Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for Win Over the Jets

Quarterback 

Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 8.08 yards per attempt and had a quarterback rating of 124.4, according to ESPN.com. Roethlisberger’s numbers may have been even more impressive (or at least more efficient) had young receiver Sammie Coates held on to a few more of his passes. Grade: A

Running Back 

The Jets entered Sunday’s game second in the league against the run. Fact is, the sledding was pretty tough for Le’Veon Bell, who carried 20 times for just 66 yards and averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. But where New York’s defense didn’t have an answer for the star running back was when he was catching passes out of the backfield. Bell may have only gained 66 yards on the ground, but he complemented those by adding another 88 through the air on nine catches. As for veteran DeAngelo Williams, to say his day was uneventful would be an understatement; Williams carried just one time for zero yards. Grade: B

Wide Receivers

Sammie Coates had the game of his life (six catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns–the first two of his professional career). But he also dropped three passes and possibly two others, depending on who you talk to. As for superstar Antonio Brown, it wasn’t the kind of day that’s going to lead to him being named AFC Player of the Week, but he did reel in nine passes for 78 yards and one touchdown. Fourth-year man Markus Wheaton hasn’t found his stride since returning to the lineup after sitting out early in the season with a shoulder injury and had just two catches for 19 yards. Grade: B-

Tight Ends

Much like they had been doing all season, Jesse James and Xavier Grimble got the most out of the passes thrown their way on Sunday. In the case of James, he caught six passes for 43 yards and a touchdown late in the first half. Grimble only had two catches, but one of them went for 11 yards. Grade: B-

Offensive Line

For the second week in a row, the Steelers were down a starter on the offensive line (in-fact, they were down a starter and his backup–both right tackle Marcus Gilbert and swing tackle Ryan Harris missed the Jets game with injuries), but much like a week earlier when B.J. Finney excelled in place of Ramon Foster at left guard, Chris Hubbard stepped up in a big way at right tackle, and the line didn’t miss a beat. Sure, running the ball was tough, but the Jets were weakened in the secondary, and Roethlisberger was allowed to exploit that, as he enjoyed all the time in the world. He was only sacked one time in 47 drop-backs and was barely even harassed by the Jets’ potent defensive front. Grade: A-

Defensive Line

Defensive end Cameron Heyward left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury and never returned, but rookie Javon Hargrave filled in and performed admirably. While Bell and Co. had a hard time running against the Jets defense, Matt Forte and  Co. didn’t have it much better trying to do the same against Pittsburgh’s defense. New York rushed for just 71 yards on the day. Grade: B

Linebackers

For the second week in a row, Vince Williams filled in for Ryan Shazier at inside linebacker, and for the second week in a row, Williams led the team in tackles–this time with nine (eight solo). Williams also had two quarterback hits and a sack. Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones played one of his better games as a Steeler, recording three tackles, one pass defensed and two hits on the quarterback. Anthony Chickillo registered the first sack of his career, while Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats had a half a sack each. Grade: B+

Secondary

Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25 of 38 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown. However, all but 92 of those yards came in the first half, as Pittsburgh’s pass-defense clamped down in a big way over the final two periods. Cornerback Ross Cockrell had a tough assignment trying to cover receiver Brandon Marshall all afternoon. Marshall had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown in the first half, but was limited to 28 yards on two catches over the final two quarters, as Cockrell played much better down-the-stretch. Safety Mike Mitchell had another active game, totaling seven tackles (five solo), while Sean Davis had six tackles (four solo) and a pass defensed. Also, for the second week in a row, Jordan Dangerfield performed well enough at strong safety that nobody seemed to notice him. Grade: B-

Special Teams

There was the matter of that fake field goal Jordan Berry unsuccessfully executed in the first half (he was tackled well short of the sticks), but other than that, the special teams had another decent day. Speaking of Berry, he punted just three times but averaged 46.3 yards per boot and downed all three inside the 20, as New York recorded no return yards on punts.

The now frighteningly automatic Chris Boswell was dead-center on his lone field goal attempt from 47 yards away, as well as on his four extra points.

As for the return game, Antonio Brown returned two punts for 51 yards–including one for 33 yards early in the second half. Grade: B+

Coaching

After a near-flawless performance against the Chiefs a week earlier, it may have been easy for the Steelers to have a letdown against a 1-3 Jets team. However, other than a stretch in the second quarter, when New York scored 10-straight points to take a short-lived six-point lead, one never got the sense the Steelers were ever in any danger of losing. Kudos to head coach Mike Tomlin for dealing with massive injuries for the second week in a row–Eli Rogers, Marcus Gilbert, Ryan Harris, Ryan Shazier and Robert Golden were all ruled out of the game–yet having his team (especially his backups) prepared to play.

For the second-straight week, Todd Haley had to game-plan against a defense with a weakened secondary, and for the second-straight week, he exploited that weakness in a big way.

It looked like it would be a long day for Keith Butler’s defense through two quarters, but after allowing 219 yards in the first half, Pittsburgh yielded just 97 in the second. Grade: A

Unsung Hero

They say the only way anyone usually notices an offensive lineman is when he screws up. If that’s the case, Chris Hubbard (normally third-string on the depth chart) did a great job on Sunday filling in at right tackle for Marcus Gilbert and backup Ryan Harris.

 

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