The Pittsburgh Steelers might have lost to the New England Patriots on Sunday, 27-16, but it wasn’t the blowout many thought it would be.
Give the Steelers some credit: They held their own against what is considered to be the best offense in the NFL. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and LeGarrette Blount aren’t easy to defend, but the Steelers held them to only 27 points, which is a victory within itself.
Now, the Steelers head into their much-needed bye week where they’ll get some rest and injured players will have more time to recuperate. While they aren’t going into the bye with a win, there are several positives from the Patriots game to look back on.
Here are the Steelers’ grades from their Week 7 loss to the Patriots.
Quarterback: Landry Jones didn’t do a terrible job, but he didn’t make any flashy plays either. In the endzone, Jones found Darrius Heyward-Bey for a touchdown, but he also found Malcolm Butler for an interception. In the game, Jones threw 29/47 completed passes for 281 yards. Jones was good, but he wasn’t good enough. Grade: C+
Running Backs: It was another week where Le’Veon Bell didn’t break more than 100 yards, despite looking very good on several occasions. DeAngelo Williams was inactive, so it was the Bell show. He rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries, and his longest run was only 12 yards. Grade: C
Wide Receivers: Even though he only finished the day with 30 yards on three receptions, Heyward-Bey seemed to be everywhere against the Patriots. He made contributions on special teams and almost had a second touchdown, but a penalty flag ruined the play. Leading the receivers was Antonio Brown with 106 receiving yards on seven receptions. Grade: B-
Tight Ends: Again, it was a less-than-stellar week for Pittsburgh’s tight ends. Jesse James and Xavier Grimble both recorded two catches each — James for 18 yards and Grimble for 14 yards. David Johnson wasn’t much help either, only catching one pass for five yards. Once again, the tight ends didn’t help the run game much, either. Grade: D
Offensive Line: The offensive line had its first game of the year where the Steelers’ quarterback didn’t get sacked. The Patriots’ defense just couldn’t get to Jones. While the offensive line didn’t help the run game much, protecting the quarterback from sacks is a major improvement. Grade: B +
Defensive Line: While the Steelers’ offensive line protected Jones, the Patriots’ offensive line protected Brady, and Pittsburgh’s defensive line couldn’t get to him. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt led the defensive line in tackles (2). And the defensive line didn’t stop Blount, who rushed for two touchdowns and 127 yards on 25 carries. Grade: D+
Linebackers: The Steelers’ linebackers did a pretty good job against New England. While they could’ve stopped more touchdowns, they certainly stepped up their game from last year. Lawrence Timmons had a big day, recording 11 solo tackles. Jarvis Jones also stepped up to the plate, stripping the ball from Chris Hogan and recovering the ball. Grade: C+
Secondary: We’re going to forget about the absurd personal foul call on Artie Burns for tackling Blount to the ground too hard, because that’s what football has come to. The secondary allowed two touchdowns in the air and gave up 222 passing yards from Brady to his receivers. William Gay led the secondary in tackles with five, four being solo tackles. Grade: C
Special Teams: Kicker Chris Boswell did miss two field goals (from 42 yards and 54 yards), which could have potentially been game changers, but punter Jordan Berry had a great day. Berry hit 195 yards on four punts, landing one inside the 20 yard line. Long snapper Greg Warren recovered a punt fumbled by New England’s Julian Edelman. Grade: B-
Coaching: Mike Tomlin made the wrong decision throwing the challenge flag to challenge a clear catch by Gronkowski. The call remained the same, and Pittsburgh could have used the timeout it lost later in the first half. Tomlin also made a questionable decision to have Boswell try a career-high 54-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth down. But going against the Patriots — and head coach Bill Belichick — isn’t easy, and Tomlin drew up a solid game plan. Grade: C
The Steelers are going into their bye week, but they’ll return to the football field on November 6 when they’ll face the Ravens at 1 p.m. EDT in Baltimore.
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