With Tyler Eifert leaving the game in the opening minutes with a concussion Let's take a look and see how the Bengal rookies did under the heartbreaking loss.
Shaw started the season on the sidelines, watching from the best seat in the house. Over the course of the season as the typical bumps and bruises led to a loss of playing time in the secondary for the regulars, Shaw was called upon to step up and fill the shoes of the established veterans. There seemed to be no bigger test than against the Steelers on Sunday. Shaw knew he'd have a big role in the game before it began with Adam Jones doubtful and while he didn't give up the big plays many would expect a rookie to make against the Steelers' speedy offense. He played cautious most game against the high-flying Steelers giving more than his fair share of yards to the likes of Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown on the offset yielding smaller gains in lieu of giant spikes. But what kills any team is a poor ability to stop an offense on third down and if the Bengals failed in any aspect more than another it was definitely this. Keeping a talented receiver in front is no small task, but preventing a catch is a game changer in itself. There were several occasions where Shaw was merely trying to contain talented receivers rather than prevent bigger gains.
Shaw was burned here by Wheaton on the Steelers' opening drive. Shaw seemed to play off the main targets to suppress larger gains down the field. Here we see in one-on-one coverage, Shaw is roasted on a well placed sideline grab.
In what was seemingly a normal occurrence on Sunday, Shaw was subject to leaving receivers in front rather than challenging the play, leaving the ever-stalwart Roethlisberger plenty of time to pick his options. This is not symptomatic of a Bengals defense but rather a side effect of a banged up secondary.
Shaw did provide a bit of a highlight after taking down Antonio Brown for a loss on third and short. The call was challenged in regards to the position of the football but was upheld and Shaw got credit for settling the Steelers up for a field goal instead of a first down.
Shaw will most likely played a bigger role than he'd expected at the start of the season and while Pittsburgh boasts intimidating wide-outs they're hardly an anomaly from what Shaw will see in the post-season. Hopefully it's not a re occurrence of what we hope to see of contains and prevents and more of an aggressive pressure toward would be targets.
Kroft's lone catch on the afternoon was negated by an Andrew Whitworth hold in the fourth quarter. What would have been a first down was then drawn back and led to the second interception of the game for the young backup McCaron. Kroft did a good amount of blocking on more than 40 offensive snaps due to Tyler Eifert leaving early in the second quarter due to concussion symptoms. It was his moment to step up and see something different, but the Bengals in dealing with a backup quarterback were held mostly to a pass block scheme. Kroft has promise to be the most successful Bengals rookie of the season, but it's clear his duties are to block first and move down field second.
Smith was limited against the Steelers, failing to record a tackle during the contest on two defensive plays. The emergence of Troy Hill puts into question what exactly Derron Smith might offer the Bengals down the road as even against the Browns, Hill took significantly more snaps than Smith.
In his second active game, Ogbuehi didn't get much of a jump in playing time, only playing on six plays, despite Jake Fisher's concussion. The line struggled throughout the day against a rush that was licking their chops on an inexperienced quarterback who also happened to hold the ball split seconds too long. While the line didn't give up all that much, it didn't provide tremendous coverage either. The Steelers outworked the Bengals up front all day and you can blame that on a number of reasons.
Uzomah was active for the game against Cleveland last week and claimed a spot on the active roster again this week, despite having Eifert back to start the game. He only manged time on one offensive formation and spent the majority of his time on special teams. While Uzomah's rookie counterpart Tyler Kroft continues to get more of the looks, Uzomah will simply play the fourth chair on the Bengals' offensive orchestra.
Hill didn't make much of an impact on Sunday, which would be expected from an undrafted free agent rookie in a high-pressure, division game. He'll continue to get his chances, pending the health of the defensive backs.
Jake Fisher was inactive for the first time this season due to a concussion suffered in practice this week. He joined the list of the often-inactive players including P.J. Dawson, Mario Alford, and Marcus Hardison.