Jets vs. Steelers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Pittsburgh

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IISeptember 16, 2012

Jets vs. Steelers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Pittsburgh

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers' defense took over the game and led a 27-10 victory over the New York Jets.

    New York's offense could not put up impressive numbers for a second consecutive week while Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' took advantage of their opportunities to score. 

    Both teams are now 1-1 through their first two games. Here is a complete report guard of the Steelers' players. 

Quarterbacks

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    Ben Roethlisberger — A-

    Roethlisberger was extremely efficient, completing 24 of his 31 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and was the driving force behind a  excellent offensive performance for the Steelers. He refused to go down in the face of pressure, and extended drives when the team needed him to do so.

Runningbacks

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    Isaac Redman — B-

    Redman rushed for just 25 yards on 12 carries, and would have had a much lower grade if not for an excellent performance in the fourth quarter. He also scored the touchdown to put the game out of reach for the Jets.

    Jonathan Dwyer — B-

    Dwyer put up nearly identical numbers to Redman, gaining 28 yards on 12 carries. He did not get in the end zone, but he too ran hard in the fourth quarter to help seal the game. These two players physical running late in the game killed the clock and the Jets' chances to win the game.

    Chris Rainey — Incomplete

    Rainey received just two carries for three yards and caught one of the two passes that were thrown to him. He did not factor into the offense enough to receive a grade, but did play a part in the return game.  

Wide Receivers

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    Antonio Brown — A-

    It was clear from the start of this game that the Steelers intended to make Brown a large part of their offense. He was targeted 10 times and caught seven passes for 79 yards. The speedy wide out was dangerous when the ball was in his hands and was a constant threat to the Jets' defense. 

    Mike Wallace — A

    Wallace caught all five passes thrown to him during this game, including an incredible 37-yard catch for a touchdown in the third quarter. This was the biggest play of the game, and it took remarkable poise from Wallace to get his feet down in bounds.

    Emmanuel Sanders — B-

    Sanders was unable to be a major factor in this game. He caught three passes for 33 yards and did not use his excellent speed and agility to make any big plays. 

    Jerico Cotchery — Incomplete

    Against his former team, Cotchery caught just one pass for six yards and did not play an important role during the game. 

Tight Ends

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    Heath Miller — B+

    Miller has not generated a high volume of receptions in the past couple of seasons, but he has remained a sure-handed target who excels in the red zone. He proved this against the Jets, catching all three passes thrown to him for 19 yards and a touchdown.

    Leonard Pope — Incomplete

    Pope was only targeted once in this game and was not a factor in the passing game. 

Offensive Line

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    Max Starks — B

    Starks did a serviceable job protecting Ben Roethlisberger's blind side. The Steelers' quarterback is notorious for holding onto the ball, making his offensive line's job difficult. The unit was solid against a talented Jets pass rush.

    Willie Colon —B-

    The interior of the offensive line did not effectively create holes in the running game, but  Colon did not make any glaring errors in this game. 

    Maurkice Pouncey — B+

    The All-Pro center did nothing in this game to detract from his reputation as a consistent top-class performer. The offensive line did an above-average job of picking up the New York blitzes, and this is largely due to communication and leadership from Pouncey. 

    Ramon Foster — B-

    The Steelers line will not be talked about much after this game, and that means they had a fine day. Foster and Colon did not create running holes up the middle, but they did not have any terrible mistakes either. 

    Marcus Gilbert — B

    Gilbert played well in pass protection. He was the only Steeler lineman flagged for holding in this game. This is a slight knock, but it also means that unit had a positive day. 

Defensive Line

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    Brett Keisel — A

    Defensive end in the Steelers defense requires a significant amount of guts and offers little glory. Kiesel has thrived in this role and continued to lead a Steelers' front-seven that shut down the Jets for three quarters. He finished the game with five total tackles. 

    Casey Hampton — B+

    Hampton is one of the best nose tackles in the league, and the Steelers defensive line limited the Jets running game. New York gained 90 yards on 22 carries as a team, but punted on every on of its possessions in the second half, except for the final drive—when the clock ran out before the team could score. This is a testament to Hampton and the run defense.

