Taken from the grade book of a teacher who saw his star pupil soar on three straight tests, only to fail miserably on what should have been a “gimmie” here is the Steelers Report Card for the loss to the Jets.
This was not Ben Roethlisberger at his best. Roethlisberger was threw two interceptions and failed to move the team meaningfully during the game. His passing numbers were not bad, but Ben was again out of synch with his receivers at times and even ended up losing a snap late in the game. Grade: D
Le’Veon Bell only rushed for 33 yards, although he did gain some tough yards. His biggest contribution came in in the passing game when he made lemonade out of lemons on a few occasions. LeGarrette Blount was ineffective, and cost the team dearly on the goal line. Grade: C-
Heath Miller had 3 catches for 29 yards and Matt Spaeth did well blocking, but overall the tight ends failed to be a factor for the Steelers vs. the Jets. Grade: C
Martavis Bryant led the group and had what could have been a game breaker for the Steelers late in the game. Still, he was targeted 7 times and caught four, although that was not entirely his fault. Antonio Brown committed two fumbles, both of which cost the Steelers dearly. Markus Wheaton had 4 catches, although was out of position on the one interception. There were a number of instances where the Steelers wide outs were broke off routes too soon, and that hurt the team. Grade: D
Roethlisberger was only sacked twice, although Kelvin Bryant got beaten badly on one. Ben was hit often, which doesn’t reflect on poor line play as many hits were clearly after the ball was thrown. Still, this is the third game in a row where the Steelers failed to control the line of scrimmage in the running game, and while playing from behind might make that look academic, it’s a troubling trend. Grade: C-
The Steelers sacked Michael Vick 4 times, with the defensive line accounting for 3 of those. The Jets had 150 yards of rushing, but never controlled the tempo with their running game. The line didn’t put forward a dominating performance, but they did hit one that was better than the outcome indicated. Grade: B
James Harrison had a strong game and was in Michael Vick’s face all day. Jason Worilds had a sack and also got his licks in on Vick. Sean Spence continues to improve as does Vince Williams. As usual Lawrence Timmons led the group and was all over the field. Grade: B
William Gay let what could have been a game-changing interception slip through his fingers. Michael Mitchell made a bizarre attempt to disrupt a victory formation knee down which made the Steelers look desperate. Brice McCain made decent accounting of himself. Vick only passed for 132 yards and got half of them on one play. The Steelers secondary left some plays on the field, but did better than they are generally being given credit for. Grade: B-
Markus Wheaton returned 3 kicks for a decent average. Blount was average. But this was not a good day for the Steelers special teams as a penalty nullified an on sides kick recovery and the Steelers failed miserable at another attempt. The biggest issue however was missed field goal which should have been automatic, and that could have been a game changer. Shaun Suisham simply cannot miss kicks like that. Grade: F
Mike Tomlin talked a good game about avoiding a letdown, but the Steelers with 4 turnovers essentially gave the game away. While Tomlin did not throw those interceptions or cough up those balls, this is yet another trap game the Steelers have surrendered on his watch.
Dick LeBeau’s defense did a respectable job, although they failed to match any of the Jet’s turnovers.
Todd Haley should take some heat for the lack luster performance of his offense – some of the play calling appeared questionable – what was James Harrison doing in as a tight end and why was he thrown the ball, but Haley isn’t responsible for those four turnovers. Grade: D
Unsung Hero Award
The Steelers gave away the ball four times yet were still in the game until the very end. One of the reasons for that was the focused play of an number of individuals, but one of those stuck out, and that was Cameron Heyward, who had a sack, two hits of Michael Vick, and a tackle for a loss and should have had a fumble recovery on a play in which he kept hustling long after everyone else had stopped, and for that he gets the Unsung Hero Award for the loss to the Jets.