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 the teams that played and ultimately select a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week. And the Week 14 winner is ...
Following a big performance against the Giants, the Steelerstook it to Buffalo on Sunday and solidified their spot at the top of the AFC North (with the help of a Ravens' loss Monday night). Playing in the snow is an offensive lineman's dream, as the team is likely to run the ball because of the conditions. I have to credit offensive coordinator Todd Haley for feeding Le'Veon Bell, who finished with 38 carries for 236 rushing yards, beating Willie Parker's franchise record of 223 yards. Bell is the first player since Hall of Famer Jim Brown to have at least 225 rushing yards, 50 receiving yards and three touchdowns in one game. Bell, who Pro Football Focus had rushing for 100 yards before contact, totaled more scrimmage yards (298) than the entire Bills' offense (275). Rex Ryan's defense is aggressive and isn't afraid to blitz, so it's remarkable that Bell had only ONE negative carry in his 38 attempts.
Not only did the Steelers pound the rock in snowy conditions, but they were the top-ranked pass-blocking unit last week, according to Pro Football Focus. Although Ben Roethlisberger had a rough day (17 of 31 for 220 passing yards with zero TDs and three INTs), the O-line didn't give up a sack or quarterback hit and allowed just one hurry to a Bills' front that was third in the league in sacks (33) coming into the contest.
The Steelers were again without Ramon Foster (chest injury), so B.J. Finney filled in at left guard. Although Finney gave up the lone hurry and had two penalties, he played fairly well. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva was the group's best-graded run blocker, according to PFF, while right tackle Marcus Gilbert had the best overall game of the unit. The O-line made Lorenzo Alexander and Jerry Hughes non-factors; however, Kyle Williams did not play and he would've certainly tested Finney. This group controlled the line of scrimmage and helped the Steelers win time of possession.
Other notable O-line units of Week 14
Tennessee Titans: The Titans maintained their tie for the division lead by outlasting the defending Super Bowl champions. They were outgained in the game (253 total offensive yards to Denver's 348), but the most lopsided stat came in the run game. The Titans had 180 rushing yards to the Broncos' measly 18 -- yes, you read that correctly. The Titans nearly racked up 200 yards on the ground despite not having a 100-yard rusher. DeMarco Murray finished with 21 carries for 92 yards, while Derrick Henry chipped in 42 yards and Marcus Mariota added 38.
Mariota had season-lows in numerous categories, completing just six of his 20 passes for 88 yards and zero touchdowns, earning a 45.4 passer rating. There were two sacks on Mariota, as the O-line struggled to pass off some twists. Other than the two sacks, which took the Titans out of contention to win this week's award, the unit gave up just five hurries and no QB hits. Tennessee was PFF's top-ranked run-blocking and No. 2 pass-blocking unit in Week 14.
Houston Texans:The big division win at Indy kept the Texans at the top of the AFC South with the Titans. Houston racked up a whopping 185 yards on the ground. Lamar Miller had 107 yards on 21 carries and eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season for the second time in his career. PFF had the Titans down for 111 rushing yards before contact, most in the NFL in Week 14. Brock Osweiler put in another pedestrian performance, completing 14 of 24 passes for 147 passing yards and zero TDs (against one pick). However, he was protected well with no sacks or QB hits, and just eight hurries. Second-year center Greg Mancz deserves a shout-out for his solid game, despite having a pair of penalties. He's a rising star and someone to keep an eye on.