Steelers Report Card vs. Colts

As a teacher, you have a strict policy. No credit for showing your work all is pass-fail. Yet, you itemize report cards and are disappointed when your students’ worksheets betray their sloppiness as the Steelers did in their outing vs. the Colts.

Here goes the Steelers report card for the Colts game, with the caveat that no other report cards have been consulted.

Ben Roethlisberger played another great game, and was particularly sharp on those all-important third downs. Although his line has given him little chance against All-World defenders, 7 of the Steelers 9 turnovers have left Ben’s hand to find its way into an opponents. Ben has adjusted his game to get rid of the ball faster, but he’s got to protect it better in the pocket. Grade: B

Running Backs
The Steelers poor run blocking is one of the more disturbing aspects of the 2011 campaign thus far, but Rashard Mendenhall must shoulder some blame for inability to ever get more than 2 yards on first down. Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore gave the Steelers what they needed on the final drive. Grade: C+

Wide Receivers
The amount of talent this group has is breath taking. Mike Wallace is a budding superstar. Antonio Brown is not far behind. This group came up big throughout the game, although both Sanders boneheaded drops on key plays, which lowers the group grade a little. Grade: B+

Offensive Line
The Steelers have had some weak performances from the offensive line since 2008, but the Colts game was one of their worst. Yes, Ben had time on some throws, but twice Colts defenders caused strip-sacks while getting to Ben untouched. And there is little or no consistency in their run blocking. Inexcusable. Grade: F

Defensive Line
This unit needs to be prepared for cut blocks because more are on the way. Ziggy Hood looked good at times, but the Steelers need a little more from their front three. Grade: C-

James Harrison’s making his presence felt is a welcome sign for all of Steelers Nation. But the Steelers need “Splash” plays from the rest of their linebackers, especially young guns like LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons. Ryan Clark should not be tackling so many running backs. Grade: B

Is it possible to say enough good things about Troy Polamalu? Here’s a guy who, if he doesn’t make a game-changing play, gets accused of having a “bad game.” The rest of the secondary played well, but not as good as their numbers would indicate – both Painter and Collins missed boat loads of open wide receivers. And what happened on that final Colt’s drive? Grade: C+

Special Teams
Antonio Brown came up with another hot punt return and you have to like his aggressiveness. However, Dan Sepulveda did not have a good night and Sean Suisham’s ability to make a couple of long kicks in helps compensate for missing one that could obviated his need to clinch the game winner. Grade: B-

Mike Tomlin tried to keep the Seahawks shut out in perspective, and one must supposed that he was “above the line.” Barely. As Tony Dungy said, the Colts matched up well with the Steelers, but the Steelers should have been pulling away when they started handing away turnovers in droves. Aside for lining a tight end or a sixth lineman up in the backfield to help with protection, what else can the coaches do about the line at this point other than hope that Sean Kugler can work miracles again. Grade: C+

Unsung Hero
Steelers running backs coach Kriby Wilson likened Mewelde Moore to an old suitcase that you keep because you’re familiar with it and because it’s dependable. Back in 2008 when arguing that Moore should start over Willie Parker, Steel Curtain Rising compared Moore to Merril Hoge. Moore might not quite have Hoge’s talent, but he does have his work ethic and knack for reliability which he prominently displayed in the game winning drive and for that Mewelde Moore is Steel Curtain Rising’s Unsung Hero.

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