After each game, there are some players who impress and others who disappoint. This is where our weekly Winners and Losers column was born. Sometimes being labeled a loser is a bit harsh, but invariably there are players in each game who simply don’t measure up to “the standard”.
Time to diagnose who falls into which category for the Pittsburgh Steelers after the Week 13 game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Not only did Roethlisberger go over the 50,000 yard mark for his career, he orchestrated several beautiful drives, including the game-winning drive to give Chris Boswell a chance to win the game, which he did. Roethlisberger’s 24-40 for 290 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception doesn’t scream off the box score, but he made plays when the team needed them. More importantly, he has been the guy the team needs him to be when it matters most the past few games, and that will have to continue if this team has championship aspirations.
#ToeWatch was all the rage before the game, okay, it was just me having some fun on Twitter regarding the media’s obsession with Brown’s pre-game warm up, etc. Nonetheless, if Brown was hurt, you wouldn’t know it. He finished with 8 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, and it could have been even better had he not dropped a few, which is rare. Of all his crazy catches this season, the touchdown reception while taking a HUGE hit should be up near the top. Just tremendous stuff.
The often maligned wide receiver didn’t have a huge game, statistically, but he made some very key catches in the fourth quarter to help seal the win for the black-and-gold. Bryant had four catches for just 40 yards, but when, and where, those catches were made certainly matter. Sure, he missed a deep ball, but he is becoming a threat opposite Brown, and Roethlisberger is starting to trust him again. Both good news for the Pittsburgh offense. Oh, and did he not look like a legitimate kick returner last night? Exciting stuff coming from No. 10 in the near future...I can feel it.
The Steelers don’t talk about contracts during the season, but if they are going to make an exception I would have them give the Wizard of Boz a new deal right now. Boswell was perfect, again, and hit another game-winning field goal as time expired. Boswell has never missed a kick at Paul Brown Stadium, and has been the final nail in the Bengals’ coffin more than the Cincinnati fans would like to think. One last thing here, how about his poise to remain calm after the Bengals jump offsides on the game-winning kick and there looked to be some contact with Boswell. Hard to believe Boswell won a tryout for the Steelers...
Another game in Cincinnati, another huge Le’Veon Bell offensive day and another ‘Posterization’ of Dre Kirkpatrick. All in a day’s work for Mr. Bell. Le’Veon Bell racked up over 170 yards from scrimmage, one being a nice easy jaunt down the sideline for a touchdown. When the Steelers needed a big play, it seemed No. 26 was providing the juice, pun intended. His conversion on 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter was a monster play most might have forgotten throughout the mayhem which was Monday Night Football.
If there was anyone who was impacted by the injury to Ryan Shazier the most, it was Vince Williams. Cameras captured Williams crying on the sideline, and rightfully so. The “Shake and Bake” duo on the inside of the Steelers’ defense is as tight as they come. When you are faced with this type of adversity, you typically do one of two things: Get the job done for your fallen teammate, or you fold. There is no “folding” with Vince Williams, and he finished the day with a team high 9 tackles, a huge sack, a sack, tackle for a loss and two quarterback hits. Shazier would be proud of Williams’ performance in his absence.
Injuries always suck, and should have a permanent place on the losers list, but when you see players getting carted off the field more than once, yes even Vontaze Burfict, it leaves a sick feeling in your stomach. It was difficult to focus on football most of the evening, and that is never a good thing when it is due to a serious injury like the one suffered by Shazier.
Sensabaugh has been ‘okay’ in Joe Haden’s absence, but he wasn’t anywhere near that level of performance Monday night. Sensabaugh was abused by A.J. Green on multiple occasions in the first half, so bad the team turned to rookie Cameron Sutton in the second half of the game. We really shouldn’t be surprised, after all, Sensabaugh nearly lost his spot on the team to Ross Cockrell before the season began. Think about that for a second. Will the team hand over the position to Sutton until Haden returns? That is up to Mike Tomlin, but I’ve seen enough of Sensabaugh to know I’ve seen too much.
It is the holiday season, and with my kids’ obsession with the Grinch, it reminds me of the scene where he is complaining about all the noise down in Whoville. “All the noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE!” This is what I felt like last night as I was saying, “All the penalties, penalties, penalties, penalties, PENALTIES!” Whether it was Bell getting provoked into a 15-yard penalty in the first quarter, the pre-snap fouls or JuJu Smith-Schuster taunting Burfict after he knocked him back into Sunday. The Steelers finished with 7 penalties for 66-yards, but those were just the accepted flags. Still a lot to clean up before Week 14.