Pittsburgh Steelers

Ravens vs. Steelers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Pittsburgh

Curt PopejoyContributor IOctober 21, 2013

Ravens vs. Steelers: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Pittsburgh

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

    It's always easier to hand out grades after a win. And it is even sweeter to hand out those grades after a win over a hated rival in a division showdown. 

    Beating the Baltimore Ravens was a huge step for the Pittsburgh Steelers in terms of righting the ship on the season, and it was a team effort for certain.

    But that's not to say everything was perfect, because there were some performances that were less than perfect. Nevertheless, the Steelers had exceptional performances out of the majority of their roster, and the grades will reflect that.

    So, with that, let's hand out some grades.

    *All stats provided by ESPN.com.

Quarterback

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    Vincent Pugliese/Getty Images

    Ben Roethlisberger: A

    Sometimes it's not about what you do, it's about what you don't do. Roethlisberger had a very modest game, going 17-of-23 for 160 yards and one touchdown. That's well below the type of performances he's been having.

    He still gets an "A," however, as he didn't turn the football over and worked very well within the plan of attack offensive coordinator Todd Haley had in mind. 

Running Backs

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    Le'Veon Bell: A

    Bell was the star on offense this week. He finished with 93 yards on 19 carries, but it was more than the numbers. He showed that not only is he healthy, but that he has a rare package of skills for a man his size.

    Going forward, Bell will carry the load for this run game, and the future looks very bright.

Wide Receivers

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    Antonio Brown: A-

    It is becoming pretty common for Brown to have big games this year. In fact, by his standards, six catches for 50 yards is probably something of a disappointment. 

    Sure, Brown could have had more yards, or a touchdown, but when you consider he was only targeted seven times for the game, his numbers are impressive. He worked within the system and made some pivotal catches.

     

    Jerricho Cotchery: A-

    Good to see Cotchery back in the mix on offense on Sunday. He was targeted four times and answered with four catches. Can't ask for much more than that.

Offensive Line

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    Kelvin Beachum, Offensive Tackle: B

    Beachum is a fascinating guy. He's a more instinctive guard, but he's been asked to play left tackle. And on Sunday, he had to do it against a really tough Ravens defense.

    While his game wasn't perfect, he did a solid job in run-blocking and gave Roethlisberger time to make more of his throws.

     

    Guy Whimper, Offensive Tackle: B

    Who? That's right, Whimper was called into service early when starter Marcus Gilbert suffered a quadriceps injury. And he held his own for the majority of the game. No one should have expected Whimper to play perfectly, and he didn't. But all things considered, he might have earned himself more starts down the road.

     

    Fernando Velasco, Center: B-

    Velasco had a daunting task before him. There aren't many centers who win when it comes to facing defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Velasco could have folded his tent early in this game, but he played hard for 60 minutes and minimized the damage Ngata did.

     

    David DeCastro, Guard: A-

    DeCastro isn't a name that gets called much during the course of the game, but upon a closer look, it is clear that he is one of the top guards in the league. His ability to move and work in space is exceptional, and he continues to improve week after week.

Tight Ends

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    Heath Miller: C

    It's tough to ever give Heath Miller a low grade, but with only two catches on four targets and a crucial fumble that could have cost the Steelers the game, it's hard to grade him much higher.

    Miller's grade is saved by some superb run-blocking on players like linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jameel McClain.

Defensive Line

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    Defensive Line: B

    As a unit, this group gets a "B" from me. It is hard to hand out individual grades at this point, because it wasn't about the plays the front three made, but more about the plays they allowed to be made behind them.

    Fans get caught up in the box score, but when it comes to a 3-4 defensive line, it's never that simple. This group did a solid job forcing run plays back to linebackers, and it allowed the outside rushers to get singles and force Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco into hurried throws.

Linebackers

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    Lawrence Timmons: A

    It is hard to say where Timmons ranks with fans of other NFL teams, but if they haven't seen him play, they are missing out. Timmons finished Sunday's game with 17 total tackles, but after watching him play, I assumed he had even more than that.

    He's almost never out of position, rarely misses an assignment and can do anything that is asked of him.

     

    LaMarr Woodley: B+

    Woodley harassed Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco all game long. He got two hits on the Ravens QB and one sack, but he also did a nice job forcing his man into the backfield and disrupting the pocket. Woodley also had four solo tackles and even batted down a pass.

     

    Jason Worilds: B

    Worilds did a solid job starting for the injured Jarvis Jones. He showed nice speed off the edge and got pressure on Flacco.  

Defensive Backs

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    Troy Polamalu, Safety: B+

    Polamalu had a very typical game for him on Sunday. He was used in a variety of ways, but it appears the Steelers feel very comfortable using him more in and around the line of scrimmage, where he can better impact the game.

    Whether it was as a pass-rusher or run-stuffer, Polamalu was once again all over the field.  

     

    William Gay, Cornerback: B+

    Gay had a solid game in coverage and showed a ton of tenacity and effort. He is fearless and never minds sticking his nose into a run play. But on Sunday, his game was more about playing solid coverage. 

     

    Cortez Allen, Cornerback: B+

    Allen turned in another solid performance on Sunday, especially in tackling. When you play a team like the Ravens, being able to tackle well is key against a wide receiver group like Baltimore's. Allen did a nice job not letting players get behind him and tackling well.

     

    Ryan Clark, Safety: C-

    It's pretty clear Clark's coverage skills are slipping and his time with the Steelers is coming to an end. I respect all he's done for this franchise, but he has become a liability on coverage. And with a talent like rookie safety Shamarko Thomas on the roster, it might be time for a change.

     

    Shamarko Thomas, Safety: A-

    Speaking of Thomas, he had another very good game. The box score reads seven tackles, but it's really his coverage ability that impresses. He is so instinctual and absolutely fearless against bigger players. 

Special Teams

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    Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

    Shaun Suisham, Kicker: A

    Suisham continues to be the most consistent player on the roster. In Sunday's game, he hit all four of his field-goal attempts and his sole extra point attempt. If the season ended today, "Sushi" would the team MVP by a significant margin.

     

    Emmanuel Sanders, Wide Receiver: A/Felix Jones, Running Back: A

    Both Sanders and Jones get an "A" for one kick return each. Jones' return was for 42 yards, and Sanders' return was for 44 yards.

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