With Heath Miller retired and newly acquired Ladarius Green still sidelined, many questions surrounded Pittsburgh’s new tight ends. Those questions were cleared up Sunday afternoon. Tight ends Xavier Grimble and Jesse James each scored a touchdown in a 24-16 win over the hated Cincinnati Bengals.
Pittsburgh Steelers Tight Ends Key in Win Over Bengals
The Steelers used the tight ends to control the tempo in a slow and sloppy game. With rain pouring down onto Heinz Field, both teams struggled with turnovers and failed to get their star receivers involved. Antonio Brown finished with just four receptions for 39 yards, and showed signs that he might actually be human. Brown dropped a wide open pass, and was quiet for most of the game. However the tight end play and another solid performance from the ageless DeAngelo Williams was enough to keep the Steelers offense productive.
Similarly, the Bengals struggled with their number one pass catcher. Wide receiver A.J. Green finished with just two receptions and 38 yards. The Steelers secondary made sure to eliminate the star wideout from the game and forced Cincinnati to find other weapons. The Bengals found one in rookie receiver Tyler Boyd. Boyd, a graduate of Clairton High School who played college ball at the University of Pittsburgh, was targeted eight times and accumulated 78 yards. Boyd was impressive in his second NFL game, and except for a controversial fumble on the Bengals last drive, played a clean game.
The Steelers also used field position to control the game. Punter Jordan Berry positioned five of his eight punts inside the Bengals 20 yard line. This kept Cincinnati out of rhythm and with their backs to the wall for most of the afternoon.
When Cincinnati tried to establish tempo, it was interrupted more than once by linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shazier built on a strong performance last week by leading the game with 11 total tackles and flying around the field. Not to be ignored is the improved play from the Steelers secondary. The locally known “Lurk Gang” of Robert Golden, William Gay, Mike Mitchell, and Ross Cockrell combined for 20 tackles and delivered more than a few heavy hits on Bengals receivers and would be receivers.
Going into next week, it would be smart for the Steelers to continue to include their tight ends in the offense. Brown should be back to normal, and Williams shows no signs of slowing down. With an early leg up on the Bengals in the AFC North, things are looking bright in Pittsburgh. If this trend of high performance continues into next week, look for it to be sunny in Philadelphia.