The Pittsburgh Steelers have theoretically erased their mid-season four-game losing streak by winning four games in a row. The most recent victory was a 27-20 win over the Buffalo Bills to propel their record to 8-5. Time to evaluate the game.
After every game there are players who deserve praise, and some who deserve to be tagged a 'loser'. See who falls into which category as the team now heads into Week 6 of the NFL regular season.
Le’Veon Bell - If there ever was a picture of a winner following a football game, it would be a picture of Le’Veon Bell. The man simply does it all. He was just yards shy of 300 total yards on Sunday, and finished with 236 yards on 38 carries, 4 receptions for 62 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Bell’s 298 yards from scrimmage were more than the entire Bills offense which gained only 275 yards on the day.
Offensive Line - You can’t have Bell be a winner without giving the hogs up front some love. For the second time this season, B.J. Finney has filled in for injured Ramon Foster, and not missed a beat. After a rough start to the season, David DeCastro has been living up to his new contract, and Maurkice Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and Alejandro Villanueva continue their stellar play. Their play wasn’t just great in the run game, they didn’t allow a sack, and only one quarterback hit throughout Week 14. Kudos to the ‘Munch Bunch’!
Chris Boswell - The cold, snow and wind are not easy kicking conditions, especially coming off injury. The Steelers dressed two kickers on game day, in case Boswell’s abdominal injury came back, but they didn’t need Randy Bullock. Boswell nailed both field goals he attempted, and was stellar on kickoffs...all after missing Week 13. Some might shake off his performance, but it was a pleasant sight as the team can now release Bullock and fill the spot with another player.
Pass Rush - Tyrod Taylor is a mobile quarterback, and LeSean McCoy is a tough assignment in his own right. Many wondered if the Steelers pass rush would be able to get to Taylor. They did, and in a big way. They were able to sack Taylor 5 times, and add 8 quarterback pressures. A solid day for a pass rush once left on the side of the road for dead.
Rookie Representation - Don’t look now, but Artie Burns and Sean Davis continue to make plays on a weekly basis. Burns had his 3rd interception of the season, at a very important part of the game, and Davis was second on the team with 7 total tackles and 3 quarterback hits. Solid play by the rookie duo.
Ben Roethlisberger - You hate to put Roethlisberger in this category, but his play was awful. In fact, his third interception, and second in the red-zone, still has me fuming. Roethlisberger finished the game 17/31, 220 yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs. Yeah, it was dreadful. Roethlisberger continues to play poorly away from Heinz Field, and if the Steelers want to be considered a contender, they will need Roethlisberger to step up his game on the road.
Second half tackling - The Steelers rush defense did a tremendous job vs. the NFL’s top rushing attack, but it is safe to say the defense got a little lackadaisical in the second half. It was there the team saw McCoy, Charles Clay and Tyrod Taylor all break tackles to gain extra yardage, and for some, add points to the scoreboard. Maybe they relaxed, but it was night and day difference between the first half tackling, and the second half tackling for the black and gold.
Needless to say, there is plenty for the Steelers to focus on heading into their Week 15 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, their final road game of the 2016 regular season.