Steelers – Bengals Round 1: Why Some Teams’ Holes are More Gaping than Others’

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The Steelers screen game, which we previewed last week, was utilized as heavily as we predicted. The Steelers often took advantage of the Bengals’ Cover 2 offense, lining up three receivers to the Bengals’ two defenders. Carlos Dunlap recognized the wide receiver screen a few times and even ran Mike Wallace down from behind. Michael Johnson, too, played heads up against the screen and was able to drape himself all over Heath Miller to prevent positive yardage on a screen.

Vontaze Burfict was everywhere on the field, finishing with 15 tackles. He was often breaking up screens and shooting gaps confidently in the running game.

Vontaze Burfict blows past the Steeler’s offensive lineman to make a stop against the run.

On this play early, Burfict shows he is ready to play. He shoots the gap so quickly that the guard completely whiffs. He was the polar opposite of Rey Maualuga, who struggled in both phases of the game. On one bunch formation from the Steelers in the 4th quarter, Burfict shoved Maualuga in position to guard the screen, something Maualuga had failed to do all game. Maualuga can not even line himself up, let alone the defense, and found himself pouting early on after Chris Crocker’s interception.

Rey Maualuga pouts while Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker celebrate Chris Crocker’s interception.

Maualuga had played the seam route underneath, and Crocker played it on top. Rey was a few steps behind but played it well. Crocker intercepted the ball like a good ball-hawking safety, then celebrated with Reggie Nelson while Maualuga sat and watched with some hideous body language.

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