It took 15 weeks of the NFL season, but the Pittsburgh Steelers finally put together a complete effort in Sunday night’s 30-20 victory over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals.
That was the case for the first half at least as the Steelers resembled a dominant team that forced mistakes and took advantage of them when they happened.
While in the grand scheme of things their performance may have been a case of “too little, too late,” it was nice to see the Steelers not just lay down and roll over on the prime-time stage.
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers graded out on Sunday Night Football:
Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger got off to a very hot start and played well once again. He completed 20 of 25 passess for 191 yards and a touchdown. He did throw an interception but finished the night with a solid QBR of 90.1 and a quarterback rating of 95.2. Grade: A-
Running Backs: While the Steelers rushed for only 106 yards on 36 carries as a team and averaged only 2,9 yards per carry, I liked what I saw from Le’Veon Bell at times, although most of his positives came in the passing game with five receptions for 50 yards. Bell averaged only 2.4 yards per carry on the night, gaining 57 on 24 carries. However, both Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones did some nice things carrying the football as the duo came off the bench to combine for 48 yards on 11 carries. Grade: C+
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown led the way with five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders also had five receptions, including a nice spin move to convert a big third-and-7 in the fourth that allowed the Steelers to run more clock. While it was a solid day for the playmakers, there weren’t many big plays to be found, but with a big early lead the Steelers didn’t need many. Grade: C+
Offensive Line: The Steelers offensive line performed as well as it has all season in the first half when they showed great inside push while the backs rushed for 63 yards on 18 carries against a defense that ranked fifth in the league against the run. They also allowed Roethlisberger to get sacked only once against a defense with a solid pass rush. They weren’t nearly as dominant on the ground, as gaining only 2.9 yards per carry for the game is a black mark on how well they played early on. Grade: B