Coming into Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoffs hopes were slim. After their wild and crazy 34-28 loss to the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field, those postseason hopes have completely evaporated.
The Steelers trailed twice in the second half, only to come back both times to take the lead, but ultimately the defense gave up too many big plays again and the Black and Gold had to suffer yet another tough loss.
It’s almost fitting the Steelers lost by inches on the final play of the game because it seems they have been just a little bit off all season long.
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers graded out in my weekly report card.
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger had another big afternoon, completing 23 of 39 pass attempts for 349 yards and three touchdowns. He also finished with an impressive 114.2 quarterback rating. He committed his first turnover in three games when he lost a fumble on a strip sack that led to a Miami touchdown. But he rallied the Steelers from a 17-7 halftime deficit and overall turned in a good enough performance to win. Grade: B+
Running Backs: It has been 21 games now without a Steelers running back rushing for over 100 yards. Despite the strong start from rookie Le’Veon Bell, the coaching staff went away from him and the Steelers running backs rushed for only 76 yards on 20 carries on a cold and snowy day where they should have had more of an impact on the game. Bell rushed for 61 yards on 15 carries and caught five passes for 28 yards. However, he got only five second-half carries and left some plays on the field in the passing game. Grade: C
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown led all Steelers receivers with five catches for 137 yards, including a 43-yard catch-and-run touchdown. However his good day will be overshadowed by him stepping out of bounds at the Miami 12-yard line on the final lateral play. Emmanuel Sanders caught a touchdown, but also had another crucial drop, this time on third-and-10 with 2:33 remaining that forced the Steelers to go for it on fourth down. Jerricho Cotchery turned in another solid outing with five receptions for 62 yards and another touchdown. Grade: C
Offensive Line: Roethlisberger was sacked three times and hurried a bunch others, so the pass protection took a step backwards after three solid games. Despite not running as much as they should have the Steelers did average four yards per carry, but did not have a run longer than nine yards. Grade: C