Taken from the grade book of a teacher who just saw his struggling pupil make two ciritical errors that he could not afford, here is the Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for the Thanksgiving loss to Baltimore. As a caveat, no other Steelers grades have been consulted prior to this posting.
Any honest assessment of Ben Roethlisberger’s performance vs. the Ravens must take into account that many of his passes were either low or high. Four Ravens passes defensed shows just how close he was to being picked off multiple times. The Steelers were just above 50% on third down, when better was required. If those critiques of Roethlisberger are fair, fairness demands that the leadership Roethlisberger showed in lead the Steelers to 20 second half points and past two negated touchdowns. Grade: B
Le’Veon Bell was the lone Steelers running back to carry the ball vs. the Ravens. And he did his damage, breaking free on a 43 yard run that got the Steelers second half rally going. But Bell’s contributions were not limited to the ground, he also caught 7 passes for 63 yards including a 29 yarder. He also scored one touchdown and saw another taken away from him. Will Johnson had one pass thrown his way in the end zone which he could not hold on to. Grade B
Who said Heath Miller was limited by injury? Well the Report Card has made the comment several times in recent weeks. Heath answered his critics by catching 8 passes for 86 yards. But what those numbers do not tell is that each of those catches were critical. Heath was back to doing what Heath does – find ways to come down with the ball when and where the Steelers need him two. Grade: A
Emmanuel Sanders dropped at least four balls, including a 2 point conversion. Antonio Brown had what would be a very quiet night for him, although his 19 yard catch set up the Steelers second touchdown. Jerricho Cotchery simply caught touchdowns. This unit played well, but not quite well enough. Grade: C
David DeCastro’s block is what sprung Le’Veon Bell lose on his long one. Likewise the line’s blocking on Bell’s touchdown was strong. Overall run blocking could have been better, but this unit was under duress all night, seeing both Kelvin Beachum, Mike Adams, and Fernando Velasco removed due to injury. Grade: B
This unit came into the game sans Steve McLendon, and the nose tackle position was occupied by Al Woods and Ziggy Hood. Brett Keisel began the game but was unable to start. Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice were held under 40 yards. That process starts up front. Grade: B+
Lawrence Timmons was all over the field registering 8 tackles. Jarvis Jones had a quiet night with two tackles. Vince Williams did not play much, but did register a tackle. The real start of the game was Jason Worilds, who had two sacks 10 tackles and 3 quarterback hits. This unit deserves credit for the bend-but-don’t-break nature of the performance. Grade B+
Cortez Allen saw his most extensive playing time of the season, and led the unit in tackles, and defended a pass. Will Allen was next. William Gay’s name was not mentioned much, but he did make a key stop behind the line of scrimmage. Ike Taylor had 2 passes defensed, but was picked on successfully, all night, for the third straight week. Troy Polamalu played inside linebacker for most of the night and had two tackles. Ryan Clark had 5. Overall and “above the line” performance for the unit, but Ike Taylor’s performance brings it down. Grade: C-
The Steelers really got little more than an average return from their kick and punt returns. But all you need to know is that the Steelers had a botched field goal attempt paired with a 73 yard kickoff return that set up a Ravens field goal in a game decided by 2 points. Special teams snafus were costly. Grade: F
The Ravens offense worked with short fields for most of the night, and came away with 5 field goals and one touchdown. While a takeaway would have been nice, the Steelers defense did well and it is hard to fault Dick LeBeau’s game plan. The Steelers offense is another question entirely. It was completely ineffective in the first have, and did not begin moving the ball until it went to the no huddle. Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger may have a better working relationship, but Roethlisberger clearly has issue with the play calling, as evidenced by his timeout on the goal line.
Mike Tomlin deserves credit for getting his team ready to play on a short week what featured two road trips vs. division rivals. The determination displayed in the second half is to Tomlin’s credit. These boys fought. Fight, however, wasn’t enough. Grade: B-
Unsung Hero Award
Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 45 times vs. the Baltimore Ravens and was not sacked once. No, Steelers Nation, you have not read a misprint.
- Ben Roethlisberger dropped back to pass 45 times vs. the Baltimore Ravens and was not sacked once.
Granted, this is not the Raven’s defense of Suggs, Lewis, Scott, and Reed, but it Suggs and Ngata are fierce competitors. This unit lost 3 players, yet it kept it quarterback upright as Ben only registered 3 hits the entire game, and for that the offensive line wins the Unsung Hero Award for the Steelers loss to the Ravens.