After a game there are players who impress and some who disappoint. This is where our weekly “Winners and Losers” column was born. Sometimes being labeled a loser is a bit harsh, but ultimately there are players every game who simply don’t measure up to “the standard”.
Shazier is an all-or-nothing player, and the past two weeks Steelers fans have seen both of these players. In Week 3, it was the nothing Shazier, but Week 4 it was the all Shazier. 11 tackles, 10 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, three pass defenses and one interception. When Shazier looks like he did on Sunday, he has All-Pro written all over him.
The Cinderella story continues with Mike Hilton. Hilton continued his stellar play with 4 tackles, a sack, an interception, a pass defense and a tackle for a loss. He isn’t a starting defensive back, but he is quickly making his own niche within the Steelers defensive ranks.
Well, I’m pretty sure we can all agree Bell is back. What took so long is anyone’s guess, but Bell had an extremely impressive day in Baltimore. 35 carries for 144 yards and 2 touchdowns was impressive to watch, but so were his 4 receptions for 42 yards. It was good to see the old Le’Veon Bell show up at just the right time for the Steelers who desperately needed a win after falling flat on their faces in Week 3.
The youngster continues to improve by the week. Smith-Schuster’s blocking is exceptional, and he tallied three catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns against the Ravens. At no point in his NFL career, and especially Sunday, the game never looks too big for him. When the Steelers chose to place Eli Rogers inactive for the game, it mean more looks for ‘JuJu’, and he cashed in.
When Heyward was lost for the 2016 season due to a torn pectoral muscle, you almost forgot how good he was. If you had any doubt, there was none on Sunday when Heyward gathered 4 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 2 quarterback hits, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Just read those stats again. Yeah, Heyward dominated, and he is making a name for himself as one of the best interior defensive in the NFL.
One of the reasons Heyward is dominating so much? Because Stephon Tuitt is a force on the other side. Tuitt returned to the field for the first time since being injured two plays into the Week 1 game vs. the Cleveland Browns, and his presence was noticeable. His 3 tackles, .5 sack, one tackle for loss, and 2 quarterback hit day might not make it seem as if he deserves to be on the winners list, but the man was all over the field making plays. He and Heyward easily make up the best two DE 3-4 combo in the game today.
2nd Half Play Calling
The first half was a thing of beauty. The Steelers were very run-heavy, and it was working, but pass protection allowed them to throw when they had to. In the second half, the Steelers felt as if they could just continue to do the same thing, without the Ravens even making any adjustments. The key missing piece to this offensive puzzle very well could be better situational play calling all around.
3rd Down Offense
For a second in the first half, I thought the 3rd down offense was on its way to returning to form. Then the second half started. In the first half the Steelers were 5/8 on third down, but just 2/5 in the second half. This was a step in the right direction, but the offense simply can’t go cold as it did on Sunday.
Penalties continue to haunt this Steelers team. Another 8 penalties to add to their resume. Just undisciplined in every sense of the word.
The Antonio Brown “interception”. That is all I have to say about the officiating in Week 4. Pathetic, and the NFL should be ashamed.
Chris Boswell missed a field goal which would have answered the field goal the Ravens tacked on after the botched Brown interception call, but the miss gave Baltimore new life. On top of that, Jordan Berry certainly didn’t have his best day, averaging just 37.5 yards per punt, and of his 4 punts only putting one inside the 20-yard line.