DeAngelo Williams only averaged 3.3 yards per carry when he ran the ball 23 times for 76 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals, but he managed to score two touchdowns and pull off some key runs against a defense that had been stingy all of 2015.
Williams' success, as most running backs, was due in no small part to the success of the Steelers' offensive line. The Bengals' defensive front might be its most talented group as it has caused plenty of headaches across the NFL. But when it met with the injured Steelers' offensive line that sported three undrafted players in Cody Wallace, Ramon Foster and Alejandro Villanueva, it did dominated the line of scrimmage in crucial times.
We take a look at three of the bigger plays the Steelers' pulled off on the ground and how the offensive line pulled each of those plays off.
Here the offensive line does a good job of creating a wall at the line of scrimmage and keeping Williams clean enough so that he can read where the defense's second level of defenders were located. Here he can identify that his isolated linebacker has already left his feet and Williams successfully maneuvered his way into the end zone.
It is not often that you see an NFL tackle pulling to the interior of a running play and making a solid block, but Villanueva does just that on this occasion. This trap play is set up by Villanueva's seal, Cody Wallace's block on Vontaze Burfict and David DeCastro pushing his man way down the line to open up the hole. The result is an easy 15-yard gain for Williams.
Three key blocks also setup this play. Cody Wallace again gets to the second level take a linebacker out of the play, while DeCastro again negates Pat Sims at the line of scrimmage. DeCastro sets this up with a great reach step to get around Sims and allow him to setup his leg drive to keep Sims from interfering with Williams' running lane. Roosevelt Nix does what he does best by setting up the opposite side of the hole for the touchdown run.
The offensive line did have its problems against the Bengals, but it also came out victorious on more than enough occasions for the Steelers to win the game. Williams has learned how to be a more patient running back in his age and as long as the offensive line does not utterly lose the line of scrimmage, he can assess the best plan of attack and run hard into a lane.
While DeCastro works as the anchor for running schemes in Maurkice Pouncey's absence, he has been aided by solid performances from other players. Cody Wallace has been adequate as a center, while Villanueva has made more than signficant strides at the left tackle position since the injury to Kelvin Beachum.
In an effort that de-throned the NFL's top scoring defense coming into week 14, the Steelers now have an opportunity to do the same to their successor, the Denver Broncos.