Pittsburgh Steelers: Week Nine Gradeout Against Raiders


Back in St. Louis when the Steelers played the Rams, down went Ben Roethlisberger with a knee injury, forcing him out for four weeks. Move ahead to last Sunday, this time the Raiders are the opposing team and BAM…down goes Big Ben again. This time his ankle got jacked up to push him aside for another two to three weeks. With Landry Jones filling in again, the Steelers managed to hold on for a 38-35 victory over Oakland.

Roethlisberger is certainly having a rough year and Pittsburgh has suffered because of his absence, other players out with injuries, and some poor play. End result to date is a 5-4 record, but the Steelers still find themselves right in the midst of the wild card race. A division title is probably out of reach with the Bengals at 8-0, but aside from unbeaten Cincinnati and New England and the 7-1 Denver Broncos, the two wild card spots are completely up for grabs in the AFC.

Pittsburgh’s defense had been playing very well prior to the matchup with Oakland and had faced some pretty potent offenses from opening day until week nine arrived. Surrendering 35 points may have come as a surprise to some, but the Raiders’ offense has been peforming at a high level all season. With that said, this week’s report card is in.

Quarterback: Despite an interception, Ben Roethlisberger was having a huge day before getting reinjured. 334 yards passing and connecting with Antonio Brown like hitting the side of a barn. Unfortunately, the injury happened and a collective sigh could be heard at Heinz Field.

But Landry Jones has proven he can hold the offense above water and finished with four of six attempts completed for 79 yards. The big bomb at the end to Brown proved to be the game winning play getting Chris Boswell into field goal position. A.

Running back: No Le’Veon Bell didn’t frighten or intimidate DeAngelo Williams. All he did was rush for 170 yards at a clip of 6.3 per. He reached the end zone twice and brought in two receptions to boot. Antonio Brown even ran the ball out of the backfield twice for 22 yards. A+.

Wide Receivers: It was Antonio Brown day and a little of everyone else. With a Steelers record 17 receptions, Brown caught his way up the ladder in league leaders. Now the NFL leader in yards, Brown simply was unstoppable. A+.

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Tight Ends: Hello Jesse James! Pittsburgh’s same named wild west legend caught his first NFL touchdown, had another reception and even threw a key block. Heath Miller added three more catches. Solid day for the TEs. Not just in catching but blocking as well. B+.

Offensive line: The line protected both Ben Roethlisberger and Landry Jones yielding just one sack. Meanwhile, they assisted DeAngelo Williams in having his big day. A+.

Kicker: Chris Boswell finally missed a field goal. But he made three others. His consistency has been something to admire. On kickoffs he did a solid job there as well. B.

Defensive line: Cameron Heyward continues to be the shining star of the Steelers’ defensive line. The men joining him up front play off Heyward’s performances. They hardly shine like the Cam. Last Sunday however, not just the defensive line, but the entire defense hardly had a banner day. C-.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

Linebackers: On one Oakland touchdown, Lawrence Timmons found himself in coverage. That’s not supposed to be the job of a linebacker. This unit also did not fair as well against the run. However, they were part of five forced fumbles and three were recovered. These linebackers are better than what the fans at Heinz Field saw last Sunday. C-.

Safeties: It’s getting more enjoyable each week watching Mike Mitchell play. He’s delivering the talent that he showed in his final season in Carolina. Will Allen returned to the lineup and played well not showing much rust. B-.

Cornerbacks: Michael Crabtree scorched the secondary for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Rookie Amari Cooper took home another 88 yards and a score. Not a good day for the corners. D.

Punter: Solid performance for Jordan Berry. 41.6 average, three punts inside the 20, and a 51-yard effort. A.

Intangibles: An important win for the Steelers who did not want to lose a third in a row and second straight at home. The team showed plenty of heart and played hard to the end. Landry Jones showed excellent poise in relieving Ben Roethlisberger again. B+.

Next: NFL: Still Making Picks In Week 10

Coaching: Two fourth down attempts for a first down and you have to like Mike Tomlin’s aggressive calls, something that has become common this season. Play calling was good, but Keith Butler has to be majorly disappointed in his unit’s performance. B-.

Overall Grade: A win is a win but you certainly want your team to perform better than how Pittsburgh’s defense did last Sunday. True they were up against a rising Oakland team, and perhaps the fact that the game turned into a shootout was a factor, but still, at some point, the Steelers defense has to turn in a dominating performance.B-