BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after their head-scratching loss in Oaktown.
The Steelers were attempting to get back on track against a 2-10 opponent on the road and it’s time to see if they made the grade or if a letter is going home to their parents, Spoiler alert…they didn’t and one will.
Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I found myself noticing just how equal the two teams actually are and that shows in their respective records. And then I realized that these teams both usually battle fiercely in tight contests. Then the game happened and judgments followed.
Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what count the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well.
So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:
Ben Roethlisberger was 25/29 with 2 TDs and it doesn’t matter that his stat line was prettier than his actual play on the field, because he was great when he came back in late in the game. Why Josh Dobbs (a pitiful 4/9 for 24 yards and an interception) stayed in so long even after Ben was medically cleared is a mystery that can’t be answered with the ridiculousness of Mike Tomlin’s explanation, “We were in the flow of the game”.
Ben couldn’t account for the paltry running game either. James Conner’s absence was glaring. Stevan Ridley had four yards on five carries, while rookie Jaylen Samuels was a little better with 92 total yards (28 yards on 11 carries and 64 yards receiving), but not much. The offensive line was pretty good pass blocking, but couldn’t open holes against a team ranked 22nd in run defense.
AB had only five catches on seven targets. He should have been called upon more. The best performance on offense was put in by JuJu Smith-Schuster. No. 19 had eight catches for 130 yards and 2 scores.
The defensive line continues to play well with Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt put pressure on Derek Carr and engulfed ball carriers. TJ Watt and Bud Dupree were very good as well. Then there was the inside linebackers and the secondary. Simply put…Horrendous. They were dominated by TEs that went for 108 yards against them. When you continue to blow leads, it’s a problem that isn’t being addressed properly. This team folds when it needs a big stop.
Special Teams: D-
Not special at all. Berry had a decent first punt, but was poor after that. They weren’t getting penalized, that’s good. But Boswell cost the team another game. That’s unacceptable.
Overall Grade: F
While a lot of suspects could be pointed ar for losing to a 2-10 team, Mike Tomlin gets the lion’s share of the blame. Call timeouts and play your franchise quarterback. It’s that simple. This was a huge opportunity lost and it isn’t acceptable.