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Pro Football Focus outlines Artie Burns’ bounce-back game vs. the Bengals

The second year cornerback bounced back in a big way vs. Cincinnati, and it could bode well for the future.

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 regular season hasn’t been a smooth ride for second year cornerback Artie Burns. The Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 first round draft pick has shown shades of brilliance, and plenty of moments which made you want to slam your head into a wall.

On Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals, Burns not only had a bounce back game, but showed a level of consistency he had yet to deliver this year. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Burns graded out with the highest grade among the Steelers in Week 13.

Many don’t like the way PFF grades players, but regardless of the final result, the amount of time and analytics put into these numbers certainly carry some relevance when you watch the games unfold.

Take a look at the top grades for the Steelers in Week 13:


CB Artie Burns, 85.3 overall grade

WR Antonio Brown, 82.9 overall grade

DL Cameron Heyward, 82.6 overall grade

CB Mike Hilton, 81.2 overall grade

TE Xavier Grimble, 79.8 overall grade

PFF digs deeper into the Week 13 game, and highlights several players who performed at an extremely high level. Here is who they highlighted after Monday Night Football:



With pre-game questions as to whether Brown would be effective enough to even play, he put on quite a display of toughness on Monday night. Brown was targeted a whopping 15 times catching eight balls for 101 yards and the game tying touchdown, where he held onto the ball after taking a vicious shot from George Illoka. Brown almost caught another touchdown but the ball was dislodged as he went to the ground. Brown was also able to draw a pass interference penalty at the end of the half to get the Steelers some much needed points going into the locker room.


Although Bell got off to a slow start for the Steelers, he was absolutely integral to the Steelers’ ability to move the ball. Bell’s 182 yards from scrimmage accounted for 47.6 percent of the Steelers’ scrimmage yards. Without holes that opening up immediately for Bell, he had to account for many of his rushing yards himself, with 53 of his 76 rushing yards coming after contact. Bell was a much larger force as a receiver though, catching five of his six targets for 106 yards including a catch where he toed the sideline so well that the three Bengal defenders surrounding him gave up on the play as Bell waltzed into the end zone. His production was also crucial in the final drive to set up the game winning field goal.


Burns impressed in coverage Monday Night, leading to a grade of 84.6 in that category. He was thrown at six times, allowing only two catches for 25 yards while recording a pass break up and limiting Bengals receivers to one yard after the catch. Burns held his own while in coverage against A.J. Green, not allowing a catch on three targets.


Heyward didn’t necessarily fill the stat sheet but was able to shed blockers and clog up his lane in the run game, leading to a run-defense grade of 81.9. The Steelers were able to generate 13 pressures against the Bengals but Andy Daltons 2.16 average time to throw was often too quick for the pass protection to break down. Heyward has enjoyed a successful season so far, recording 27 run stops and 53 total pressures.


The paragraph about Burns is certainly noteworthy, especially his time going against A.J. Green, but it also should be recognized the Bengals likely put Green on either Coty Sensabaugh or Cameron Sutton more than Burns as they wanted to exploit the matchup they felt would give them the best chance to win.