Steelers Report Card: Steelers vs. Green Bay

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QUARTERBACK

Ben Roethlisberger passed for two touchdowns and ran for another to headline a 21-point third quarter. However, a costly interception on first down, with the Steelers leading, 31-21, led to a touchdown that started the Packers' comeback. Roethlisberger was 8 of 14 for 88 yards and a touchdown in the first half and was nearly identical in the second half (8 of 14 for 79 yards, one TD). He also scored on a 13-yard scramble at the start of the second half.

 

GRADE: B

 

 

RUNNING BACKS

Le'Veon Bell had his first 100-yard game -- 124 yards on 26 carries -- in his rookie showdown with Eddie Lacy. Bell, though, had a costly fumble at his 3 that led to the Packers' go-ahead touchdown. But he answered on the next series with a 25-yard run on the first play to help set up a touchdown. Bell had 52 yards on seven carries in the first quarter, including a 22-yard run to set up the first touchdown.

 

GRADE: A

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Antonio Brown had six catches for 105 yards -- his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season -- and continued his streak of at least five catches and 50 yards in every game. His 36-yard catch down the sideline set up the first touchdown -- a 1-yard catch by Emmanuel Sanders. TE Matt Spaeth had only one catch, but it was a big one -- an 11-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 24-21 lead.

GRADE: B

 

 

OFFENSIVE LINE

It might have been the best performance of the season for the offensive line. The Steelers rushed for a season-high 151 yards, had their first 100-yard rusher, averaged 5.2 yards per carry and allowed only one sack against a team that had 42 in 14 games. LT Kelvin Beachum gave up the only sack in the first half when OLB Clay Matthews ran around him. Otherwise, it was pretty much a mistake-free game by the unit.

GRADE: A+

 

 

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Packers were able to rush for 151 yards, average 5 yards per attempt and score three rushing touchdowns -- bringing to 18 the number of rushing TDs against the Steelers this season, the most since 1988 (20). Rookie Eddie Lacy had 69 of his 84 yards in the first half and scored two touchdowns, including a 14-yarder in the second quarter. DE Cam Heyward had two costly 15-yard penalties, but DE Brett Keisel had a sack and fumble recovery playing on a bad foot.

GRADE: C

 

LINEBACKERS

The Steelers played most of the second half with Chris Carter and Stevenson Sylvester at outside linebacker because of injuries and illness. Jason Worilds, who left the game with a stinger, and Lawrence Timmons each had third-down sacks in the first quarter to get the defense off the field. Vince Williams turned in a big play to tackle Lacy for a 2-yard loss on first down after Bell's fumble at the 3.

GRADE: B-

 

 

SECONDARY

Troy Polamalu's big strip-fumble on Matt Flynn with 1:51 remaining led to the winning touchdown on a day when the secondary made several big plays. The biggest was turned in by CB Cortez Allen, whose 40-yard interception return for a touchdown highlighted a 14-point sequence in 18 seconds. That more than atoned for when Allen took a bad angle and allowed a 5-yard TD pass to Jarrett Boykin

GRADE: A

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

All the big plays by the special teams -- a fake punt, a blocked field goal and two long returns -- were nearly spoiled by a 70-yard kick return with 1:25 remaining. Mat McBriar's 30-yard pass to TE David Paulson on a fake punt set up a touchdown. Steve McLendon blocked a field goal that actually came back to hurt the Steelers. And Emmanuel Sanders' 46-yard kick return at the end of the first half set up a Shaun Suisham field goal with :02 remaining.

GRADE: A

 

COACHING

The decision to score a touchdown with 1:25 remaining, rather than take two knees and run down the clock for a winning field goal, nearly came back to haunt Mike Tomlin. And the decision to throw on first down with a 31-21 lead, resulting in an interception that led to a Packers field goal and started their 10-point comeback, was just as dubious. But Tomlin never backed down, calling a fake punt that led to a touchdown in the third quarter and going on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter, and for that he is to be commended.

GRADE: B

 

 


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