From the Grade Books of a teacher who has been reminding his students that in the NFL you don’t get graded on improvement or effort but solely on results. Thus comes the Steelers report card for their second loss of the year to Baltimore. As always, no other Steelers reports cards have been consulted.
Ben Roethlisberger was spectacular on the Steelers two touchdown drives, his final TD pass being a play that few other NFL quarterbacks can make. As good as that was, the Steelers needed more from Roethlisberger, especially in the first half. The Steelers were a respectable 7-12 on third down conversions but respectable wasn’t enough. Ben’s interception likely cost the team at least three points and facilitated to a 10 point swing, and the miscommunication between him and Mewelde Moore put Baltimore back in the game. Grade: D
Statistically Rashard Mendenhall had the best day that a Steelers back has had against the Ravens in a long, long time. The fact that he didn’t get more carries isn’t his fault. However, Isaac Redman didn’t do much with his carries, and as mentioned the Moore-Roethlisberger miscommunication was costly, which does drop the grade for this group. Grade: B-
The wideouts have had better days, and Antonio Brown’s pass catching ability is approaching scary. Mike Wallace made a great play in the end zone. Health Miller was Mr. Reliable as ever. Jerricho Cotchery looked good in his first extended action of the year. David Johnson had one good catch, then dropped at a most inopportune time. Grade: B
Was this the same unit that provided little more resistance than road kill during the Debacle in Baltimore in week one? It sure did not look like the same until as Ben Roethlisberger had ample time and the running game even had decent holes for most of the night. A little in the way of “road grading” would have been helpful on the Steelers final possession, but that does little to tarnish a fine offensive line performance. Grade: A-
Who said Ray Rice could run on the Steelers at will? The Steelers defensive line contained the Ravens rushing attack and again, looked like a compeletely different unit than the one who appeared in week one. One knock against them is that with so many injuries to the line backing corps, more pressure from the line would ahve been useful. Grade: B
James Harrison wasted little time in establishing himself as a disruptive force. Larry Foote also looked good for another week, although he missed a chance to end the Raven’s winning TD drive. Jason Worilds, Lawrence Timmons, and Stevenson Sylvester however were invisible on a night when just a little more pressure on Flacco might have made the difference in crucial passing situations. Grade: B
Was this the same until that just one week ago not only forced Tom Brady, Wes Welker, and Deon Branch to genuflect at the statue of Art Rooney Sr. but made them like it? Certainly could have fooled me.
The Steelers corners looked clueless and committed drive sustaining penalties on two of the Raven’s three touchdown drives. Ryan Clark had another personal foul penalty. Troy Polamalu stopped Ravens rushers in their tracks any number of times, although perhaps using him deep would have been wiser. One week after looking all-world, the Steelers secondary appeared to be every bit of a liability that many feared they would be during the off season Grade: F
We can absolve this unit of blame for the delay of game penalty. Suisham made his two field goal attempts although the second did not lend a lot of confidence in his ability to make a third. Justin Kapinos punting was mediocre. The Ravens did OK in kick return yardage. Grade: B-
Hats off to Sean Kugler for coaching his unit to a 180 degree turnaround from week one. Similarly, Dick LeBeau, Johnny Mitchell and Keith Butler’s plan to neutralize Ray Rice worked. But the secondary played similar schemes to what they had played vs. New England and was awful. Likewise, save for the fourth quarter, the offense was ineffective in a game where even a field goal would have made a difference.
When the Steelers found themselves at 4th and 5 Mike Tomlin committed the ultimate sin a coach can commit in those cirumstances – he vacilated. The Ravens came ready to play and kept their composure for 60 minutes. The Steelers did not. That’s on the coaches. Grade: F
When a “skill” player plays well, everyone knows about it. Then there are those whose best work often goes unnoticed. The Ravens swept the Steelers twice this year for the first time since 2006. But they did it in spite of the fact that the second time around Steelers offensive line had its best performance of the year, and that’s why that unit is the Unsung Hero for the Ravens game.