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NFL Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 14 Report Card

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Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 14 Report Card

Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Even Frigid conditions and snow couldn’t help the Pittsburgh Steelers get back on the winning track when they faced the Miami Dolphins at Heinz Field in Week 14. Despite a valiant effort for a comeback victory, the Steelers (5-8) came up short to the Dolphins (7-6) by the score of 34-28.

Pittsburgh got off to a good start by jumping ahead 7-0 in the first quarter, only to surrender 10 unanswered points going into halftime. Miami added another touchdown early in the third quarter, making the score 17-7, but Pittsburgh responded with an offensive and defensive touchdown on the next two ensuing drives.

The continued seesaw battle eventually fell in the favor of the team from South Beach, making the possibilities of the Steelers making the postseason virtually impossible. Now, Pittsburgh is in third place in the AFC North (four games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals), and are five spots away from the final wild card spot in the conference.

Although the defense came up with some big plays throughout the game, this disappointing loss was largely due to the defense’s inability to resort to their fundamental ability to tackle and cover in the passing game. Even if the Steelers’ final play, which included five laterals, would have counted, it wouldn’t have hidden the fact that Pittsburgh’s defense played below average as a whole.

Unfortunately, after seeing this game, it isn’t hard to give the Steelers a less than exceptional report card for Week 14 of the 2013 NFL season. Let’s take a look and see where they stand.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+.

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Quarterback

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Roethlisberger has 349 yards passing, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. However, Roethlisberger did lose a fumble after getting sacked. Despite the turnover, Big Ben managed to get the majority of his passing yards in the second half, and almost engineered a comeback victory.

Grade: B

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Running Backs

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Because Pittsburgh was trailing for most of the game, the Steelers decided to abandon the ground attack, which resulted in rookie running back Le’Veon Bell carrying the ball only 15 times for 61 yards. Bell also added five receptions for 28 yards out of the backfield. The second-round draft pick showed no ill effects of the concussion he suffered a week ago.

Grade: C

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Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from stepping out of bounds on the final play of the game, Antonio Brown had yet another stellar game. His 137 receiving yards was a game-high, and his 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown swung the momentum back to the Steelers’ side in the third quarter. Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery contributed with touchdown receptions of their own.

Grade: B

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Offensive Line

Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Not having Fernando Velasco and Kelvin Beachum in the lineup proved to be costly. Pittsburgh’s offensive line surrendered three sacks in this contest, along with a number of hurries on Roethlisberger. Penalties by the O-line also hurt the Steelers in crucial situations.

Grade: D

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Defensive Line

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive end Cameron Heyward surprisingly had a team-high 10 tackles and a sack. Unfortunately, his play alone couldn’t keep the Dolphins from rushing for 181 yards.

Grade: D

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Linebackers

Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like Jason Worilds will be playing on the left side of the defense for the remainder of the year after recording two more sacks on the season. Unfortunately, LaMarr Woodley and rookie Jarvis Jones were non-factors in Pittsburgh’s attempt to slow down the Dolphins.

Grade: C-

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Defensive Backs

Steelers
Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The number of missed tackles by Pittsburgh’s secondary overshadowed the pick-six by safety Troy Polamalu. Dolphins tight end Charles Clay had seven catches for 97 yards and found the end zone twice. Polamalu and cornerback Cortez Allen whiffed on several opportunities to tackle Clay, which resulted in him scoring the game-winning touchdown.

Grade: D-

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Special Teams

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The special teams unit allowed a blocked punt in the first half, and a holding penalty in the in the fourth quarter gave the Steelers’ offense the ball deep in their own territory on the final drive of the game.

Grade: D

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Coaching

Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After getting his team on a winning streak several weeks ago, head coach Mike Tomlin has yet again let the Steelers fall into a funk. The decision to go for it on fourth-and-10 deep in their own territory raised a lot of eyebrows. It looks like the end for Pittsburgh is near.

Grade: F