Pittsburgh Steelers Week 13 Report Card
Week 13 Report Card
Even with a valiant effort in the final minutes of the game, the Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t come away with a Thanksgiving night victory, and came up on the short end of the stick in a 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Going into halftime down 10-0, the Steelers (5-7) were still in the game against the rival Ravens (6-6), and never gave up in this bitter rivalry game.
The short time of preparation for this game didn’t have an effect on Pittsburgh’s performance on offense and defense, which was actually good enough to help come away with the team’s sixth win of the season. Unfortunately, their special teams unit did enough damage to prevent that from happening.
As suspected, this game was close from start to finish. Both the Steelers and the Ravens continued their recent tradition of closely scored matchups. Dating back to 2009, nine of the last 10 meetings between these two teams have been decided by three points or less.
At the end of the NFL’s Week 13, the Steelers are now in third place in the AFC North. With four games remaining on the schedule, things aren’t looking good for their chances at the postseason. Pittsburgh is now three games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals, while Baltimore sits in second place with a one-game lead over the Steelers.
Despite Pittsburgh’s seventh loss of the season, their overall performance in this game shouldn’t have left a totally bad taste in the mouths of everyone in Steeler Nation. Here are Pittsburgh’s grades from Week 13.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Ben Roethlisberger’s performance kept the Steelers in the game, even after being down by 13 points and nine points during the second half. Roethlisberger’s 257 passing yards and two touchdowns were solid numbers, but his play on their final drive in attempts to tie the game was even bigger.
Rookie Le’Veon Bell continues to show that he’s a dual-threat running back. Bell finished the game with 136 total yards, 73 of which came on the ground, and the team’s only rushing touchdown. Bell sacrificing his body on the final drive for what could have been a touchdown stood out even more.
Wide Recievers/Tight Ends
The numbers from Pittsburgh’s wide receivers were far from the great numbers that we’ve seen over the past few weeks. Antonio Brown, the team’s leading receiver, had five receptions for 59 yards, and Emmanuel Sanders added six catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Heath Miller had his best game of the season with eight receptions for 86 yards. The only blemish was the drop by Sanders during the two-point conversion attempt that would have sent the game into overtime.
For the second straight week, Pittsburgh’s offensive line didn’t allow a single sack. In addition to their recent improvement in pass protecting, they also helped pave the way for a solid ground attack that kept them in the game in the second half.
Pittsburgh’s defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage virtually all game. Baltimore couldn’t get anything started on the ground, and the D-line had a total of 15 tackles.
Jason Worilds continued to get consistent pressure on the quarterback, and tallied the team’s only two sacks. The rest of the linebacking corps did an exceptional job in shutting down the Ravens’ running game.
The secondary’s mental lapse early in the first quarter resulted in 54-yard reception by Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith. This led to Smith’s seven-yard touchdown reception. After that, Pittsburgh’s defensive backs settled down, and kept Baltimore’s receivers out of the end zone.
Pittsburgh’s special teams can take the brunt of this defeat. While down seven points midway in the second quarter, kicker Shaun Suisham moved too soon on a 50-yard field goal attempt, resulting in a turnover on downs. In coverage on kick returns, Pittsburgh surrendered two big run backs that were turned into two Ravens field goals. Even with those two field goals by Baltimore, Suisham’s only chance at a field goal would have been enough to give the Steelers their fourth win in a row.
Despite the special teams’ horrible performance, head coach Mike Tomlin did everything he could to have his team in position to win this divisional matchup (not including his unintentional interference on a kick return). Even after being in the hole the entire game, and having only four days to prepare, Pittsburgh never lost focus.