Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 6 Report Card
Week 6 Report Card
For the first time in the year 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally tasted victory when they defeated the New York Jets 19-6 in Week 6. The Steelers’ (1-4) last win was in the final week of the 2012 season in late December. Before the win over the Jets (3-3), Pittsburgh was 0-4 in this year’s preseason, and started the regular season off losing their first four games. With the winless monkey off their back, the Steelers just might be getting things on the right track.
Although everything wasn’t perfect, the team’s overall performance was much better than what they displayed during the first month of the season. Offensively, the team managed to move the ball, despite going up against one of the NFL’s best defenses. Furthermore, no turnovers were committed, but many points were left on the field, and some improvement is still needed on the offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, the defense finally reverted to their old ball-hawking ways by coming away with not one, but two interceptions. In addition, they got some much-needed pressure on the opposing quarterback.
I must admit, I thought that this would be another unfortunate mismatch for the Steelers. Needless to say, I stand corrected. To me, the deciding factors of this game was clearly the experience of Pittsburgh’s veteran defense versus the inexperience of New York’s rookie quarterback, and the Steelers’ defense getting back to the fundamentals of the game.
For a more in-depth look on how Pittsburgh got reacquainted with their winning ways, here is the team’s Week 6 report card.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Unlike the first four games, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger protected the ball the entire game and didn’t commit a turnover. Roethlisberger completed 23 of his 30 pass attempts for 264 yards and a touchdown, and did his best to escape when under pressure.
Pittsburgh’s running game was probably the only thing that didn’t excite Steeler Nation against the Jets. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell finished the game with a modest 34 yards on 16 carries. As a collective bunch, the Steelers’ running backs combined for 62 yards on 24 carries (2.6 yards per carry). Furthermore, the offense ran eight screen plays to compensate for the lack of production on the ground. I can’t blame their low rushing numbers solely on them.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Once again, wide receiver Antonio Brown is proving why he should be the team’s number-one receiver. Brown converted on a couple of big first downs, and finished the game with nine receptions for 86 yards (both game-highs). Fellow receiver Emmanuel Sanders finally came up big with a 55-yard touchdown catch early in the third quarter, and had 70 yards receiving overall. More importantly, tight end Heath Miller is looking like he’s becoming Roethlisberger’s security blanket again. The Pro Bowler had six catches for 84 yards.
All eyes were on the left tackle position, meaning Kelvin Beachum was under a microscope all game. Beachum finished the game with three offensive penalties, and allowed what could have been a sack for a safety in the first quarter. As for the rest of the offensive line, the Jets got past them for four sacks, and they still had trouble controlling the line of scrimmage to get the ground attack rolling. But they did well enough to help the offense manage the game late in the fourth quarter.
The defensive front did a good job in containing the Jets’ running game by allowing only 83 yards rushing, which is the first time the Steelers held an opponent under 100 yards on the ground this season. Recently promoted defensive end Cameron Heyward played well, and now reserve defensive end Ziggy Hood came up with a sack.
In the first four games of the season, Pittsburgh only managed to tally four sacks. Against the Jets, the defense almost matched that total and came away with three. Two of those sacks were by linebackers Jason Worilds and LaMarr Woodley. The play that put the nail in New York’s coffin was the interception in the red zone by Lawrence Timmons.
There was some doubt with cornerback William Gay being placed in the starting lineup, but fortunately, those doubts were laid to rest this week. Pittsburgh’s secondary held the Jets’ passing game in check, with the help of their pass rush, and only allowed 201 passing yards. Safety Ryan Clark made the first big defensive play of the year for the Steelers when he picked off rookie quarterback Geno Smith midway through the third quarter.
There are no big kick or punt returns to speak of, and kicker Shaun Suisham came up big by connecting on all four of his field goal attempts. Even punter Zoltan Mesko showed some improvement on his below-average punting from this season, but still was unable to pen the Jets inside the 20-yard line.
Head coach Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers’ coaching staff did a great job of taking full advantage of their bye week, and finding a way to get the team back on the winning track. What makes this even greater is the fact that Pittsburgh did this on the road with their backs against the wall. These are the Steelers that the league is accustomed to seeing.