CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers gets sacked by Manny Lawson #99 and Domata Peko #94 of the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Steelers won 24-17. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It's always been a difficult aspect for me to comprehend giving a player of the week award to a player on a team that lost the game. We already acknowledged Andrew Hawkins' third down reception, as well as A.J. Green's touchdown to cut Cincinnati's first quarter deficit in half. Other candidates this week could include Robert Geathers, who generated five tackles, 1.5 quarterback sacks and a team-high three quarterback hits. Frostee Rucker recorded five tackles and a quarterback sack. Geno Atkins contributed with four tackles, a sack and and two quarterback hits. Leon Hall, who struggled in the second quarter, did record an interception and a team-high three passes defensed. Rey Maualuga posted seven tackles during his return while tight end Jermaine Gresham scored a game-tying touchdown. All are worthy candidates. But we'll go with someone else.
Bengals strong-side linebacker Manny Lawson posted a team-high 10 tackles, a shared quarterback sack, tackle for loss and two quarterback hits against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Under intense pressure from Geno Atkins, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dumps off a third down pass to Isaac Redman in the flats. Manny Lawson dropped the running back for an eight-yard loss. On Pittsburgh's ensuing possession, Lawson combined with Domata Peko on a shared quarterback sack that was immediately followed with Robert Geathers' second down sack. Both pushed the Steelers into a third and 19 (that they would eventually convert).
On the following play with 4:11 remaining in the second quarter, Manny Lawson blitzed Roethlisberger, twisting the quarterback around as he released a poor pass for Rashard Mendenhall in the flats that fell incomplete.
With 14:04 remaining in the game and Pittsburgh holding onto a seven-point lead, Redman gets the handoff. Frostee Rucker squeezes down the line of scrimmage as an unblocked defensive end, wrapping Redman at the line of scrimmage where Lawson bulls him over to complete the tackle. With 11:39 on Pittsburgh's ensuing possession, Lawson disregarded a tight end block as a man would with a fly buzzing around the living room. As Rashard Mendenhall reaches the line of scrimmage, Lawson puts the running back down as if he were employed by Animal Control.
We're not sure if awarding a player of the week award for a losing team is really necessary, so we'll go with a guy that worked as hard as anyone on this defense that helped keep the Bengals in the game until the final seconds expired.