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

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistDecember 23, 2012

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

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz field Sunday in an AFC North showdown that propelled the Bengals to the postseason, and subsequently ended the Steelers season and playoff hopes. 

    Let's take a look at final player grades and a full report card for each Steelers unit after the loss to the Bengals. 

    Final: Bengals 13, Steelers 10. 


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    It's hard to knock Roethlisberger for his performance against the Bengals. He threw for 220 yards, one touchdown and two costly interceptions. 

    While it's not the best performance of his career, Roethlisberger was under constant pressure all day and was hit numerous times because of his offensive line's ineptitude. 

    Roethlisberger was not perfect, but neither was his offensive line, running game or coaching staff. 

Running Backs

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    The Pittsburgh running backs simply did not do enough against the Bengals to forge an offensive attack that could defeat the Bengals.

    Jonathan Dwyer was running hard early in the game, but ended up only tallying 39 yards. Rashard Mendenhall was a nice surprise, as he notched 50 yards on 11 carries.

    At the end of the day, the mediocrity of the running backs cost the Steelers the game as it made the offense one dimensional. 

Wide Receivers

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    For the Steelers, the best player on offense was wide receiver Antonio Brown. He was able to haul in five passes for 97 yards, including a 60-yard bomb from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, which was the only offensive touchdown on the day.

    Mike Wallace and Emmaunel Sanders were both held in check with only one catch, mostly as a result of the horrible offensive line giving Roethlisberger no time to get them the ball. 

Tight Ends

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    Heath Miller was the only other productive offensive player for the Steelers against the Bengals. He was Ben Roethlisberger’s main safety valve each time he found himself under pressure.

    Miller was mostly used to stay in and block, but he managed to produce in a positive manner with three catches for 45 yards. He would unfortunately leave the game late with what appears to be a serious knee injury. 

Offensive Line

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    The offensive line was the worst offender in the team’s loss to the Bengals Sunday. It routinely allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be hit, which kept him on the run and unable to run a proper offense.

    The man who appeared to struggle the most was rookie guard David DeCastro, as he was routinely beat by Geno Atkins and Co.

    As a result of the horrendous play, the running game was unable to get going either. This allowed the Bengals to rush the passer at will, which the line simply couldn’t handle.

    Had the line played well, the Steelers could have won. Instead, the offense was one dimensional and ineffective in everything in attempted. 

Defensive Line

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    In what should not come as a surprise, the defensive line for Pittsburgh was dominant against Cincinnati. Casey Hampton and Co. limited the Bengals to under 50 yards rushing. It also consistently swallowed up enough blockers, allowing the linebackers to get to quarterback Andy Dalton.

    The defensive line flustered Dalton all day long, which allowed the Steelers to dictate the flow of the game. Brett Keisel notched 1.5 sacks and made those around him better.

    It was not the best unit for the Pittsburgh defense, but the line was certainly the catalyst for success. 


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    Pittsburgh is known for its elite linebacker play, and Sunday against the Bengals was not an exception.

    Lawrence Timmons was the standout of the group as he recorded 10 total tackles and two sacks. Larry Foote and James Harrison also had big days, whether it was stuffing the run or effectively rushing the passer.

    The linebackers were the bright spot for the Steelers. With the unit playing so effectively, it made the jobs of the other units that much easier. 

Defensive Backs

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    Led by Troy Polamalu, the secondary for Pittsburgh shined despite the absence of some key elements thanks to injury.

    Cortez Allen and Keenan Lewis stepped up and had huge days in limiting the production of players such as A.J. Green. Both have had issues in the past few weeks, but managed to step up and make crucial plays at certain points in the game.

    In not so shocking news, Polamalu had another great game. He’s been slowly returning to his old self after missing nine games, so his performance all over the field against the Bengals was good to see. He compiled eight total tackles and a sack.

    It was the secondary that gave up the final pass to A.J. Green, which allowed the Bengals to kick the game-winning field goal. Despite this, it’s hard to knock the secondary after a stellar effort. 

Special Teams

9 of 10


    There was not a lot to like about the Steelers special teams against the Bengals. There were no big plays to speak of, although to be fair there were no major mistakes either. 

    The unit was unable to win the field position battle most of the day, which allowed Cincinnati to consistently start in favorable position. 

    The black eye for the unit was Suisham's two missed field goals, which had a major impact considering the team ended up losing by just three points. 


10 of 10


    Mike Tomlin had an up and down day against the Bengals, but his inability to get his offense rolling and late-game mistakes are what will be held against him for the foreseeable future. 

    Tomlin and his staff had no answer when it came to figuring out how to get the offensive to be productive. He also elected to kick a long field goal near the end of the game, which resulted in the Bengals taking over in a great spot. Cincinnati would go on to later kick the game-winning field goal. 

    As one of the main reasons the Steelers lost, Tomlin and his staff have a lot to answer for moving forward.