Many expected the Pittsburgh Steelers to get blown out Thursday night to begin the season against the defending Super Bowl champions.
And while that wasn’t the case, they did come up short on the scoreboard.
Despite starting the season out on a bad note, there were some positive things coming from the black and gold. With that being said there were also plenty of negatives.
Let’s take a look at how the Steelers graded out in our first Steelers Report Card of the 2015 season.
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger was very good in his first test of the season, completing 26-of-38 pass attempts for 351 with a score and a pick. He made plays on third down and even had success taking shots down the field when the opportunity presented itself. The Steelers finished with more than 100 total yards than the Pats. The one knock is that they didn’t finish enough drives. Grade: B+
Running Backs- DeAngelo Williams filled in very nicely for Le’Veon Bell, rushing for 127 yards on 21 attempts. It was the first 100-yard game for Williams since Sept. 22, 2013. Makes you wonder how the playoffs would have shaken out if the Steelers had a capable backup for Bell a season ago. Grade: A
Wide Receivers- Antonio Brown did what Antonio Brown does, finishing the night with nine receptions for 133 yards and a late touchdown. We also saw some good things from both Darius Heyward-Bey and Heath Miller in the passing game. Overall six different players caught passes on the night. Heyward-Bey having a TD called back because his toe was out of bounds was a killer. Good night for the pass catchers overall. Grade: A
Offensive Line- In terms of blocking it was a solid night for the O-line. Williams had plenty of running room and Roethlisberger was protected for most of the night. The only sack came when center Cody Wallace failed to pick up a blitz. The bigger problem was a mental mistake from Kelvin Beachum, who jumped offsides at the one-yard line and forced the Steelers to settle for a field goal. Overall though it was a solid night from the front five. Grade: B
Defensive Line-The Steelers had to spend a lot of time in sub-packages, but overall did a decent job against the run, although Dion Lewis started to make some things happen in the second half. Nose tackle Steve McLendon had to spend a lot of time on the sidelines and the ends didn’t do much in terms of getting pressure. Grade: C
Linebackers- It was an average at best performance for the linebackers. Ryan Shazier and even Jarvis Jones looked good at times. But the Patriots had it easy as the linebackers as a group struggled in coverage all night. And applied very little pressure. Bud Dupree had a sack but was torched by Rob Gronkowski a couple of times. Shazier finished with seven tackles but looked much better against the run than the pass. Grade: C
Secondary– Gronkowski and the rest of the Patriots didn’t just have their way with the Steelers’ linebackers, they had their way with the secondary as well. The safeties had problems. Will Allen finished with a game-high eight tackles and a sack, but there were way too many communication breakdowns.
Brady threw for 288 yards and four scores and it was one of the easier performances of his career. At one point he completed a Patriots’ franchise-record 19 completions in a row. Brady finished with a quarterback rating of 143.8 and this Steelers’ secondary is going to have serious issues all season long. The most important part of the night was the fact that there were no turnovers created once again. Grade: D-
Special Teams- Anyone miss Shaun Suisham yet? New kicker Josh Scobee kicked two field goals, but missed on his first two attempts. In addition to the kicking issues, Dri Archer continues to show he is worthless as a returner. Grade: D-
Coaching- The Steelers battled. I liked how Todd Haley’s offense performed. They mixed it up nicely despite being without three of their best players in Bell, Martavis Bryant and Maurkice Pouncey. Keith Butler’s first night on the job should have been an eye opener. His defense has a long way to go. Grade: C
Photo Credit: USA Today Sports