Pittsburgh Steelers: The Seattle Report Card


With a back and forth game left behind in Seattle, Washington, the Pittsburgh Steelers are home for a nationally televised game this Sunday night hosting the Indianapolis Colts. Both teams are 6-5 and very much in need of a victory to stay in the wild card race, and for the Colts, an effort to stay on top of the AFC South.

The game in Seattle could have gone either way, and if not for some poor defense and a few costly turnovers by the offense, the Steelers might very well be sitting on a 7-4 record. Once again, Ben Roethlisberger was injured although this time not as seriously, as he was forced to go through the NFL’s concussion protocol. Big Ben has declared himself ready to go for Sunday. While most of the team played well last Sunday, other areas did not and for that, this week’s grades reflect the poor performances.

Quarterback: If you count Landry Jones in on this grade, he gets an F for making the poor decision to go ahead with the pass on the fake field goal attempt that was intercepted and turned into points. Ben Roethlisberger also had an interception but did that twice. Those three errors resulted in points on the board, the difference in the game. Still, there was plenty of offense but the mistakes overshadow the positives. C-.

Running Backs: This game was mostly comprised of air warfare. Nothing spectacular from either team out of the backfield. C-.

Wide Receivers: The reemergence of Markus Wheaton was a very welcome site. The drops by Martavis Bryant and his wrong route run was not so pleasant to see. Antonio Brown was held in check so not the type of day Mike Tomlin wished for from his receivers. B-.

More from Pittsburgh Steelers

Tight End: When was the last time you can remember three tight ends catching passes in a single game for Pittsburgh? Heath Miller had five in Seattle, as Jesse James and Matt Spaeth contributed with one each. The running game was nearly non-existent so blocking was not in the game plan as much as normal. B.

Offensive line: With two sacks allowed, the line performed well against a stout defense. B+.

Kicker: Three more field goals for CB-Well and as the Steelers opt for two-point conversions instead of the PATs, Boswell had just one last Sunday. I can’t repeat it enough…I believe Boswell is the future at kicker…no offense to incumbent Shaun Suisham. A.

Defensive line: Perhaps more pressure on Russell Wilson would have kept him from throwing five touchdown passes, but Cam Heyward continues to shine. Stephon Tuitt‘s growth keeps rising. The middle needs work. Steve McLendon is far from ever being a Casey Hampton so opposing runners are getting into the next level. B.

Linebackers: The area that has always been Pittsburgh’s biggest strength is once again developing into the season’s best defensive unit. It’s too bad Ryan Shazier can’t stay on the field and when Pittsburgh concludes their season, it might be time to cut ties and move forward. Much like when Daniel Sepulveda kept getting hurt, Shazier seems to find it difficult to not suffer some sort of injury. B-.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers /

Pittsburgh Steelers

Safeties: For several weeks I was calling out Mike Mitchell and how well he was playing. But the secondary is becoming porous again and Mitchell and Will Allen playing in front of the cornerbacks are just not tackling well enough and covering the underneath zones with tight coverage. Troy Polamalu’s outstanding tackling abilities as well as Ryan Clark’s are sorely missed. D.

Cornerbacks: It gets tiresome complaining about Pittsburgh’s DBs. They simply can’t be considered “shut down.” However, there are truly very few true shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL these days, but coverage should be better than what we are seeing. Every year the Steelers draft or sign a rookie free agent CB but none have yet to shine. Losing rookie Senquez Golson and Cortez Allen for the year stung big. D.

Coaching: There are those unhappy with some of the decisions Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley made in week 12. Much like Pete Carroll’s call in last season’s Super Bowl that did not work and lost the game for Seattle, in defense of those kind of decisions the thought process can be one way. If a questionable play call works, the coach is a genius or will be considered to having made a great call. When it fails, it’s a terrible decision. So Tomlin and Haley’s decision to run a fake field goal that turned into a disaster is considered by some as foolish. Still, you have to like the gahones on Tomlin for being gutsy and aggressive. B+.

Next: Pedro Alvarez Released By Pirates

 Intangibles: When the season began, looking at Pittsburgh’s schedule, not many would have penciled this game in as a victory for the Steelers. If some of the previous games lost had been wins, then a loss in Seattle may have been easier to stomach. But going in with a 6-4 record, the game became important in the W column. Football is a game of inches and execution and both of those did not work in Pittsburgh’s favor. A small change here, a dropped pass there, maybe one less interception, and the Steelers could have easily won this game. C+.

Overall grade: Aside from the interceptions, the aggressiveness by the Steelers and the risky calls, made this for a different approach to a typical Steelers game. One must take the good with the bad and if this is the style Mike Tomlin wants to play, Steelers Nation should accept that. Erase the mistakes in Seattle and Pittsburgh may have won that game going away. If they clean up their act and the defense learns to tackle and cover better, this is a team that can challenge ANY team in the NFL. B-.