After perhaps their most embarrassing effort in franchise history just one week ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers responded with one of their better efforts of the 2013 season on both sides of the ball Sunday in a 23-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
While they were facing a rookie quarterback in E.J. Manuel who looked rusty and didn’t present much of a challenge, a win is a win for a team desperate for them at this point in the season.
For a change, there were a lot of good things to breakdown out of this game.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the Steelers graded out.
Quarterback: The numbers weren’t great for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, completing 18-of-30 passes for 204 yards, but he had a pretty solid afternoon leading a balanced offensive attack. He shook off an early interception and led a nice second quarter touchdown drive which culminated in a pretty fade pass to Jerricho Cotchery. It would have been nice to see a few more touchdowns, especially when presented with golden field position late in the game, but overall it was a solid afternoon. Grade: B
Running Backs: The Steelers rushed for 136 yards in the win, 99 coming in the first half which included a 25-yard run from Emmanuel Sanders. While the likes of Le’Veon Bell, Felix Jones and Jonathan Dwyer didn’t put up great individual numbers, they all did good things. Bell gained only 2.6 yards per carry though even though he made a couple of plays in the passing game. I’m also continuing to like what Dwyer is doing on third down. Grade: B-
Wide Receivers: Cotchery continues to impress but Antonio Brown had another big day with six catches for 104 yards, most of which being impactful catches. Other than that though, the likes of Sanders and Heath Miller were next to invisible in the passing game. Grade: B-
Offensive Line: It was a decent performance for the offensive line, though far from a great one. Mike Adams did some nice things as an extra run blocker and while the Steelers were committed to running the football, they couldn’t do so late in the game despite starting in the red zone twice. Big Ben was sacked another four times. Grade: C
Defensive Line: Cam Heyward looked good again and had one of the Steelers three sacks to go along with six tackles. In addition they slowed down the NFL’s seventh best rushing attack. The Bills did run for 99 yards, but C.J. Spiller was limited to just 23 yards on eight carries. Grade: B
Linebackers: Lawrence Timmons looked very good and rookie Jarvis Jones finally got to the quarterback. But the important thing here is that they kept Buffalo out of the end zone until a meaningless touchdown late in the game. In addition the Bills had only 227 yards of total offense. A much better performance all the way around. Grade: A-
Secondary: Manuel completed 22-of-39 passes for 155 yards and did not have a completion longer than 23 yards. Taking away the big play was huge for this defense. I was particularly impressed by William Gay, who made plays in both the passing and running game, finishing with a team-high 11 tackles. Ryan Clark also got an interception, which is always earth shattering news with this defense. Grade: A
Special Teams: Punter Mat McBriar struggled at times kicking into the wind, but the special teams made some big plays, most notably Brown’s two long punt returns. Kicker Shaun Suisham also knocked down three field goals. Grade: B+
Coaching: The Steelers coaching staff probably needed this more than anyone on the team. All three units bounced back nicely and got the Steelers a win. That’s really all that matters. Grade: A
Photo Credit: Steelers.com