Colin Dunlap: DeCastro’s Domination Of Suh Was Epic
It’s so simple, so sexy and so easy to watch the skilled players on a football field.
They zip down the swatch of grass with the speed of cheetahs, jump like they have pogo sticks for legs and just, well, make it look so easy.
Your eyes draw to the actions of Steelers receiver Antonio Brown as he races down the field, or his counterpart from the Lions, Calvin Johnson, doing all that Megatron does to make defenses look foolish.
That’s all well and good. It excites us, it makes us yell, it makes us stand up and high-five each other.
But consider this: Brute and bullish Steelers right guard David DeCastro very well might have been the biggest factor in his team earning a 37-27 victory against the Lions on Sunday at Heinz Field.
Know why? Because he never let Detroit’s all-everything defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh do anything.
Quite literally — he didn’t let Suh do a damn thing.
Suh finished the game as the victim of a shutout, as he couldn’t muster even a solitary tackle, let alone get to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for a sack.
Roethlisberger, who finished 29 for 45 for 367 yards and four touchdowns, largely has DeCastro to thank for staying clean.
When Suh tried to steamroll rush, DeCastro held his ground and got meaner and lower and out-leveraged him.
When Suh wanted to try his hand around the outside, DeCastro masterfully moved his feet and beat him to the piece of real estate Suh wanted to earn.
It was — for those who enjoy watching the non-sexy world of offensive line play — a masterpiece where DeCastro played the part of Chopin and Suh struggled to string together two notes.
There was no better microcosm for the day of both DeCastro and Suh on Sunday than what happened on a play with 3:58 remaining in the first quarter that started near midlfield and ended with Roethlisberger finding Brown for a 47-yard score to make it 14-0.
With Roethlisberger working out of the shotgun, the protection slid to the left, leaving DeCastro to stand and fight with Suh in a one-on-one clash. At first Suh stagger-stepped as if he was going to go inside of DeCastro, who held his sturdy ground.
From there, Suh tried to get to Roethlisberger by swimming through DeCastro’s right shoulder.
Still retreating at the time, and with Suh inching closer to Roethlisberger — who still had the ball — DeCastro gained sturdy footing, twisted Suh away from his passer and then violently shoved the pass rusher off-balance and, at least, 4 yards through the rainy Heinz Field sky.
As the traffic of DeCastro thrusting Suh swooshed by him, Roethlisberger coolly stepped up in the pocket and found Brown for the touchdown.
This was David DeCastro — a first-round pick himself — utterly dominating a mountain of a man many experts consider one of the finest pass-rushing prospects to ever have his name called in the NFL Draft.
DeCastro didn’t care it was the 2010 Associated Press Rookie of the Year.
Or a two-time Pro Bowler. Or an All-Pro.
It was just another guy across the scrimmage line in DeCastro’s continued ascension toward becoming a rock-solid offensive lineman in this league.
DeCastro didn’t just win the encounter on that scoring play. No, he won it seemingly all day; on each snap that Suh lined up inside and overtop of him.
The crazy part is, DeCastro wasn’t the only one.
On Will Johnson’s short touchdown catch that put the Steelers up for good — at 30-27 with just under five minutes left — Suh fired off the ball, looked to have some leverage but was flat-out bulldogged from there by Marcus Gilbert. So much so that Suh spun defeated away from the block and jogged harmlessly away.
The Lions were defeated.
Suh was defeated.
For all that happens within the confines of those lines on a football field, so often too many of us find ourselves tunnel-visioned into watching the quarterback or tailback or receiver, with the ball in their hands flashing genius.
On this day and in this win against the Lions however, it was David DeCastro.
The proof is on that stat sheet — where Ndamukong Suh’s name doesn’t appear.
Not even once.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.