Steelers Report Card vs. the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium

From the grade book of a teacher who is pleased to see his star pupil has moved to the head of the class, here goes the Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for their victory over the Bengals. No other grades have been consulted.

Ben Roethlisberger
was flawless on the Steelers three touchdown drives, and his lone interception was decidedly not his fault. With that said, he had at least one other “should have been an interception” took too many sacks, and was not terribly effective on third down. Ben’s performance was “above the line” but the Steelers need more from him over the next six games. Grade: B

Running Backs
Look at the stat sheet. Rashard Mendenhall only ran for 44 yards with a seemingly pathetic 2.8 average. And Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore were only a little better. And stats can be misleading. Mendenhall punched in not one, but two touchdowns and both were examples of power rushing par excellence. Redman also ground out a key 11 yard carry on the go ahead touchdown drive. All three running backs blocked well. Grade: B

Wide Receivers
Hines Ward apparently has slipped to the 4th receiver position a bittersweet reality made palatable by the emergency of Antonio Brown. Antonio Brown’s development is taking on phenomenal proportions. This guy simply catches EVERYTHING. Mike Wallace again showed he’s now one-note Johnny. And, after 6-7 weeks of functioning as little more than a paper weight Jericho Cotchery is emerging as a weapon. Wesleye Saunders came through with a big play. Grade: A

Offensive Line
It seems like individual units are prone to let downs. After turning in its best performance of the season against the Ravens, if not perhaps several seasons, the offensive line slumped badly. Credit Cincinnati wearing down the line with their constant defensive line rotation because as the game wore on, the Steelers offensive line began to lose the battle at the line of scrimmage more consistently and the run and pass blocking suffered accordingly. Grade: C-

Defensive Line
Cincinnati might not have piled up a lot of yards, but they ran the ball effectively, particularly Bernard Scott. The Steelers likewise got little or no pressure on Andy Dalton. That’s not completely the fault of the defensive line, but the responsibility starts with them. Grade: C

James Harrison wasn’t much of a factor, although he was blatantly held for most of the day. Jason Worlids got a lot of time looking a lot more like the next Carlos Emmons than the next Woodley. James Farrior was back in action and looked OK. Lawrence Timmons defense a pass and came down with a difficult interception. Grade: B-

William Gay had a whale of a game with defensed passes, 5 tackles, and an interception. Ike Taylor, Keenan Lewis, Cotez Allen, and Curtis Brown all made plays. AJ Greens touchdown catch in double coverage vs. Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark was ugly, and the inability of either play to attempt a play drops the grade for this group. But Troy Polamalu was a force in run support registering two tackles for losses and limiting several others to short gains. Grade: B

Special Teams
On the plus side, both Justin Kapinos and Shaun Suisham kicked well. However, Antonio Brown was average in the return game and Cincinnati got some daylight on both its punt and kick returns. Last year at about mid-season the quality of the Steelers covrage units began to slip. Let’s hope this isn’t the beginning of a repeat performance. Grade: B-

Prepping your team to ride the roller coaster that is the NFL season is an under aperciated talent. The Steelers loss against the Ravens could have been brutally deflating, but Mike Tomlin kept that from happening. Likewise, as Zimmer’s defense began to wear down the Steelers offense, Bruce Arians made adjustments. They may not have scored a lot in the second half, but they burned up a lot of lock. Dick LeBeau can now notch another victory over a rookie quarterback on his belt. Grade: B

Unsung Hero
The only highlight reels that this player is going to get this week are for a botched play that allowed the Bengals to cut had been a 14-0 lead to 14-10. And while you never want to see such plays, Heath Miller more than made up for it with other plays. His 18 yard catch set up the Steelers second touchdown and then he paved the way for Mendenhall to make it into the end zone. He also made the key block on Mendehall’s go ahead touchdown, and for that Heath Miller is the Steelers Unsung Hero of the week.

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