Kelvin Beachum has been one of the best quiet stories surrounding the Steelers this season. A former seventh-round pick who once played tight end and center in the same game, Beachum is filling one of the biggest holes the team has had during the last few seasons at left tackle.
Whether the team will keep him there long-term is another story, but he's taking advantage of the opportunity he was given in 2014 and, according to football play-evaluation web site Pro Football Focus, Beachum just played the best game of his career.
He was given a 4.1 grade for his performance in the Steelers' 42-21 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14, and with it, he boosted his overall grade to 16.8, the fifth-highest mark among offensive tackles in the NFL. We didn't put Beachum in the Winners side of our Winners and Losers column, but upon a second viewing, he deserved to be there.
Beachum spearheaded a strong pass-protection performance from Pittsburgh's offensive line, showing again the value of that group. When they protect Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, they score points and they win games.
Helping in that effort was a dominant rushing performance. Also aiding that effort was tight end Matt Spaeth who, along with getting a season-high two targets on the game, blocked in the run game very well. PFF gave him a 3.5 grade overall, with 3.1 in run blocking. Running back Le'Veon Bell became only the second player in NFL history with three consecutive games gaining 200 yards or more from scrimmage. PFF graded him at 1.3. Roethlisberger got 2.1, and Antonio Brown had 1.9.
Defensively, PFF's grade reflect a strong if not outstanding overall performance, with the top grade going to linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who was in our Winners column. Timmons scored a 2.8 grade, boosting him into the top 10 at his position overall with a grade of 9.4 The Steelers' run-defense played well overall against a strong rushing team. Their grades reflect as much, with a -0.2 overall grade for run-defense. Cincinnati has one of the best offensive lines in football and, considering the Steelers were without starting defensive end Brett Keisel and starting outside linebacker James Harrison - two key players against the run - the Steelers should be happy with their overall performance.
OLB Jason Worilds received the lowest grade on the team, -2.8. Right tackle Mike Adams received the only negative mark over -1.0, grading out at -1.9.