Steelers Report Card for Win Over Arizona Cardinals

Taken from the grade book of a teacher who is pleased to see his students taking the “Next Man Up” philosophy to heart, here is the Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for the win over the Cardinals.

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After coming alive in the 4th quarter vs. the Chargers, Michael Vick performance was again anemic for the first half vs. the Cardinals. He threw at least one should have been pick six, and was averaging 0.8 yards per pass when he injured his hamstring. When no one is ready to say Landry Jones “made everyone forget about Ben Roethlisberger” he did provide the Steelers offense with the spark they needed going 8-12 for two touchdowns. Jones performance was excellent, but Vick’s struggles bring the grade down. Grade: B-

Running Backs
Its clear that the Steelers offense cannot survive on a diet of Le’Veon Bell alone, although Bell ripped off some excellent runs at times when the Cardinals KNEW what was coming. DeAngelo Williams had one carry for a loss. Roosevelt Nix continued to work as a fullback, and to great effect. Grade: B

Tight Ends
Heath Miller only caught one pass, but it was his only target. Will Johnson along with Matt Spaeth were used in the blocking game. Grade: B

Wide Receivers
Antonio Brown is clearly a gifted wide receiver, you don’t establish the kind of track record he has without talent. But he’s not been the same wide receiver without Roethlsiberger. The start of the game was of course Martavis Bryant, who made an excellent touchdown catch in traffic at the goal line, and then sealed victory by converting a would-be game winning 1st down into an amazing 88 yard touchdown play. Markus Wheaton had 1 catch for 8 yards. Grade: B+

Offensive Line
Losing your left tackle is normally an ominous sign for any NFL team, but when Kelvin Beachum went down, Alejandro Villanueva came in and the Steelers offense didn’t miss a beat. The Steelers offensive line did well enough in the running game and kept both of its quarterbacks upright. Grade: B

Defensive Line
It is a shame that Cameron Heyward’s getting so much attention for honoring his father Craigh Heyward, because he continues to pay excellent football, even if his stat sheet looks mundane. Hewyard is playing at an All Pro level, and is clearly a disruptive force. Stephon Tuitt left the game with an ankle injury. Steve McClendon only made one tackle, but the Cardinals average 2.8 yards a carry. That doesn’t happen if McLendon isn’t doing his job. Grade: B+

Linebackers
Lawrence Timmons lead the group and continues to play at an All Pro level, making a Troy Polamlauesque interception which showed both great presence of mind and concentration on his part. Vince Williams and Sean Spence had 4 tackles followed him in the tackle count. Aurthur Moats had a key tackle behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd and 2 to force a field goal. James Harrison’s sack on third down helped force a punt, preventing the Cardinals from answering the Steelers go-ahead touchdown. Grade: B+

Secondary
IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. Michael Mitchell came up with a key interception which snuffed out nearly any chance of a Cardinals comeback, and make Carlson Palmer look like a rookie in the process. Robert Golden got his first start, and didn’t do anything to attract attention to himself, which can be good for a safety.

ON the flip side, Antwon Blake continues to miss tackles, and Ross Cockrell’s physical play helped sustain a Cardinal’s scoring driven and quite frankly he got away with several other plays he should have been flagged for. Grade: B-

Special Teams
Danny Smith’s special teams continued to commit some costly penalties, but and while the Cardinals returns weren’t damaging, they were better than one would like to see. Brown had one good punt return, and Dri Archer had a 35 yard kick return and overall a decent average. Jordan Berry boomed off a 79 yard (OK, he got a REALLY good bounce) although his kicks were erratic. Overall and above the line day for the Steelers special teams. Grade: B

Coaching
Todd Haley’s choice of play calling with his two quarterback spoke volumes of how he sees his offense, and one has to wonder if the rumblings of Landry Jones seeing action didn’t come from him. Either way, his offense has protected the ball, and executed with Landry Jones under center.

Keith Butler is making a lot of Fantasy Football owners happy, but his defense continues to deliver when it counts by making critical third down stops, securing turnovers, pressuring the quarterback, and playing its best football when defending its own Red Zone.

Since the day he was hired, Mike Tomlin has preached “The Standard is the Standard.” It is easy to say the words, but clearly he’s instilled the mentality into his football team, and they have responded. Grade: A

Unsung Hero Award
The Steelers beat the Cardinals by a score of 25 to 13, yet only scored two touchdowns. The rest of the scoring came from a man who was unemployed just 15 days ago. Chris Boswell not only went 4-4 on field goal attempts, he made field goals of 47, 48, and 51 yards at Heinz Field, the NFL’s most difficult stadium to kick in. And he made it look easy. A miss on any one of those could have dramatically altered the dynamic of the game. But he made all of his tries, and for that Chris Boswell wins the unsung hero award for the Steelers victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

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