Steelers vs. Bengals: DeAngelo Williams ruled out
By Tim Weaver
The Pittsburgh Steelers have lost more Pro Bowl caliber running backs this season to injury than most NFL teams even have on their roster.
LeVeon Bell missed the first two games of the regular season due to a suspension. When he returned to the field he picked up right where he left off, dominating and proving that he’s still the best running back in the league.
Bell scored a touchdown in each of his first three games and had over 100 yards from the line of scrimmage. He was running all over the Cincinnati Bengals when Vontaze Burfict brought him down near the sideline at an awkward angle, which tore his MCL and put him on the shelf for the season.
In came DeAngelo Williams, who played brilliantly in September with Bell missing in action. He turned the clock back and balled out the rest of the season.
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For the year Williams finished with 11 touchdowns, 907 rushing yards, 367 receiving yards, and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. One could easily make the case that he should have been named to the Pro Bowl.
Williams injured his ankle during the last game of the season against the Cleveland Browns and his status for this weekend’s wild card matchup with Cincinnati has been up in the air ever since. Now we have official word that he’s been ruled out, per NFL insider Ian Rapoport:
Where do the Steelers go from here at running back? The options are not very appealing.
In Williams’ absence last week Fitzgerald Toussaint stepped in and only managed 24 yards on 12 carries. It’s expected that he and Jordan Todman will split the carries on Saturday night.
The Bengals defense allowed only 92.3 rushing yards per game this season, which ranked 7th in the NFL. Opponents scored just eight touchdowns on the ground against them as well.
Neither Toussaint nor Todman are the kind of back that you’d expect to roll over a solid run defense like that.
Most likely Pittsburgh will be forced to rely more and more on their passing attack, and that represents a serious danger. Over the last several games Ben Roethlisberger has been forcing too many passes into tight windows or double teams and his numbers have suffered.
Big Ben has thrown seven interceptions during the last four games and quite frankly he’s lucky that number isn’t higher given the risks he’s taken forcing the ball to Antonio Brown.
The Steelers appear to be bringing a one-dimensional offense into a matchup with an opportunistic Bengals team that finished third in the league in interceptions.
Next: Steelers vs. Bengals: Coordinator comments
If this were a Star Wars movie, we’d be at the point when somebody says they have a bad feeling about this.