On Monday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers were without Joe Haden, and Mike Mitchell, leaving Coty Sensabaugh and Robert Golden to fill their secondary spots respectively. Golden had been in and out of the lineup over the past few weeks as Mitchell fights through an ankle issue. Sensabaugh was on his third consecutive start with Haden out indefinitely.
Cincinnati Bengals forced Pittsburgh Steelers to bench Coty Sensabaugh
Sensabaugh has not been great in his replacement, but he has not killed the team yet either. On Monday, Sensabaugh had dug the hole, but it was not enough to completely bury the Steelers. It did bury any chances of Sensabaugh continuing to start for the Steelers in lieu of Haden, though.
The Bengals flat-out exposed Sensabaugh. It started on the second drive of the game. They threw a quick screen out to A.J. Green. You could see the uneasiness of Sensabaugh as he ran up and tried to tackle Green for a four-yard gain. The Bengals saw it too. They attacked the next play and Brandon LaFell got seven, mostly all after the catch.
From there, they knew they had Sensabaugh where they wanted him. He looked uneasy, he bounced around the secondary unsure of when to pass off assignments, and he got abused by A.J. Green, who put up 60 yards and two touchdowns in the half. Andy Dalton’s passing chart says it all.
He relentlessly looked to that side of the field, leaving the left side almost bare. A.J. Green was 6-8 for 60 yards and two touchdowns when lined about against Sensabaugh. Dalton was 8-11 for 78 yards and those two touchdowns attacking the offseason acquisition. Half of his first-half attempts were thrown in the direction of Sensabaugh. Throwing to anybody else resulted in Dalton being 13-25 for 156 yards.
The Steelers went to a third-round rookie who has been on the Injured Reserve for the majority of the season to fill in for Sensabaugh and the plan worked. Game flow and time of possession did factor into the Steelers holding Cincinnati to three points in the second half. This is not to say that Sutton played good or bad, or that he will be better than Sensabaugh moving forward. However, on that particular night, the Bengals had more respect for the unknown of an unproven rookie than they did the veteran, Sensabaugh.
The tape was out there. He had bounced around the league for a reason, and as mentioned was not particularly strong for the Steelers before this game. Now, if the Steelers were to go back to him, offenses know to test him early and often, especially on quick passes where he has to make tackles. This is a recipe for him getting benched again. The Steelers are going to have to roll with the rookie Sutton for the time being and hope that he can hold up until Haden is fully recovered. One thing is for sure though. There is no going back to Coty Sensabaugh.