The Pittsburgh Steelers were embarrassed by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday in a 30-15 loss. However, the final score wasn’t the only problem with the game: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sustained a knee injury and underwent surgery Monday.
Now, the Steelers are heading into a tough Sunday game against the New England Patriots without Pittsburgh’s leading man. Who will step up for the Steelers?
But let’s first take a look at how we graded the Steelers’ performance against the Dolphins down in Miami.
Quarterback: Part of me wants to give Roethlisberger sympathy points, but two interceptions against the Dolphins’ defense can’t make me do that. Roethlisberger threw for only 189 yards on 19/34 completed passes and was technically credited with the touchdown in the first quarter from Darrius Heyward-Bey. He looked good before his knee injury, but he everything was off once he returned. Grade: D+
Running Backs: Ever since Le’Veon Bell’s return, DeAngelo Williams has been absent in the Steelers’ run game. Against the Dolphins, Bell was limited to only 53 yards on 10 rush attempts. Williams didn’t do any better, rushing for 10 yards on three carries. It was actually Heyward-Bey who led the rushing group with his 60-yard touchdown. The only positive for this group was Bell’s two-point conversion reception after Heyward-Bey’s touchdown. Grade: D-
Wide Receivers: Even though his touchdown came from a rushing attempt, Heyward-Bey is a wide receiver and was one of the positive players against the Dolphins. Also scoring a touchdown was wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, who secured a 23-yard pass from Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter. Antonio Brown didn’t break out in the game, only recording 39 yards on four receptions. No wide receiver recorded over 100 receiving yards. Grade: C
Tight ends: Jesse James and Xavier Grimble were both absent in two parts of the game: receiving and blocking. James and Grimble both combined for only 24 receiving yards on a combined three receptions (James caught two passes), and neither impressed with any blocking skills. Grade: D-
Offensive Line: When a quarterback gets injured and the run game does nothing, all eyes turn to the offensive line. And Pittsburgh’s offensive line did practically nothing against the Dolphins. They didn’t help the run game and didn’t protect Roethlisberger from the Dolphins’ pass rush. Grade: F
Defensive Line: After two games where the defense finally got pressure on the opposing quarterback, the Steelers’ defense couldn’t find Ryan Tannehill and bring him down, even though Tannehill has been one of the easiest quarterbacks to bring down this season. The worst part? The defensive line let Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi run past them for 204 yards and two touchdowns. They also let Damien Williams rush for a touchdown and 12 yards. Grade: F-
Linebackers: The linebackers get the same grade as the defensive line for the same reasons listed above. Nothing else really needs to be said. Grade: F-
Secondary: While the defensive line and the linebackers got steamrolled by the Dolphins’ running backs, the secondary didn’t quite get torched by Tannehill and his receivers — but those wideout still did their damage. Jarvis Landry had 91 receiving yards, while MarQueis Gray followed with 81 receiving yards. In total, Tannehill lit up Pittsburgh’s secondary with a total of 252 passing yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. Grade: C-
Special Teams: Kicker Chris Boswell converted his extra point attempt but wasn’t able to even attempt a field goal. It was a slow day for Boswell, but punter Jordan Berry saw a little more action. Berry had five punts and averaged 30.8 yards; two were pinned inside the Dolphins’ 20-yard-line. Grade: B-
Coaching: Head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley tried, but they couldn’t revive their failing offense. As for defensive coordinator Keith Butler, he’ll be heading into a game against a powerful Patriots offense. If he thought the performance against the Dolphins was bad, he needs to shape up his defense — and quick — for Tom Brady and company. The only positive was the converted two-point conversion that Tomlin called to Roethlisberger. Grade: D
The Steelers will host the New England Patriots — without Landry Jones at the helm in place of Roethlisberger — on Sunday, October 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. EDT and will be aired on CBS.
Image credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald