Steelers Report Card: Game 2 vs. Seattle
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After throwing three picks and fumbling twice in Baltimore, Ben Roethlisberger came back with the type of patient, efficient performance the offense needed. He completed 22 of 30 passes, many on quick throws, and passed for 298 yards. What's more, he was 7 for 7 for 77 yards and ran the no-huddle to perfection on a drive that ended with a deft 2-yard TD pass to Mike Wallace.
RUNNING BACKS C+
Isaac Redman continues to make big plays, scoring on a 20-yard run, and Rashard Mendenhall carried five times for 33 yards on the first scoring drive. But those were the bright spots. The Steelers stalled twice at the goal line, managing 1 yard on four running plays -- three by Mendenhall. And they didn't do a good job trying to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
WIDE RECEIVERS A
Mike Wallace is developing into a multidimensional receiver who is just as dangerous with a short quick throw as he is a deep pass. He had his fifth 100-yard receiving game and caught eight passes for the second game in a row, including a 2-yard TD. Emmanuel Sanders added two catches for 44 yards, but how about that throw to Hines Ward on a gadget play?
OFFENSIVE LINE C+
Considering the unit had new starters at left guard (Ramon Foster) and right tackle (Marcus Gilbert), it wasn't all that bad. Gilbert failed to pick up blitzing CB Alan Bigby on a goal-line sack, but played very well after that. Still, the line could not generate any push on four goal-line runs. And Roethlisberger was under too much pressure off the left edge.
DEFENSIVE LINE A
After allowing 170 yards rushing in Baltimore, the unit responded by holding Seattle to 31 yards on 13 carries, with no run longer than 8 yards. DE Brett Keisel had a quarterback hit and batted a pass and DE Aaron Smith got good pressure and forced plays inside. Even backup Steve McClendon got in on the action with a half-sack.
They were certainly more active and more involved than the game in Baltimore, when tight ends and running backs were flashing free in the middle of the field. They did a good job taking away short passes and combined for 3 1/2 of the five sacks on Seattle QB Tarvaris Jackson. RB Marshawn Lynch had only 11 yards on six carries and rarely got to the second tier.
DEFENSIVE BACKS A
Jackson's numbers looked solid -- 20 of 29 for 159 yards and no interceptions -- but he never challenged the secondary and didn't complete a pass longer than 17 yards. CB William Gay started for injured Bryant McFadden and had a couple of big pass breakups. CB Ike Taylor allowed just one harmless completion for 9 yards, his first in two games. And Troy Polamalu didn't look old and slow.
SPECIAL TEAMS A-
Daniel Sepulveda didn't have to punt much, but when he did he was outstanding. He averaged 58.3 yards on three punts, including a 66-yarder. Antonio Brown had a 41-yard punt return to averaged 13.5 yards on four returns. And the coverage units held Leon Washington to 39 yards on two returns. But there was a dumb personal foul penalty after a play by rookie Curtis Brown.
The Steelers didn't try to play with a vengeance after what happened in Baltimore; they just tried to play the way they know how. And they did that with their first shutout in 34 games and an efficient ball-control performance by the offense, led by Roethlisberger. The only gaffe was challenging Mendenhall's failed goal-line attempt on the opening series when it was apparent he was down.
First Published September 19, 2011 12:00 am