Analysis: Steelers outcoach Bengals; Dalton seemed to make pre-snap decision not to go Green’s way

After drop after drop and turnover after turnover in the first twenty some minutes of the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers already 0-3 on the road this season, looked like a team unraveling.
Pittsburgh though clawed back and went to half with a tied ball game and had new life as the Steelers took over the game in the final 35 minutes of the game, en route to a 24-17 win, a game that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard says.
The Steelers in just a matter of one half went from a team where I was thinking to myself maybe this team needs to have a 6-10, 7-9 season to replenish through the draft to now a team with some momentum in a very winnable division and a conference that will likely be bunched up all season with mediocre teams.
The biggest thing that stands out from the last night’s game was how badly outcoached the Bengals were. The Steelers whole game plan defensively was to make someone other than A.J. Green beat them and the Bengals were not prepared to attack the Steelers dime package. With constant safety help on Green, Dalton and the Bengals did the Steelers favor by making a decision early on not to even looking his way and to attack the Steelers with a quick passing game elsewhere.
What going dime did was put Curtis Brown in the slot to matchup at times against  Hawkins or Dalton’s No. 2 pass catching option Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals two best playmakers outside of A.J. Green.
A key to the Steelers slowing down the Bengals passing game was the play of cornerback Keenan Lewis.
By doubling Green, that put Lewis  in 1-on-1 coverage on the outside and Lewis had an excellent game in all phases.
A key play in the game was on the Bengals opening drive of the second half. 3rd and 1 at the Steelers 30 yard line, Dalton goes deep to A.J. Green on a post route and Green has Ike Taylor beat for a TD but Lewis played the scenario perfect, letting his man to be picked up on a mid-range crossing route, and going towards Green to give Taylor helps where he {Lewis} bats the ball down saving a likely touchdown. Dalton hits Green there we might have had a different result in that ball game.
What was mind boggling with the Bengals game plan is how they didn’t attack Ike Taylor more despite the double coverage. Taylor has been very vulnerable to penalties and a lot of times it just seemed Dalton made a decision pre-snap to not even look that way due to the safety help. Guess they didn’t study this seasons tape on Taylor.
— Is the defense that showed up in the second half, the type of defense we should get use to seeing? I wouldn’t go that far yet. What was concerning again was in the first half where the Steelers front seven especially their defensive line was manhandled at the line of scrimmage. The Bengals opening drive of the game was embarrassing to watch where Ziggy Hood and Brett Keisel seemed like they were just cones out there. Both though were better in the second half, getting pressure and hands on passes but Hood is arguably one of the worst run stopping 3-4 defensive ends and Keisel has lost a step, so the issues with this D-line is not going away and I’m not sure what the Steelers are going to get from James Harrison this season.
Mike Wallace’s drops are inexcusable and while a few drops were tough catches, his focus is just not where it should be and people should not be surprised by that.
Jonathan Dwyer continues to show he deserves more looks even when the Steelers are fully healthy at running back. Mendenhall and Dwyer are the two best backs on this team.
Willie Colon for the second time in three games showed the type of flashes as a run blocker that had Steeler officials giddy this summer. He’s been inconsistent as a pass blocker, getting flat footed at times, but he is making slow improvement when pulling and he was dominant last night. The Steelers rushed for over 130 yards between the tackles.

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William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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