Each week Steel Curtain Rising grades the performance of the Steelers individual units. (We offer scouts honor that neither Gerry DuLac’s grades nor any other grades have been consulted. ) Here are the grades for the Steelers performance against the Buccanners.
Charlie Batch did not look like a man who had not started a game since 2007. He was far from flawless, throwing two picks which could have been costly, plus another should have been pick. But those blemishes do not obscure a brilliant performance. Batch went 12-17-186, but beyond the numbers, Batch had a commanding precense in the huddle and in the pocket. Grade: B+
Mendenhall ripped off 6 double-digit runs en route to 143 yards and 1 TD. Redman also broke double digits in his five runs for 31 yards. Power rush’s return to Pittsburgh was welcome, at least for one Sunday. Grade: A
Receivers and Tight Ends
Combined, Wallace, Ward, Miller and El only totaled 7 catches, but each man made his catch count. Grade: B+
The Steelers were substituting almost as much against Tampa as they had in Tennessee. But you wouldn’t have know it. They gave Batch time and opened the lanes for Mendenhall and Redman to move the chains. Grade: A
When your opponents’ leading rusher gained 27 yards you know it’s a good day for the defensive line. Ziggy Hood also had a pass defense. And of course, Brett Kesiel took one to the house. Can’t ask for much more. Grade: A
This group didn’t make the splash plays that it made against the Titans, but it didn’t need to. They got pressure when necessary, made plays in coverage, and in general stuff the run. Jason Worilds got his first sack. Grade: B+
William Gay nabbed a sack and while the Steelers did give up a long gain of 46 yards, that is as much on the linebacking and the line corps as it was the secondary. Ryan Clark recovered a key fumble. Grade: B+
Brown didn’t break a big one but he looked like he could have. Reeds kickoffs have been getting deeper, and Sepulveda boomed on for 62 yards. A very good day. Grade: A-
It looked like the Steelers might succumb to the dreaded trap game – for about a quarter, but no one will remember that come December. Charlie Batch was ready. About the only negative was the coaches decision to keep so many starters in late in the game. Grade: B+
Unsung Hero: The offensive line.
Batch, Wallace, Ward, and Kesiel took all the headlines, even the television crew failed to point out the regular substitutions as their colleagues had done the week before.
But Batch’s pocket poise and Redman & Rashard’s room to run only happen if the line does its job. It did it, and it did it well. Granted, no one will confuse this front seven with the 85 Bears front seven, but the offensive line dominated an opponent it should have dominated, and that’s where championships start.