The Steelers lost their 3rd game of the 2020 season and fell to a Bengals team with two wins. Snatching an eleven-game win that survived Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges in 2019 doesn’t just happen, and the snap counts show the amount of revenue involved in the Steelers ’losing streak.
The Steelers had four of their offensive lineman healthy and played the entire game this week. Matt Feiler’s absence led JC Hassenauer to start his first career on guard and set a career high for snaps that played somewhere other than center. The Steelers turned Derwin Gray in for Hassenauer in 16 games, setting a career snap count high for Gray. While the Steelers have seen worse offensive line situations, it was clear from the start of the game that Ben Roethlisberger was not comfortable in his pocket.
Another number that stands out is Vance McDonald, who plays 60 snaps, his highest in the 2020 season and the 7th highest in his 8-year career. McDonald was not targeted in the game. Benny Snell was again the leader in runback snaps, but James Conners’ continued absence did not result in many Jaylen Samuels snaps in this game as the Steelers showed they were willing to give Benny Snell more snaps in passing downturns and it paid off with Snell averages over 4 yards per game. carry and catch 3 passes in 23 yards.
Without replacing Conner, Eric Ebron and Matt Feiler in this game, the offense was completely intact and completely dysfunctional.
Marcus Allen was a safety that could not get out of the training team in 2019. In 2020, he converted to linebacker and sat on the bench until injuries forced him into action. In Week 15, the situation was bad enough that Allen played 100% of defensive snaps and led the team in total snaps. In the Steelers’ three losses, their snap leaders have been Cameron Sutton, Cameron Sutton and Marcus Allen. When backups, even valuable backups, lead the team in snaps being played, there is a problem. Marcus Allen has been Steelers dime linebacker since Devin Bush was lost this season, but at this point he not only replaces Devin Bush in crown, he also replaces Vince Williams in other sets, while Avery Williamson replaces the snaps Robert Spillane took over when Devin Bush went down.
Alex Highsmith continues to log a huge snap count load, as the other options for the external linebacker are commitments that the Steelers cannot cover for with their current list.
Joe Haden’s return shielded the passing defense, but with frequent short throws, a driving game that was decently productive and no pressure to push the ball down against a Steelers team that did not score points, the Bengals never risked testing the Steelers’ secondary and spent most of the game after the inside linebackers.