Thursday night turned into a lost opportunity for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Not only did they lose a game they should have won, but the defense blew another lead, a trend that’s starting to become a bit disturbing to watch.
In addition to blowing a lead, some of the other problems that have plagued this team so far this season continued to show up, including the inability to run the football.
But as mentioned before, the Steelers suffered more than a defeat as they continued to lose countless amounts of players to injuries as running backs Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman suffered injuries, along with offensive linemen Marcus Gilbert and Maurkice Pouncey.
With that being said, it’s time to take a look at the weekly Steelers’ report card following Thursday night’s 26-23 defeat to the Tennessee Titans.
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger threw his first interception in 13 quarters (136 consecutive passes) and didn’t lead the team on a game winning drive, but otherwise was pretty solid, passing Terry Bradshaw as the franchise’s all-time leading passer. The offense seemed out of sync, a 363-yard performance continued Big Ben’s outstanding start to the season, but it wasn’t enough to win. Grade: B
Running Backs- Just one game after their best performance as a team on the ground, it was back to normal for the Steelers rushing attack. They gained only 11 yards on the ground in the first half and averaged only 2.5 yards per carry against the NFL’s 28th ranked rush defense. The only bright spot was Redman’s four catches for 105 yards. Grade: D-
Wide Receivers- The Steelers finally got the ball deep to Mike Wallace, but other than his 82-yard touchdown catch, he had only one other catch. Antonio Brown had only four catches for 20 yards and no one other than Redman stepped up as a weapon in the passing game. Grade: C-
Offensive Line- Losing Gilbert and Pouncey would help explain the limited rushing attack and the pressure on Roethlisberger throughout the game. Not the offensive lines finest day. Grade: D
Defensive Line- They allowed the struggling Chris Johnson to finish with decent numbers. While they allowed only three first downs on the ground, the Steelers had the opportunity to turn the Titans into a one dimensional team early on and failed to do so. Grade: D+
Linebackers- Lawrence Timmons stepped up and made a big pay when the Steelers needed one, but that was it. They allowed another back breaking 80-yard scoring drive and often had receiver running free underneath the coverage. In addition, James Harrison got toasted on the 25-yard catch-and-run that led to the game-winning field goal. Grade: D-
Secondary- Ike Taylor had a pair of pass interference calls and a crucial holding penalty. He’s being targeted and isn’t stepping up. The Steelers made it easy on Titans’ quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who threw for 290 yards and converted 9-of-16 first downs. In addition, the Titans completed six passes of 18 yards or more. Grade: F
Special Teams- Drew Butler’s blocked punt proved costly and while kicker Shaun Suisham has been great this year, ultimately his miss was the difference. Chris Rainey had a nice kick return, but overall the guys on special teams did not have a good night. Grade: D
Coaching- Tennessee had lost four games by 21 points or more and the Steelers gave an embarrassing effort overall. Todd Haley’s offense never got in rhythm against a team that had allowed the most points in the league and Dick LeBeau’s defense got shelled again, this time by a struggling team. Mike Tomlin’s decision to kick a 54-yard field goal ultimately came back to bite him. The short week is no excuse. Tennessee had a short week also and came to play. Grade: F