchdown to interception ratio and a completion percentage of only 62%. The poor weather conditions may have had something to do with his play as well. Roethlisberger made big throws when he had to, including his three touchdown passes.
RB – (A) DeAngello Williams earned every one of the 94 yards he gained on Sunday. It was tough running all day as the Bengal defense gave Pittsburgh’s offensive line all they could handle. Williams averaged less then 3 yards a carry, but somehow still managed to look impressive doing it. Once again he was the star player on Pittsburgh’s high powered offense.
TE – (A) Don’t look now, but Jesse James is becoming a big time tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. James had his first touchdown reception of the season. What really stood out on the coaches tape was his improved blocking. James did a nice job blocking Carlos Dunlap in pass protection on several occasions. His evolution into a complete package at tight end has been impressive so far. Xavier Grimble chipped in with a touchdow reception, while David Johnson continued his exceptional blocking.
WR – (C) A frustrating day all around for this group, but especially for all-world receiver Antonio Brown. At one point he could even be seen yelling at Ben Roethlisberger. The one bright spot at this position was Sammie Coates. For the second game in a row Coates proved to be a viable deep threat, grabbing 2 catches for 56 yards.
OL – (C) One thing we learned is that the Bengals defensive line and linebackers are far better then the Redskins group. The Steelers offensive line struggled all game to create holes in the running game. Alenjandro Villanueva had another tough game in pass protection. He once again is the weak link on a very good line.
DL – (B+) Another week, another dominant performance against the run for this defensive line. The Bengals only managed 46 yards rushing for the entire game. Stephon Tuitt put together another fantastic performance on Sunday. Going forward, this group will also need to develop a pass rush because the outside linebackers are non factor in that area.
OLB – (C-) Instead of beating a dead horse on the lack of pass rush, let’s focus on the positive. Jarvis Jones is quietly having an excellent season. He is being asked to drop into coverage quite a bit and is doing very well in that role. Jarvis has been extremely close to a sack on more then one occasion. I can see him ending the season with 5 plus sacks, and a few interceptions as well.
ILB – (A) Ryan Shazier is on his way to a historic season if he can stay healthy. Shazier was everywhere in this game disrupting the Bengal offense on what seemed like every play. He lead the Steelers in tackles with 11 on the day. Lawrence Timmons also had a solid performance, as the inside linebacker position continues to be the strength of the defense.
C/S – (B) In the Steelers bend but don’t break philosophy, the secondary is going to give up some yards in the passing game. This game was a good example as Andy Daulton threw for 366 yards, but only one touchdown. The one touchdown being the key stat for Pittsburgh. The corners played well overall all things considered. William Gay had some huge hits against the Cincinnati receivers. This defense is tailor made for his talents. on the other side, Ross Cockrell did an admiral job shadowing A. J. Green for most of the game. Rookie Artie Burns had mixed results on the day. He had a fantastic pass break up of a sure touchdown pass. He also missed a crucial open field tackle that resulted in a touchdown.
ST – (B) Antonio Brown was used in punt returns to try to jump start the return game to no avail. The kicking game was solid again this week.
Coach (A) These two teams are so familiar with each other it’s hard to get an edge in this area. It will be interesting to see if Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin can come up with some wrinkles to jump start the offense the next time these two teams meet. Same could be said for the Bengals, as Keith Butler had the defense well prepared for the game.