    Ziggy Hood — B

    Hood's contributions often do not show up on the stat sheet, and this game was no different. He recorded just one tackle, but was one of the many Steelers defenders who turned in a disciplined performance and helped the team win.

    Steve McLendon — B

    Depth along the defensive line is important, and McLendon was an effective part of the rotation. He provided quality reps and recorded two total tackles.

    Cameron Heyward — B+

    Heyward recorded the second sack of his career in this game as he too turned in a solid performance during his time on the field. 

Linebackers

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    LaMarr Woodley — A-

    Without James Harrison, Woodley was expected to play at a Pro-Bowl level. He did that in this game as he was a constant threat on the edge, recording one sack and two tackles.

    Larry Foote — B+

    Foote recorded seven total tackles and was a constant factor in the run game. He plugged up the middle and provided a sideline-to-sideline presence. 

    Lawrence Timmons — B+

    Timmons had four total tackles, one tackle for a loss and one pass defended. He continued to do a little bit of everything for the Steelers defense.

    Chris Carter — B-

    Carter filled in for James Harrison and was not a major factor in the pass rush. He finished the game with one tackle on did not hit Mark Sanchez.

    Brandon Johnson —B-

    Johnson also did not make a significant contribution during his reps, although neither he nor Carter made any costly mistakes. 

Defensive Backs

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    Ryan Clark — A

    Clark ensured that the Steelers maintained a physical presence in the secondary with Troy Polamalu out. He led the team with eight total tackles and punished Jets receivers who dared to run routes over the middle. 

    Ike Taylor — A-

    Taylor was fired up for the chance to guard former Steeler Santonio Holmes. He did a fantastic job as Holmes was targeted 11 times and recorded just three catches. 

    Ryan Mundy — B+

    Mundy filled in for Polamalu in this game and had a fine performance. He is obviously not the same type of dynamic playmaker, but he did record five total tackles and was an important part of the defense's excellent outing.

    Keenan Lewis — B+

    Lewis recorded three total tackles and played extremely well in coverage. The Jets wide receivers did not catch a pass in the second half until the final drive of the game, when the Steelers had already sealed a victory. 

    Cortez Allen — B

    The Jets are not known for their depth at wide receiver, but the Steelers held their opponents to just 138 yards through the air. The nickel cornerback deserves credit for this performance as well. 

Special Teams

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    Shaun Suisham — A

    Suisham received two chances to convert field goals. Both were from 45 yards out, and he knocked both through the uprights. He went three-of-three with his extra points, and the coaching staff simply cannot ask for more from a kicker.

    Drew Butler — A-

    Butler averaged 41 yards on his punts and pinned of his five kicks down inside the 20 yard line. This was another fine special teams performance. 

    Chris Rainey — B

    Rainey was unable to break off a big play in the return game. He averaged 22.5 yards on his two kickoff returns, and gained 13 yards on his only opportunity to return a punt. He made no mistakes and that was his biggest contribution to the victory. 

    Antonio Brown — Incomplete

    Brown returned just one punt in this game and earned 10 yards. This was not a significant enough contribution to earn a grade.

    DeMarcus Van Dyke — A

    Gunners rarely make a report card, but Van Dyke was responsible for the game's only turnover. He caused the Jets' Jeremy Kerley to muff a punt, and any special teams player who causes a turnovers deserves top marks. 

Coaching

10 of 10

    Mike Tomlin — A

    This was a disciplined performance from the Steelers, as they did not turn the ball over. They showed resilience in bouncing back from the Jets' touchdown on the opening drive. Pittsburgh set the tone on defense, which is exactly how Tomlin wants his team to play.

    Todd Haley — A

    Haley did a masterful job in this game. The decision to send Mike Wallace to the end zone on third and long led to the game's only big play. He also trusted his struggling running backs in the fourth quarter, and they stepped up their play to seal a victory.

    Dick LeBeau — A

    When a team shuts out its opponent in the second half, the defensive coordinator did a fantastic job with halftime adjustments. The cornerbacks were aggressive and the blitzes were perfectly timed in the third a fourth quarters.