Cincinnati Bengals Grades: Week 14 Vs. Steelers
It is hard to be mad at the two guys who have previously helped to shut down the likes of Jimmy Graham, Andre Johnson, and Mike Evans in the past three games. It was more a matter of what they didn’t do in this game than what they did. The didn’t have a pass deflection or an interception. They didn’t force a fumble or make the game saving tackle. They did their job and stopped most that players that got to them but they didn’t do anything special or spectacular.
Containing guys like Marcus Wheton, Martavis Bryant, and Antonio Brown is a task and they seemed up to it for a whole quarter and then they started to pick apart the Bengals secondary. It was not pretty and the 94 yard touchdown pass to Bryant was icing on the cake to ask, where was the Bengals secondary? Only four pass deflections to their credit and they allowed 350 yards through the air.
Vincent Rey was spectacular in stopping and assisting in stopping the run and short pass game. He had 15 total tackles including six solo and 1 pass deflection. Rey Maualuga had two solo and eight total tackles in controlling the entry to the second level. Emmanual Lemur was good and did his job for four total tackles. The only real marks against these guys is they got tired and the run game took off, and they could not get pressure to Ben Roethlisberger.
Defensive Line: D+
Only one tackle for loss, no sacks, one QB hit, and no forced turnovers, sounds like a good day for an offensive line. The only problem is this is not a grade for the Steelers O-Line, but for the Bengals defensive line. They were exposed for most of the game, got limited pressure on Big Ben, and they could not stop the run. It was a huge problem which reflects in their grade.
Special Teams: B-
Last time the Bengals met the Steelers, Kevin Huber didn’t see the field the rest of the year. This time, most of his punts were solid and on point except one when the game was pretty much out of reach. Tate did a good job in his return game and was able to get the Bengals better field position in almost every return. The issue was a fake punt that went for a fumble, and although recovered by the Bengals with first down yardage, was called back because rule states is down at the spot unless the fumbling player recovered it and was turned over on downs.
They abandoned a fairly successful run game well before the fourth quarter due to the deep ball success between Dalton and Green. An early timeout being blown in both halves on offense. The defense allowed way to many yards and seemed to abandon deep coverage with passes underneath. This defense was picked apart and Paul Guenther has taken a top 5 defense, three of the last four years, and turned them into a 23rd ranked defense.
Overall Grade: C-
The only thing holding this grade above the D mark is that the offense was better than average. Past that, this defense, minus the linebackers was no where to be found by the fourth quarter. They will need to win 2 of 3 in the home stretch to have a chance at the division and even a wild card spot.