This took almost a half day to comprehend, but after another ugly loss to the Oakland Raiders, this time a 21-18 defeat to drop the Pittsburgh Steelers to 2-5 on the season, I’m back with my weekly Steelers report card. Just later in the day than usual.
The Steelers fell in a hole from the first play of the game on thanks to a 93-yard touchdown run from Raiders’ quarterback Terrelle Pryor and thanks to a ton of gaffes along the way, never recovered.
A late rally made it close, but if an 0-4 start to the season didn’t already stick the fork in them, this loss certainly did.
If you’re still talking playoffs, keep in mind that the Steelers still have to go 6-3 down the stretch just to finish .500 on the season.
There wasn’t much to like about Sunday’s performance, but let’s take a closer look at how bad it was as I hand out individual grades to each position.
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger completed 7 of 9 passes for 85 yards on the 12-play touchdown drive that got the Steelers back into the game and completed 25 of 49 pass attempts for 275 yards on the afternoon. However, the Steelers’ offense struggled to move the ball consistently for three quarters and can’t get the ball into the end zone. Keep in mind they scored only one touchdown during their past two wins and couldn’t get into the end zone against the Raiders until the fourth quarter.
Roethlisberger threw two picks. One was him trying to get the ball downfield. I don’t mind him taking a shot there. The other was a play Antonio Brown has to make, so I don’t really hold the interceptions on his shoulders. The offense didn’t do much until Big Ben was able to go to the hurry up, which was far too late for my liking. However the clock management was suspect, including burning a timeout with the clock already stopped late in the game. Grade: C+
Running Backs: The big week the Steelers had running the football against the Baltimore Ravens turned out to be just a mirage as they were back to their old tricks on Sunday. The Steelers managed to gain only 35 yards on 19 carries and Le’Veon Bell averaged 1.8 yards per carry, gaining only 24 yards on 13 carries although he and Felix Jones combined to catch seven passes. Grade: F
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 16 receptions, but the big plays weren’t there. Brown had a big drop late in the fourth quarter which would have led to a first down and on the ensuing drive dropped a third down throw which ended up being intercepted. Throw in a Heath Miller dropped touchdown and it wasn’t a great day for the receiving core. Grade: C
Offensive Line: Another week and more injuries to the offensive line. This week it was David DeCastro, Ramon Foster and backup Guy Whimper who all suffered injuries. It’s hard to gain chemistry as a unit with so much re-shuffling, but the bottom line is that no matter who is in there they have to play better. Roethlisberger was pressured a ton and sacked five times and the Steelers averaged only 1.8 yards per carry. Grade: F