In today's fantasy-obsessed football world, it's easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara is here to fix that. Following each week's games, O'Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all teams that played and ultimately select a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week. And the Week 4 winner is ...
An embarrassing 34-3 loss to the Eagles in Week 3 sparked major questions about a Steelers team that most expect to still be playing in January. After struggling -- along with the rest of the offense -- against the Eagles, the O-line answered those doubts with "a bell" this week, a 43-14 thrashing of the Chiefs, who held the Jets to just three points the week prior. Running back Le'Veon Bell didn't disappoint in his much-anticipated return for the Steelers, as he had 18 carries for 144 yards, averaging a whopping 8 yards a tote. The performance was also his ninth career 100-yard rushing game.
The great story on this offensive line is left guard B.J. Finney. The former walk-on at Kansas State, who spent the bulk of last season on the Steelers' practice squad, made his first career start Sunday, replacing the injured Ramon Foster. Finney did a great job, along with right tackle Ryan Harris, a former Kansas City Chief who came in for starter Marcus Gilbert (ankle) in Sunday's game. All in all, the Steelers' O-line ranked fifth-best in pass-blocking in Week 4, according to Pro Football Focus. The unit was blamed for just one sack -- the other sack was tagged to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger -- and no quarterback hits. This group provided a great pocket for Big Ben on a lot of play-action passes, most of which ended up being big plays. Roethlisberger finished with 300 yards and five touchdowns on 22 of 27 passing.
Another notable performance was David DeCastro's. He really bounced back from his showing in Week 3, when he gave up three sacks and a quarterback hit.
Other notable O-line units in Week 4
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys had another big week on the ground against the 49ers, as rookie Ezekiel Elliott averaged 6 yards per carry with 138 yards on 23 carries. This unit -- again with Chaz Green and Ron Leary respectively playing in place of starting left tackle Tyron Smith and left guard La'el Collins -- was the top-ranked run-blocking group of the week, and it also gave up zero sacks and one quarterback hit. While both tackles (Doug Free and Green) gave up a couple of hurries, the rest of the interior was extremely stout -- 69 percent of Dallas' rushing yards came on runs between the A-gaps.
Cincinnati Bengals: On a short week, the Bengals contained a very stout Dolphins front and improved to 2-2 with a 22-7 victory on Thursday night. Although the line wasn't overwhelmingly dominant in run-blocking, it was phenomenal in the pass-blocking ranks (third in Pro Football Focus). The Bengals didn't allow a sack -- the one recorded sack was on a blitz and attributed to Andy Dalton -- or single quarterback hit, which is impressive, given the talent of Miami's defensive line. Right guard Kevin Zeitler played well, rendering Ndamukong Suh a non-factor in the game.
New Orleans Saints: At first glance, the Saints' offensive line was one-dimensional, with New Orleans running the ball a mere 83 yards (2.4 yards per carry). But where this unit really flexed its muscle was in the passing game. Quarterback Drew Brees stayed pretty clean throughout, with the exception of four plays (one hurry, one QB hit and two sacks) on 38 dropbacks. Andrus Peat looked solid after sliding over to play left tackle for Terron Armstead, who was inactive (knee). Tim Lelito started at left guard and also had a good performance for the Saints, who desperately needed the road win vs. the Chargers.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders traveled from coast to coast to face the Ravens on Sunday and came up with another big road victory. Although Oakland didn't do much damage on the ground (19 carries for 62 yards), the offensive line again kept Derek Carr upright. The second-best pass-blocking unit this week (according to PFF) didn't allow any sacks or QB hits, which is impressive, considering who was on the other side: Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, who made his season debut after having foot surgery in the offseason.