The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a lot to happen Sunday for them to find a way to back into the playoffs.
That didn’t happen, but at least they accomplished the first part of the equation by taking care of the Cleveland Browns with a dominating 20-7 victory.
Ultimately the Steelers were nothing more than an 8-8 team again and .500 teams don’t deserve to make the playoffs, even in a weak AFC. But their 6-2 finish to the season should give this Steelers team something positive to head into next season.
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers graded out after a victory over what turned out to be a lifeless Browns team:
Quarterback: It wasn’t Ben Roethlisberger‘s best day in recent weeks as he threw two interceptions for the first time since Week 8, but Big Ben still played pretty well despite throwing for only 179 yards. He did complete 4 of 7 passes for 64 yards on the opening drive to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead and judging by how the game went, that’s all he really needed to do. At the end of the day he completed a respectable 19 of 31 passes but had a low QBR of 28.1 and a quarterback rating of only 61.1. Grade: C+
Running Backs: It was a nice day for rookie Le’Veon Bell, who set a team rookie record with 1,259 yards from scrimmage on the year. He had 90 yards rushing on 20 carries and found his way to the end zone. More importantly, it was the fourth time in the last five games that Bell averaged more than four yards per carry, which was an issue earlier in the season. Other than Bell though, no other backs did anything of impact and the position was quiet in the passing game. Grade: B+
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown capped off a great season with another positive week, in which he caught nine passes for 87 yards. Jerricho Cotchery caught his 10th scoring pass of the season before being hurt. Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller didn’t do much to impact the game, but on this afternoon, they didn’t have to do much to get a win. Grade: B
Offensive Line: The Steelers gained 120 yards on the ground, averaged 4.1 yards per carry and didn’t have a rush for negative yards on the afternoon. More importantly, Roethlisberger was sacked only one time. You have to give this line credit as they came together nicely. It took a while, as they deserved a lot of the blame for the Steelers 2-6 start, but they also deserve some credit for the 6-2 finish. Grade: A-