Sunday was a must-win situation for the Pittsburgh Steelers if they wanted any hope of hanging on to their slim playoff chances. Instead of playing with must-win intensity, the Steelers were embarrassed by the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium, dropping to 2-6 on the season with a 55-31 loss.
Sadly the Steelers had momentum and tied the game at 24 in the third quarter, but the Pats scored on five consecutive drives in the second half, putting up 31 of the game’s final 38 points.
At the end of the day, the double nickel the Pats scored turned out to be the most points the Steelers allowed in franchise history. They also allowed a franchise record 611 yards of total offense.
There wasn’t much to be happy about on Sunday, but let’s take a look at how each position graded out after this embarrassing loss.
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger bounced back very nicely from two early turnovers to have a pretty nice game, throwing for 400 yards and four touchdowns. He did turn it over three times, although all three turnovers came as a result of New England pressure. However, when your defense can’t keep up with Tom Brady and the New England offense, you can’t afford any mistakes. Overall, it was a productive day for Big Ben. Grade: B
Running Backs: Against the next-to-last run defense in the NFL, the Steelers rushed for 108 yards on 20 carries and a nice 5.4 yards-per-carry average. But half of that came on two plays, a 30-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer and a 25-yard scamper from Le’Veon Bell. The rookie did put together a decent day, with 74 yards rushing and 65 yards receiving on four catches, but struggled at times in pass protection. Grade: C
Wide Receivers: Jerricho Cotchery had a big day with seven receptions for 96 yards and three scores. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 11 catches for 169 yards and a nice 27-yard touchdown catch from Brown. Heath Miller had a quiet afternoon and there was some confusion among the receivers when it came to route running a couple of times, especially on Roethlisberger’s final interception when two guys were in the same spot. Overall though the Steelers top three receivers were productive. Grade: B
Offensive Line: On the road and without their best lineman in David DeCastro, it wasn’t a terrible day for the offensive line. It wasn’t a good day, but they have been worse. Roethlisberger was under a lot of pressure again and was sacked five times, but a couple of those were coverage sacks. They did gain 479 yards of total offense and averaged over five yards per carry. That should be good enough to win. Grade: C