All the way in which again in Week 1, the Cincinnati Bengals turned the ball over 5 instances in opposition to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which promoted chatter relating to how the Steelers’ Cowl 2 protection was the Bengals’ kryptonite.
10 weeks later, the Steelers did not assume to convey it again out with out having to face Ja’Marr Chase once more. The consequence was the Bengals’ different No. 1 receiver, Tee Higgins, having himself a unprecedented day that includes 9 receptions and 148 yards.
Not a lot went down within the first quarter for Higgins, however Joe Burrow hit him on three consecutive performs early within the second quarter, and the Steelers stayed in the identical protection for all three performs.
The Steelers introduced a five-man strain on this play and performed man protection with a free security serving to out within the deep center.
The Bengals have been in a single-width formation, with all-three vast receivers and Samaje Perine lined as much as the left facet and solely Hayden Hurst lined as much as the fitting.
The Steelers elected to not flip their nook to the opposite facet if the formation, so Levi Wallace was matched up with Hurst whereas security Terrell Edmunds matched up with Higgins within the slot. This was a mistake.
On this third and 4 play, Burrow discovered Higgins throughout the center for a 24-yard pickup.
On the very subsequent play, the Bengals got here out in one other empty formation, with two receivers unfold out to the fitting and three receivers unfold out to the left. Higgins was the second receiver on the left.
Matched up in opposition to the Steelers’ nickel again, Higgins threatened vertically and bought the defender to show his hips. This opened up Higgins for a six-yard achieve on the hitch route.
Higgins lined up outdoors on the highest of the formation for his third consecutive reception. This time he ran an out route that Cameron Sutton couldn’t get to quick sufficient and picked up 13 yards.
The Bengals have been in a position to reap the benefits of dangerous matchups to get the ball to Higgins for his first two receptions, however this time he bought it carried out in opposition to the Steelers’ finest cornerback.
The Steelers ran a extra conventional Cowl 1 on this play. They’d man protection with inside assist each beneath and excessive.
The Bengals got here out in a bunch formation with Higgins on the skin. As soon as once more, Higgins threatened the defender vertically, however hitched up and picked up 12 extra yards.
The Steelers tried to get difficult on this play. Though they lined up with two deep safeties, Minkah Fitzpatrick finally ends up enjoying robber, seeking to leap the underground routes. He is too late to the get together, although, and permits Higgins to make the catch for a 17-yard achieve.
On this play the Steelers run Cowl 3, a protection which is infamous for giving up the flats. Higgins runs one other out and makes a leaping catch to haul it in for 12 yards.
With the Steelers in Cowl 3 but once more. Burrow hit Higgins in a good window so as to add 16 yards on this play.
The Bengals lined up within the bunch once more on this play, and Pittsburgh countered with Cowl 1. Higgins had a terrific launch. He stemmed to the skin, however as soon as Wallace turned his hips, Higgins got here again inside, releasing vertically proper off his again. After stacking Wallace, Higgins continued to realize separation and was in a position to haul within the cross for 33 yards.
This was one other nice route by Higgins. He lined up inside, as soon as once more, drawing the protection of nickel again Arthur Maulet. A delicate jab step to the skin was sufficient to get Maulet to lean and switch and permit Higgins to get inside leverage and decide up 15 extra yards with a catch.
The Bengals did an amazing job of making the most of what the protection was giving them, particularly by transferring Higgins within the formation and creating matchups. This shall be much more enjoyable to observe when Chase is added again to the equation,