The Pittsburgh Steelers enter their upcoming bye week sitting at a disappointing 1-2, after not being able to close out the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, as their defense allowed scores on their final five possessions.
It’s becoming a theme for the Steelers defense that can’t seem to make big plays, playing without both James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. While that hurts some, it’s hard to imagine this defense being that much better with both in the lineup.
Despite the loss, there were some good things on Sunday, although not many.
With that being said, here’s a look at my weekly position grades after Week 3.
Quarterback: Another outstanding performance from Ben Roethlisberger, who went 36-of-49 for 384 yards, four scores and no picks. You can’t waste performances like that from Big Ben. Through three weeks, Roethlisberger has played as well as maybe he ever has. Grade: A-
Running Back: Same old story with the Steelers backfield. The Steelers backs rushed for only 54 yards and averaged only 2.7 yards per carry against a team that had allowed a total of 298 yards on the ground in two weeks. Isaac Redman’s longest run was six yards and Jonathan Dwyer had a crucial fumble. How long until the Steelers scrap the ground game altogether? Grade: F
Wide Receivers: For the second consecutive week, 10 different Steelers caught at least one pass. Heath Miller, Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace all had big games, but Brown and Wallace combined for three fumbles, with Brown losing a very costly one. Grade: B-
Offensive Line: Despite Maurkice Pouncey’s claim on Twitter that he played pretty well, that wasn’t exactly the case. The line did give Roethlisberger sufficient time, not allowing a sack until the final drive, but the Steelers longest run of the day was only eight yards and that’s not good enough. Grade: C
Defensive Line: The Steelers aren’t used to getting pressure from their front three, but these guys aren’t generating any push at all. Darren McFadden became the latest back to gouge the Steelers for over 100 yards and Brett Keisel’s neutral zone penalty on fourth down was awful and ending up costing the Steelers seven points. Grade: D-
Linebackers: There’s no pressure coming from the edges and Carson Palmer exploited every single one of the Steelers blitzes with short passes, especially on the game-winning drive. They got outsmarted by a good quarterback once again. Grade: D-
Secondary: Palmer completed 18-of-24 passes in the second half, converting seven of eight third downs. Ryan Mundy was pretty lousy, getting abused on McFadden’s touchdown run and getting beat on Darius Heyward-Bay’s touchdown catch. Ryan Clark got a gift of an interception early on, which turned out to be the only play the secondary made on the afternoon. Grade: D
Special Teams: Shaun Suisham was the only bright spot of the day as the rest of the specialists struggled, including Drew Butler, who had punts of 35 and 29 yards. The coverage teams allowed kickoff returns of 37 and 51 yards and had a punt return by Antonio Brown that went for a touchdown called back because of a penalty: Grade: D-
Coaching: Poor performances on every unit except the passing game and even then, the receivers fumbled three times. Mike Tomlin made a risky call going for it on fourth down deep in his own territory, which is a stupid move that luckily paid off. All that says is he has no faith in his defense. Grade: D+