Pittsburgh Steelers: Grading The Bengals Loss


A must win turned into a tragic loss for the Pittsburgh Steelers in week eight falling further behind the front-running Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 16-10. A loss in the standings and a tragic loss on the roster as Le’Veon Bell is finished for 2015 with a knee injury.

Last Sunday marked the return of Ben Roethlisberger and it was hardly triumphant. Not just as a game that the Steelers lost, but in Big Ben’s performance as well that only had a few shining moments overshadowed by two interceptions.

On a high note, the defense played very well but it was not enough to allow the offense to reverse the final decision. The bottom line is that the Steelers now must finish the season without their star running back, perhaps the best in the NFL and try to reach the post-season without their Bell-ringer along with more than a handful of other key players who are on injured reserve.

This season has been plagued with major injuries for the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger forced to sit out a month and now Le’Veon Bell derailed for the remainder of the season. Just take a peek at who’s not on the sidelines for the rest of the 2015 season:

  • Cortez Allen
  • Kelvin Beachum
  • Le’Veon Bell
  • Senquez Golson
  • Bruce Gradkowski
  • Shaun Suisham
  • Jordan Zumwalt

Mike Tomlin and his Steelers have always held the belief that when one man goes down, it’s the job of another to step up. DeAngelo Williams now gets his second call of the season to fill the shoes of Le’Veon Bell and if the first two games of the season are any indication, the Steelers might just be able to create enough offense to win a good amount of the remaining games.

Quarterback: Steelers fans everywhere wanted Big Ben behind center again. No one wanted to see him throw two picks and not play in his typical fashion. Like a true sport, he shouldered the blame. But that doesn’t help his grade. D.

Running Backs: Bell was on his way to a solid game before the injury, Williams filled in nicely again. For a replacement on the roster, the Steelers signed Isaiah Pead. The question here is…wasn’t there a better option out there in the free agency market? This guy has been with the St. Louis Rams since 2012 and has toted the rock just 19 times. His per-carry average is a nice 4.1, but still…just saying. What message does this also send to Dri Archer. Obviously, whey don’t think he’s even worthy song being a backup to DeAngelo Williams. It’s quite clear that the Dri Archer experiment is over. C+.

Wide Receivers: Roethlisberger returns and his main man Antonio Brown can’t get over 50 yards receiving. That will never bode well as to how the game is turning in the Steelers’ favor. The passing game was just not hitting its mark last Sunday and the receiving group suffered because of it. C-.

Tight Ends: Huge day for Heath Miller. It should be this way every game. A+.

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Offensive line: Not their best game of the season and some penalties were unnecessary. C.

Kicker: Still without a missed field goal, the belief here gets stronger that the younger and thus far very successful Chris Boswell will not only challenge Shaun Suisham next summer in training camp, but could very well steal his job.

Defensive Line: The absence of Stephon Tuitt could have been a minor factor, but Cam Heyward continues to play at a strong consistent level. The line did a good job against the Bengals, they were just asked to do too much because of the ineptness of the offense. B-.

Linebackers: They played fast, aggressive, tackled well, and old man James Harrison continues to roll. A-.

Safeties: Mike Mitchell was the star of this unit for the day. Will Allen remained out but Robert Golden still held his own. A-.

Cornerbacks: Some fans may believe Ross Cockrell and Antwon Blake did not play as well as they should to go hand-in-hand with William Gay on the other side, but keep in mind, across the line of scrimmage were some pretty good receivers. B-.

Punter: Jordan Berry’s average was well below what he has put up in 2015, but called up on six times makes it more difficult to have a boomer every time. Half of his efforts were downed or play ended inside the 20. His long of the day was 46. Still, you have to keep loving that hang time.

Next: Steelers: Game Eight Wrap-Up Vs. Bengals

Coaching: Last week there were some question marks surrounding the  coaching of Mike Tomlin in the loss to Kansas City. This week it was the lack of execution and mistakes on offense that were the culprits in losing. Nothing Tomlin or his staff did had much impact on the outcome. Still, it was Tomlin’s decision to bring back Roethlisberger instead of giving him more time to heal. C+.

Overall grade: An opportunity to cut into the lead of first place Cincinnati goes by the wayside. The defense showed up, the quarterback not quite so. C-.