CB William Gay came up with the theory, CB Stephon Tuitt put it into practice and WR A.J. Green was more than contained in what became a 24-16 victory over the Bengals.
"He's a one-of-a-kind talent in the NFL," Cockrell explained late Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field. "We made an effort, we made a gameplan structured to not let him beat us. We threw the bus at him. We played zone, man, blitz. We threw it all at them to try to limit his touches."
Green wound up with two catches for 38 yards on eight targets.
This was the same Green who caught 12 balls for 180 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals' opener against the Jets and CB Darrelle Revis.
Game action from Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
This time it was Cockrell following Green from side to side, as Revis had done, per Gay's instruction.
"I talked to William Gay (last week)," Cockrell said. "He's our defensive captain. He told me he wanted me to do this and I just followed his lead."
Cockrell wasn't solely responsible for Green.
He covered other receivers on occasion and often had help on Green.
But Cockrell was nonetheless critical to the Steelers' executing their defensive gameplan in a winning fashion.
"We liked the matchup because of the physical stature but we still did a lot of things schematically to hopefully minimize (Green's) impact on the game," head coach Mike Tomlin explained.
"(Cockrell) did a nice job."
Cockrell appreciated the responsibility that was thrust upon him but wasn't overstating his contributions in relation to those of the group.
"We're the Steelers' defense and I'm proud to be a part of it," he said.
TWO-TIMES-SIX:** TE Jesse James came up with his first TD catch of the season and TE Xavier Grimble produced the first TD reception of his career on a day when the Steelers were forced to find alternatives to WR Antonio Brown, who drew the majority of the coverage attention from the Bengals as anticipated.
"They do a good job of trying to take away the outside, putting two guys on 'A.B.' and rolling some guys to the other side," QB Ben Roethlisberger said. "It just opens up the inside of the field."
TE Heath Miller had accounted for 20 catches in two regular-season games against the Bengals last season.
"You can't replace that guy," Roethlisberger said. "We're not trying to replace Heath Miller.
"I thought we saw some plays being made, some big-time catches and some effort plays that were awesome."
Tomlin had identified the tight end position as one that would be challenged against Cincinnati because of the "ridiculous and physical mismatch issues" the Bengals' defensive ends create.
James, Grimble and David Johnson also made plays for a running game that was more persistent (36 carries, 124 yards, 3.4 per attempt) than combustible.
"They're doing their jobs," Tomlin announced after the Bengals game. "They're developing as we're developing, collectively."
JUST A NUMBER:** RB Le'Veon Bell had a game-high 132 yards from scrimmage (94 rushing, 38 receiving) and became the 13th active player with at least 10,000 career yards from scrimmage (10,044).
"It's 10,000 yards," Williams observed. "Somebody said in the locker room, 'You're either old or you are good, which one are you?' And I was like 'I don't know.'
"It's yards, man. I am hunting one thing and one thing only and that is a Super Bowl. The 10,000 yards up until this point haven't translated into a Super Bowl, so it means nothing to me."
THEY SAID IT: "I think we proved today it's not all about 'A.B.' We have other guys that can make plays." _ Roethlisberger on winning on a day when Brown was held to four catches for 39 yards on 11 targets.
"I was proud of both teams, how we kept it in the white (lines) and in between the whistles. That was old school, AFC North football." _ FS Mike Mitchell on the Steelers and Bengals playing a physical, combative game that didn't get out of hand.