The Pittsburgh Steelers got to 8-8 on the season by winning a meaningless season finale against the Cleveland Browns.
The 24-10 victory came with backups and in most cases third-and-fourth stringers littering the field for both teams.
But a win is a win, which leads me to my final Steelers report card of a disappointing 2012 season.
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger was without his top two receivers in Heath Miller and Mike Wallace, but the Browns were without three starters in the secondary (that will be the theme of this report card). But despite a slow start, Roethlisberger was his usual efficient self and threw three touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 120.3. The only real negative was that the Steelers weren’t very good on third down, converting only five opportunities all game. Grade: B
Running Backs: Jonathan Dwyer gained 52 yards on only 11 carries and averaged 4.7 yards per carry, something he hasn’t done since the Redskins game. Both Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall chipped in nice runs occasionally, but the team averaged only 3.3 yards per carry. But the four running backs averaged 4.1. However while there still wasn’t any consistency to the rushing attack, it was better. Grade: C+
Wide Receivers: The passing attack suffered without Miller and Wallace as the Steelers threw for a season low 134 yards. No one had more than two catches and the longest completion was for only 16 yards to Emmanuel Sanders. Grade: C
Offensive Line: It wouldn’t be a Steelers game if more offensive linemen didn’t get hurt and that’s exactly what happened to rookies David DeCastro and Kelvin Beachum. It’s hard to turn out consistent production with the constant juggling of lineups. That being said the Steelers averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and still couldn’t convert on third-and-short. It was an average performance to say the least. Grade: C
Defensive Line: The Browns averaged 5.3 yards per carry and gained 138 yards on the ground. The loss of Brett Keisel didn’t help matters much. Grade: D
Linebackers: Lawrence Timmons continued to play well; recording a pair of late sacks and forcing a fumble and James Harrison played his best game of the season making 11 tackles with a sack. But while the Steelers’ defense forced a season-high four turnovers, they did allow a Browns’ offense guided by third-string quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to gain 320 yards and move the chains 18 times. Grade: C
Secondary: Kennan Lewis was lost in the first quarter, which allowed some of the early success Lewis had. Troy Polamalu had a pick and Cortex Allen forced two fumbles which led to two Steelers’ touchdowns. Where was that all season? Grade: B
Special Teams: No excuse to be burned by the fake punt. This late in the season, chalk that one up to being unprepared. The return units didn’t do much and the kicking game was inconsistent. Grade: C-
Coaching: The Steelers came out to win a meaningless game. Too bad they didn’t come out that way in some that mattered. The offense wasn’t great but they didn’t turn the ball over and the defense did something we have been waiting 17 weeks for- make big plays. It was too little too late in the big picture, but for this game, they reminded you of a good football team. Grade: B