Things looked bleak for the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field until an unexpected hero emerged in a 25-13 victory against a very good Arizona Cardinals team.
There was a lot to like about this performance as well as a lot not to like.
I get into that in my weekly Steelers Report Card.
Quarterbacks- Mike Vick continued his stretch of poor play and it’s hard to imagine him looking any worse, leaving the game with a total of six passing yards. He gets an F. Landry Jones was the hero of the day and it is hard to imagine him coming into his first NFL game and playing any better. After leading the Steelers on four scoring drives, including two touchdown passes, Jones gets an A+ for his 8-of-12 168 yard performance. I will average out the grade for the two. Grade: C+
Running Backs- Le’Veon Bell had a hard time getting going, but still ended up with 88 yards on the ground. He had eight carries that didn’t produce positive yards, and didn’t catch a pass. Grade: C+
Wide Receivers- Welcome back Martavis Bryant. While Antonio Brown acted like a diva at times and for the third week in a row was barely a contributor on the Steelers’ offense, Bryant picked up the slack with six catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns, including an 88-yard catch-and-run for the second Steelers touchdown. Of course neither Bryant nor Brown had much of a chance to contribute until Jones came into the game. No one else did much of anything from a pass catching standpoint. Grade: B-
Offensive Line- The Steelers lost Kelvin Beachum, but Alejandro Villanueva stepped in and did a very nice job. The line only allowed one sack on the afternoon against a very good Arizona defense. The running backs averaged under four yards per carry on the day, which isn’t good, but once the switch at quarterback was made, they did a better job creating holes for Bell. Grade: B
Defensive Line- The defense, while they gave up 469 yards of total offense, held the high-powered Arizona offense to only 13 points. A lot of that had to do with holding the Cardinals to just 55 rushing yards and just a 2.8 average. Cam Heyward was very good once again. Grade: B+
Linebackers- James Harrison’s forced fumble changed the game and Lawrence Timmons made an athletic interception. Arthur Moats also made a big play on a third-and-two play that resulted in a two-yard loss. It was a solid all around day for the linebacking core. Grade: A-
Secondary-Carson Palmer had three completions of at least 42 yards and threw for 421 yards, which was the most against the Steelers since 2013. Yet while they gave up plenty of big plays, the Steelers kept the Cardinals out of the end zone. Mike Mitchell had his best game of the season with a game-clinching interception and a fumble recovery. Grade: B-
Special Teams- Jordan Berry had a 79-yard punt, but one of the heroes of the day was kicker Chris Boswell, who in his second NFL game knocked down four big field goal. Grade: A
Coaching-Give the coaching staff credit. They won a game they probably shouldn’t have on paper with their third-string quarterback and backup left tackle playing major minutes. Keith Butler’s defense continues to force turnovers, which is huge. My one knock is that the decision to go for two, instead of kicking the extra point to put yourself up by a field goal, could have proven costly. Grade: B
Photo Credit- USA Today Sports