Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 9 Report Card
Week 9 Report Card
It appeared that the Pittsburgh Steelers actually had a chance at winning their matchup against the New England Patriots in Week 9. After falling behind 24-10 in the first half, the Steelers (2-6) scored two touchdowns in the third quarter before surrendering a field goal, and entered the fourth quarter trailing by three points.
Then the wheels came off for Pittsburgh when the Patriots (7-2) went on a rampage and put up four touchdowns of their own, ending the game with a 55-31 victory over the dysfunctional Steelers squad.
This is without a doubt the worst defensive performance that anyone has seen throughout Pittsburgh’s 81 years of existence in the NFL. The Steelers allowed franchise-highs in points (55) and total yardage (610). New England had a 400-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and three 100-yard receivers in this massacre.
Despite the meltdown by the defense, Pittsburgh’s offense did what it could to keep the team in the game. Unsuspected players stepped up, and some big plays were made on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, three turnovers proved to be costly.
There is no doubt that this season is pretty much over for the black and gold. The possibilities of making the postseason while sitting at the very bottom of the AFC North are virtually nonexistent. The only question now is what will be done by the organization in order to get things corrected for next season. Whatever it is, it needs to be done as soon as possible.
Here’s the report card for arguably the worst week in Steelers' history.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
For the second time this season, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 400 yards in a losing effort, and had four touchdown passes. As usual, the team wouldn’t have had a fighting chance if it wasn’t for the play of Roethlisberger. However, Big Ben did turn the ball over three times, two of which resulted in New England scoring touchdowns.
As a unit, Pittsburgh’s backfield had a total of 20 carries. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell had 16 of those carries for 74 yards. Bell also had four catches for 65 yards. The second-round draft pick’s solid overall game was marred by a couple of dropped passes coming out of the backfield. Fellow running back Jonathan Dwyer chipped in with 30 yards on his lone carry of the game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The numbers the Steelers’ receiving corps put up paled in comparison to what the Patriots’ pass catchers did. However, wide receivers Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery all had productive games. Brown, who still leads the league in receptions, had five catches for 71 yards and a touchdown, while Sanders added a team-high 98 yards on six grabs. The surprise, however, was Cotchery’s seven receptions for 96 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
Once again, the offensive line allowed five sacks in a single game. But even though the running game wasn’t highly potent, there was some improvement. The O-line managed to open up some holes for a couple of long runs for their ball carriers, and did so without the services of starting right guard David DeCastro.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward seemed to be coming into his own against the Patriots. Along with his one sack, Heyward was in the face of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady several times. Furthermore, the defensive line did stand its ground on a goal line stance early in the game. Unfortunately, that dominance didn’t last because New England ran the ball right down the throat of the Steelers for nearly 200 yards.
As mentioned earlier, the Patriots running game had close to 200 yards rushing, and scored three touchdowns. Poor tackling was yet another reason for their unacceptable performance. To make matters worse, Pittsburgh’s linebackers couldn’t keep up with Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had over 100 yards receiving in the first half, and finished the game with nine receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Safety Troy Polamalu did come up with a big turnover early in the third quarter, which led to a Steelers touchdown. However, Polamalu’s overall play didn’t settle well with his poor coverage in the secondary. The same can be said for the rest of their defensive backs, since New England had three players combine for 395 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Pittsburgh had a couple of big returns from Brown and Felix Jones on special teams. Unfortunately, just when the Steelers were back in the game, the punt coverage unit allowed a huge return by the Patriots that led to New England widening the gap by 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Nothing else can really be said about the overall performance by the Steelers in this game. Head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau couldn’t find an answer to what was being done to them at any point. This game just shows that Pittsburgh will have to start thinking about next season right now.