Maybe the bye week came at the perfect time for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sunday against the New York Jets, the Steelers turned in their best performance of the season and came away with their first win of the 2013 season.
The formula was simple. The Steelers forced their first two turnovers of the season and didn’t turn the ball over for the first time on the year. The Steelers defense made it tough on Jets’ rookie quarterback Geno Smith as Dick LeBeau improved to 16-2 all-time as Steelers’ defensive coordinator when facing a rookie quarterback.
There were plenty of bright spots, let’s take a look at how they graded out.
Quarterback: Looking for a major reason the Steelers notched their first win of the season? Look no further than Ben Roethlisberger, who was outstanding on Sunday. After taking another beating through the first quarter and a half, Big Ben caught fire and had a very good day throwing the football, completing 23-of-30 passes for 264 yards and a big 55-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders to start the second half. He was near perfect, other than a dropped Antonio Brown touchdown, through a long stretch of the second and third quarters. Ben made smart decisions with the ball and even made a few plays with his legs, including a 10-yard scramble on third-and-10 at the Jets 12 produced a first down. Even more important, Roethlisberger didn’t turn the football over on the afternoon. Grade: A
Running Backs: The Steelers tried, but once again the running game could not get going. The Jets front seven had a lot to do with that but the running backs have to average more than 2.58 yards per carry. Rookie Le’Veon Bell was limited to only 24 yards on 16 carries. But on the bright side, the Steelers backs gained 61 of their 73 yards on the ground in the second half when they had a lead and they caught a combined six passes out of the backfield. It wasn’t their worst day as the Jets came in with the No. 2 ranked rush defense, but there is still a ton of room for improvement. Grade: C-
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown is putting together a heck of a season and caught nine more balls on Sunday. Sanders finally made a big play and tight end Heath Miller had a productive afternoon, hauling in six passes for 84 yards. Overall a very nice day for the pass catchers. Grade: A
Offensive Line: Newly acquired Levi Brown got hurt before the game started and Kelvin Beachum put on his best Mike Adams impersonation, but the line seemed to settle down after a very rocky first quarter. Beachum looked shaky, getting beat for a near safety and taking two big holding calls, but other than that it wasn’t your typical awful performance from the front five. They allowed three sacks and couldn’t get any push when running the ball, but against a good and aggressive defense, they had a decent day. Grade: C