Do any of you readers remember how many sacks the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense recorded during their 20-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season?
I’ll give you a hint, it rhymes with ‘hero.’
Despite his struggles with accuracy during the first half of the game (25-of-45 total), Ginger Spice Dalton stood like a statue on most of his drop-backs while he carved Pittsburgh’s defense for 280 yards and a touchdown.
Naturally, the fact that Pittsburgh’s defense did not create much pocket collapse in their first matchup with the Bengals did not sit well with Ziggy Hood. Pittsburgh’s defensive end was less than thrilled with the way him and his teammates along the defensive line performed in that particular game.
We are going to try and create as much havoc as we can and put as much pressure on the guy that we can, [...] We have to help our linebacker corps. We have to put pressure on him [Andy Dalton] and take it off the back end. We have to help our guys out.
With Jason Worilds as Pittsburgh’s only pocket-collapsing force at the outside linebacker position at the moment, some added heat from the likes of Hood, Cameron Heyward, Steve McLendon and Al Woods would be much appreciated.
To his credit, Heyward has been a pocket-collapsing force since he assumed a starting role over Hood at mid-season, so his presence alone should help the front three wreak more havoc around Ginger Spice. The former Ohio State Buckeye has recorded a career-high 4.0 sacks this year, and added an impressive seven passes defensed to his stat line as well.
Heyward’s emergence aside, the Steelers will need to produce consistent pocket-collapse if they wish to keep AJ Green and the rest of Cincinnati’s talented pass-catchers from hurting them too often on Sunday evening. Keeping Dalton off-balance and uncomfortable will be key, especially since he has been mistake-prone at times this fall.
However, if Dalton is able to throw from a clean pocket on a consistent basis, then 5-9 will be more of a reality than a nightmare for the Steelers.
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