The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in the most unlikely of ways, but when looking at the team's snap totals in the game, they were able to achieve balance in many key areas.
When most people think of balance on a football field, it is usually focused on the offensive ration between run and pass. Granted, that specific type of balance is extremely important for many reasons, but the Steelers were able achieve different types of balance which also was extremely important for the team's success in the Wild Card round.
First, it should be noted there were 74 offensive plays, and 74 defensive plays. Compared to previous weeks where the Steelers defense failed to get off the field on third downs, and the offense was either going three-and-out or scoring quickly, this provided quite the change of pace. The Steelers defense held the Cincinnati offense to 5-for-15 on 3rd downs, which helped even out the play distribution.
For the first time all season, the snap totals for Jarvis Jones and James Harrison were near equal. Harrison tallied 39 snaps, with Jones counting on 35. This is the balance the team hoped they would have when they entered the season, and fans might just be witnessing Jarvis Jones turn the corner and begin to play up to his draft position.
A very similar balance can be spoken in regards to the secondary. The rotation the team had used since Week 13 against the Indianapolis Colts was abandoned for William Gay (72), Brandon Boykin (62) and Antwon Blake (62). Ross Cockrell, the defensive back left out of the mix, played just 10 snaps in the game Saturday night in Paul Brown Stadium.
At the wide receiver position, it was a "More Martavis the better" philosophy which paid dividends for the black and gold. Antonio Brown played all 74 offensive snaps, and Martavis Byrant was second on that list with 59 snaps. The next receiver on the list was Markus Wheaton with 49 snaps and Darrius Heyward-Bey with 23 snaps.
You can see the entire Steelers snap totals below, courtesy of Pro-Football Reference.
(Editor's Note: Jarvis Jones continues to be listed as Jacoby Jones.)
Steelers Snap Counts