Steelers Winners and Losers: Week 16
Playoff bound! The Pittsburgh Steelers are advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Todd Haley’s head isn’t being called to the chopping block, young players are finally starting to produce, and the defense had possibly its best performance all year. What a good time to be a Steelers fan. Pittsburgh routed the Chiefs Sunday afternoon and will play the Bengals Sunday NIGHT for control of the AFC North and if Pittsburgh wins, the 3 seed in the AFC playoffs. Let’s take a look at your week 16 Pittsburgh Steelers Winners and Losers.
Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt
There will be a couple of paired players in the winners column this week. Hayward deserves his own column because of the fantastic game he played, however. He was consistently in the backfield and had 1.5 sacks, 4 tackles and 4 knockdowns on the day. His season has solidly improved and seems ready to take over for Brett Keisel. He was a monster Sunday afternoon. Stephen Tuitt didn’t have quite the game Hayward had, but his improvement throughout just the past couple games needs to be recognized. He registered a sack and 3 tackles and a tackle for loss. He gets more and more pressure on the QB every week, and Heywards pairing with Tuitt looks to be bright for the Steelers defensive line.
Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds (93) and defensive end Cameron Heyward (97) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Worilds and James Harrison
Again, Harrison deserves his own column for the game he played, but Worlds did register more sacks. Harrison was an absolute beast against the Chiefs. Left tackle and first overall pick Eric Fisher was a boy playing a mans game when he went up against Harrison, who registered 1.5 sacks, 7 tackles and 2 tackles for loss. Consistent pressure on Alex Smith resulted in him being uncomfortable in the pocket and even led to other sacks. Jason Worilds quietly made his presence felt as well behind the big games of Harrison and Hayward, registering 2 sacks in the game. I know some think he should leave as a free agent, but it seems like the linebackers and defensive line are coming together, and Worilds is a key piece to their continual development. For the right price, the Steelers need to do what they can to bring him back.
13 tackles. 1 4th and inches tackle for loss on the shiftiest back in the game. Timmons needs no more explanation on why he deserves to be on this list. 13 tackles says enough.
Now I know Bell didn’t have much room to run, but when you look at the job the Steelers offensive line did in pass protection against the leagues leading sack leader Justin Houston, veteran Tamba Hali and NT Dontari Poe, they deserve to be on the winners list. The Steelers allowed only one sack, and it was Houston against Kelvin Beachum, but even then Ben had several seconds to get rid of the ball. Marcus Gilbert had an up and down day, but pass protection sure improved with him back. This line isn’t even coming together anymore, there are pretty much there and peaking at the right time.
Really didn’t see any major losers like we see some games, but Alex Smith still threw for 311 yards. Blake played very soft coverage all day against Dwayne Bowe and if it wasn’t for a miss on Alex Smith, Blake was beat long by Albert Wilson. However, he did have a pass breakup on Bowe in the end zone that was perfect coverage.
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