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 winner is ...
There were so many teams in the mix for this award, but one offensive line shined a little brighter than the rest. It may seem like the Steelers played a long time ago -- you might have missed it, from all that tryptophan in the turkey -- but they demolished the Andrew Luck-less Coltsin the Thanksgiving nightcap. The Colts don't boast a great run defense, and Le'Veon Bell was up to his usual ways, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The NFL's leader in scrimmage yards per game (142) also grabbed four catches for 22 yards. The Steelers (6-5) finished with 148 rushing yards and 369 total offensive yards.
Ben Roethlisberger didn't need to do a whole lot because the Steelers were effective on the ground, but he completed 14 of 20 passes for 221 yards and three touchdown passes (all to Antonio Brown) for a 146.0 passer rating. More importantly, Big Ben was not sacked or hit the entire game. The offensive line gave up just four hurries in the win.
Other notable O-line units in Week 12
New Orleans:Drew Brees and the Saints put up another jaw-dropping performance against a Rams defense that ranked sixth overall, fifth in scoring and sixth against the pass coming into Sunday's contest. Sean Payton put 49 points on the unit led by former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, as his team was 5 for 5 in the red zone. The Saints had 555 total offensive yards -- 209 of those came on the ground -- and outgained the Rams by 308 yards. Mark Ingram had 146 yards on 14 carries for an unbelievable 10.4 yards per carry, and Tim Hightower chipped in 51 yards on 15 touches. The Saints running backs rushed for 98 yards before contact. Brees was sensational once again at home with 310 passing yards and four touchdowns. He eclipsed 30 touchdowns in a season for the ninth time in his career, tying Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
Brees continues to torch defenses behind his offensive line, completing at least 70 percent of his passes in six straight games. The O-line did a good job against Aaron Donald and a lot of blitz packages. All that kept the Saints from winning the award were the two sacks (one by Andrus Peat and another late sack by Terron Armstead), three hits and five hurries surrendered by the line. The group played well through adversity, as Armstead went down in the third quarter, forcing Peat to move out to left tackle while Senio Kelemete came off the bench to play left guard.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans took advantage of a Bears defense that continues to fight the injury bug, racking up 375 yards of total offense. Coming into Sunday's contest, Tennessee boasted the NFL's best red-zone offense, with 27 touchdowns on 36 appearances inside the 20-yard line (a 75 percent success rate). Tennessee rushed for 149 yards thanks to the combination of DeMarco Murray (43 yards), Derrick Henry (60 yards) and Marcus Mariota (46 yards). Mariota wasn't sacked for the fourth time this season and threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Not only was he kept upright, he wasn't hit and was only hurried three times.
Dallas Cowboys: No shocker here: The Cowboys are the only team in the NFL to rush for 100 yards in every game this season. The Cowboys finished with 163 rushing yards and were led by Ezekiel Elliott's 97 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He continues his pursuit of Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record and is well on his way to becoming the first rookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards since Edgerrin James in 1999.
The Cowboys had 353 yards of total offense and were 4 for 4 in the red zone as they held off the Redskinson Thanksgiving Day. Dak Prescott did a great job taking care of the football, and he didn't just use his arm in the win, as he rushed for 39 yards on eight carries (both career highs). The only sack given up was by tight end Jason Witten. The O-line wasn't credited with a sack or QB hit, but the unit did allow six hurries.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders held on to beat a Panthers team that was fighting for its season and came out victorious, 35-32. While the Raiders didn't do much damage on the ground (55 yards), Derek Carr was able to overcome a dislocated pinky and throw for 315 yards and two touchdowns. He was pressured on 10 of 40 snaps, according to PFF, and was sacked twice -- one was on a scramble and the other was credited to Menelik Watson, who came in as the extra lineman at tight end. Despite those two sacks, the Raiders still have allowed the least in the NFL (13).