What We Saw: Week 12

Is Cordarrelle Patterson the best waiver wire find of the year? Probably.

Steelers @ Bengals

Final Score: Bengals 41, Steelers 10

Writer: Sami Alsado (@samialsado on Twitter)

 

This was a dominant blowout in all phases of the game. The box score does more justice for this viewing experience than any words I can throw at it. The Steelers were simply dismantled by an ascending Bengals squad. Joe Mixon paced the Bengals throughout this game on his way to a career day while Joe Burrow‘s efficient passing and calculated risk-taking saw the Bengals score on their first four drives of the game. The Bengals never looked back and the Steelers put up little to no fight throughout the game until it was well out of reach.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterbacks

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 24/31, 263 yards 1 TD, 2 INT

 

Ben Roethlisberger struggled throughout this game, continuing to show diminished arm strength and lesser mobility than he has throughout his career. It is truly a marvel that this team has remained above .500 entering this game with this version of Big Ben at the helm. On Big Ben’s second pass of the game, he was attempting to throw a comeback route which Bengals CB Eli Apple ran better than the intended receiver Chase Claypool.

 

 

This was likely just miscommunication but it was also a poorly placed ball thrown into a non-existent window. The majority of his successful throws, like this one, were lofted up in 1 on 1 coverage where he tasked Diontae Johnson and Claypool with making aggressive plays on the ball. Those grabs were sprinkled in amongst Ben being unable to avoid pressure, taking 3 sacks, and making one absolutely devastating pick 6:

 

 

This throw exemplifies Ben’s struggles to zip the ball outside which gave Mike Hilton an easy walk into the end zone against his former team. The Big Ben we saw today is a bottom-tier QB struggling to hang onto his once-great career.

 

Running Backs

 

Najee Harris: 8 carries, 23 yards | 5 targets, 3 catches, 14 yards

Kalen Ballage: 3 carries, 21 yards | 2 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards

Benny Snell Jr.: 2 carries, 5 yards

Anthony McFarland: 2 carries, 2 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards

 

The Steelers abandoned the run game pretty early in this one due to their offensive line struggling to provide any room for Najee, supplemented by the fact that the Bengals stormed out to a sizeable lead. Najee Harris is still a very talented running back, but, days like we say today are certainly a possibility when the offense as a whole struggled to move the ball.

The rest of the running backs were mixed in throughout the game and with Ballage getting most of his work once the game was well out of reach. Snell is likely the backup but not one worth speculating on as of now.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Diontae Johnson: 14 targets, 9 receptions, 95 yards

Chase Claypool: 8 targets, 3 receptions, 82 yards

Pat Friermuth: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 40 yards, TD

Zach Gentry: 2 targets, 1 reception, 10 yards

James Washington: 2 targets, 1 reception, 3 yards

Anthony Miller: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

 

Diontae Johnson continues to be the volume-based chain mover for this offense, finding space underneath defenses, in the slot on short in routes, and on the sidelines on timing routes. He is truly the swiss army knife of this offense and finished with a respectable stat-line in a dud of a game for the offense, making one of the only highlight-worthy plays you could find for the Steelers today:

 

 

Pat Friermuth continues to chisel out a role in this offense, putting together an impressive rookie season on a below-average offense. Friermuth secured all of his targets in this game and showed strength to move a pile after his catches. The Steelers continue to show faith in Friermuth, lining him up outside and lobbing it up to him like they did on the Steelers one TD of the game a 15-yard sideline route win by the rookie:

 

 

Chase Claypool remains the deep threat in this offense, as Ben fluttered balls downfield while taking shots that he hoped Claypool would make an aggressive play on. A couple of times that succeeded, while another ended up in an INT(see the first GIF under Big Ben). Claypool embarrassed himself late in this game by taking an unnecessary unsportsmanlike penalty when he violently grabbed CB Darius Phillips‘ facemask which almost resulted in a brawl.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

Quarterbacks

 

Joe Burrow: 20/24, 190 yards, TD, INT | 1 rush, 8 yards, TD

Brandon Allen: 0/1

 

Joe Burrow continues to exercise the Bengals’ demons as he took down the Steelers for the second time this season. He wasn’t tasked with doing anything miraculous today but his ability to keep the offense in rhythm, scramble for the first TD of the game and continue to demonstrate a seasoned leadership far beyond his second-year status continue to impress.

Burrow’s first TD came on a scramble which saw him juke a defender and dive into the end zone like the risk-averse gritty competitor we know him to be. Naturally, this was a wonderful thing for Bengals fan to see their QB show confidence on his reconstructed knee as he continues to rediscover his mobility:

 

 

Burrow’s one passing TD came on a simple one-on-one downfield ball to Tee Higgins where Burrow placed the ball beautifully against a CB the Bengals targeted all game in James Pierre (GIF below under Higgins). Burrow had a perfect passer rating targeting Pierre throughout this game.

One play that will surely be making the rounds saw Burrow get rag-dolled by T.J Watt after throwing his only INT of the game:

 

 

Naturally, Burrow got to his feet as if nothing happened while his mafioso O-Line tended to Watt’s dirty antics. Burrow is a talented, tough natural-born leader and he showed all of that today.

 

Running Backs

 

Joe Mixon: 28 carries, 165 yards, 2 TD | 4 targets, 4 receptions, -2 yards

Chris Evans: 5 carries, 23 yards | 1 target, 1 reception 5 yards

Samaje Perine: 3 carries, 3 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

 

Joe Mixon absolutely dominated this game and was the brightest star on display for either team today. This was a career-high in rushing yards for Mixon, besting the 162 yards he had against Clevland in 2019.

He stormed out of the gates by putting up 54 yards from scrimmage on just the first drive. The Bengals O-Line provided consistent holes for Mixon, and Mixon hit the holes hard and stormed through arm tacklers throughout the game. Mixon could have had over 200 yards in this game if the Bengals didn’t pull their starters early in the 4th quarter.

 

 

One of the more miraculously noteworthy plays of the game showed how engaged, competitive and aggressive Mixon is when he stole an INT out of midair thanks to a juggle by Alex Highsmith:

 

 

Mixon is on a roll since last week’s 123 yards, 2 TD performance against the Raiders and continued that momentum and more today. He is an elite talent with a dream role.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Tee Higgins: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 114 yards, TD

Ja’Marr Chase: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards

Tyler Boyd: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards

C.J. Uzomah: 3 targets, 3 reception, 9 yards

 

Tee Higgins finally had the breakout game fantasy managers have been waiting for all season. He won jump balls with ease against the clearly inferior James Pierre:

 

 

Higgins was literally inches away from securing a second TD in this game when his knee hit the ground after securing a 19 yard gain all the way down to the one where Joe Mixon then punched it in. Higgins is a large-framed jump ball-winning receiver who showed off his skills today. He’ll surely continue to be a primary look for Burrow near the goal line and on one on one deep balls.

Ja’Marr Chase had arguably his weakest effort of the season today which likely will leave some scratching their head considering the output of the Bengals’ offense as a whole. Chase simply wasn’t needed today and the Bengals decided they’d rather target Higgins matched up on James Pierre instead of peppering targets to Chase like they normally have been. Fantasy managers would be happy to know that Burrow actually had Chase break open on a slant route in the end zone which would have salvaged Chase’s day if Burrow wasn’t blitzed into spinning, obstructing his view of Chase. This is merely a matchup-based blip in a record-breaking season for Chase.

 

Sami Alsado (@samialsado on Twitter)

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