Steelers Report Card: Game 4 vs. Texans
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Ben Roethlisberger blamed himself for not making enough plays, but anybody who watched him get sacked five times and pounded on several other occasions would never think to blame him. His best moment came when he completed four of five passes for 64 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter to make it 10-7. But he also had a pick-six negated by a penalty.
RUNNING BACKS D+
After rushing for only 28 yards in the first half, the Steelers at least leaned on their running game in the second half for 90 yards on 17 carries, including a 3-yard TD run on a toss play by Rashard Mendenhall. And, for a change, it looked very efficient when they rushed for 60 yards -- 32 by Isaac Redman -- on eight carries on the tying field-goal drive. Still, too much inconsistency.
WIDE RECEIVERS D
After catching four passes for 77 yards in the first half, Mike Wallace was shut out in the second half when the Steelers had to make big plays in the passing game. Antonio Brown picked up the slack with five catches for 67 yards, all in the second half, but Hines Ward and Emmanuel Sanders each had just one catch. But, it's tough to make plays downfield when the QB is taking a beating.
OFFENSIVE LINE F
Critics of LT Jonathan Scott might want to see him back in the lineup after this; Trai Essex gave up at least two sacks as the Texans kept bringing pressure from the left side. OLB Mario Williams had two of the five sacks, including one against RT Marcus Gilbert. The line is having problems picking up twists and stunts. It had better do something before Roethlisberger really gets hurt.
DEFENSIVE LINE F
What has happened to the rush defense? The Steelers have allowed two 100-yard rushers in four games after allowing just three in the previous 85 games before this season. RB Arian Foster had 155 yards rushing, many on the same stretch/cutback play the Steelers have been unable to stop. It was the same play that produced his winning 42-yard touchdown run.
The tone was set early when the Texans ran 12 times for 63 yards on the opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. The Texans averaged 5.1 yards a rush and finished with 180 yards. What's more, QB Matt Schaub wasn't sacked, and LaMarr Woodley didn't contain the backside on Foster's winning TD. James Harrison said the Steelers played like garbage, and that includes this unit.
DEFENSIVE BACKS B-
It helped that WR Andre Johnson went out in the second quarter with an injured hamstring after catching four passes. And Schaub attempted only six passes in the second half, though one was a 30 yarder to TE Owen Daniels to set up Foster's winning touchdown run. It's never a good sign when both safeties -- Troy Polamalu (9) and Ryan Clark (7) -- are the leading tacklers.
SPECIAL TEAMS C
The Steelers are lucky a blocked field goal return for a touchdown at the end of the first half was negated by a penalty. Otherwise, their coverage units were good and Daniel Sepulveda averaged 50.5 yards on four punts, including a big 58-yarder from his 9 in the fourth quarter. The offense failed to do anything with Antonio Brown's 33-yard punt return with less than four minutes to go.
The offensive line keeps seeing the same twists that put pressure on Roethlisberger, and still they haven't done anything to stop them. The same thing is happening on defense, where opponents are hurting the Steelers with cutback runs on stretch plays. This would have been a lot worse if two Texan TD returns and a fumble recovery hadn't been wiped out by penalties.
First Published October 3, 2011 12:00 am