Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers Report Card/Week 3: D Grows Old Before Our Eyes

CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 27:  A Pittsburgh Steelers fan is pictured during the NFL game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 27, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IISeptember 28, 2009

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 23-20 defeat against the Bengals in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon:


1. There’s a fine line between experienced and past-your-prime, and this could be the season that the Steelers defense crosses it finally.

The group came up short in the last two fourth quarters, and the failures had nothing to do with effort, a little bit to do with scheme and a lot to do with a lack of speed and quickness. When the games were on the line, 30-somethings James Farrior, Brett Keisel, Aaron Smith and Deshea Townsend looked their ages all of a sudden.

It's not like the defense was on the field too long, either. The offense had the ball for 65 of a possible 120 minutes in the last two games.

Maybe it’s time for Joe Burnett, Keyaron Fox and Ziggy Hood to be on the field more often. Their young legs and big-play ability are what the unit has lacked thus far.


2. Rashard Mendenhall was benched because of poor practice habits the previous week. Bully for you, head coach Mike Tomlin. Now you can call out Santonio Holmes for indifferent play.

Just when you thought Holmes was ready to become one of the elite wide receivers in the league, Mr. Super Bowl MVP played as though his head was still at Disney World, for cripesakes.

If Holmes doesn’t run the wrong route on a blitz in the third period, then the Bengals don’t get a pick-six and Steelers World isn’t on the verge of panic today.


3. As usual, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger dismissed the mental meltdown as “a miscommunication” rather than hang Holmes out to dry. I swear, if that sort of thing had happened to Eli Manning, then he would have put on a pouty face and told his daddy.

Come to think of it, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Big Ben to throw a big hissy fit once in awhile. If any player has the street cred to do it, then he’s the one.


4. Strange how successful Roethlisberger can be in the pocket when he has at least three seconds to set up and throw the ball, isn’t it?


5. Anyone who wants to jump on the Mike Wallace bandwagon should do so in a hurry, because only a limited number of seats are available.

The rookie has been the most consistent wide receiver on the team thus far.


6. Anyone who wants to jump off the Limas Sweed bandwagon...Sorry, if you were goofy enough to jump on that thing, then you’re on your own, pal.


7. Memo to o-coordinator Bruce Arians: There is no rule that says you cannot throw deep to the same receiver more than once in the same game.

No, really. Honest. Cross my heart and hope to die.


8. I have no problem with the decision to call a play on fourth-and-4 at the Bengals’ 35-yard-line late in the first half. I have a big problem that Max Starks got beat off the edge and blew up the play. I have an even bigger problem that the defense gave up 49 yards and a field goal in the next 66 seconds.


9. It’s obvious that commish Roger Goodell and his posse have put a bulls-eye on the back of Hines Ward this season. He was called for two more penalties, one of which was legit.

As for the pick play on which Ward was flagged, that’s the kind of incidental contact that the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots have turned into an art form over the years. I wonder, if he were named Marvin Harrison, would the call have been made then?


10. Paging LaMarr Woodley! Paging LaMarr Woodley! Your season has started!


The grades:


Offense regulars


WR Hines Ward: C

          Weekly grades: B/B/C

          Season average: B-


LT Max Starks: C

          Weekly grades: B/F/C

          Season average: C-


LG Chris Komoeatu: B

          Weekly grades: D/C/B

          Season average: C


C Justin Hartwig: B

          Weekly grades: F/C/B

          Season average: C-


RG Trai Essex: C

          Weekly grades: C/B/C

          Season average: C+


RT Willie Colon: C

          Weekly grades: D/B/C

          Season average: C


TE Heath Miller: B

          Weekly grades: A/B/B

          Season average: B+


WR Santonio Holmes: F

          Weekly grades: A/D/F

          Season average:  C-


WR Mike Wallace: A

          Weekly grades: B/C/A

          Season average: B  


QB Ben Roethlisberger: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/A

          Season average: A-


RB Willie Parker: B

          Weekly grades: D/B/B

          Season average: C+


RB Mewelde Moore: B

          Weekly grades: C/B/B

          Season average: C+


Defense regulars


LE Aaron Smith: C

          Weekly grades: A/B/C

          Season average: B


NT Casey Hampton: B

          Weekly grades: B/B/B

          Season average: B


RE Brett Keisel: C

Weekly grades: A/B/C

          Season average: B


LOLB LaMarr Woodley: D

          Weekly grades: D/D/D

          Season average: D


LILB James Farrior: D

          Weekly grades: B/A/D

Season average: B-


RILB Keyaron Fox: C

          Weekly grades: B/B/C

          Season average: B-


RILB Lawrence Timmons: C

          Weekly grades: DNP/B/C

          Season average: B-/C+


ROLB James Harrison: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/A

          Season average: A-


LCB William Gay: B

          Weekly grades: C/C/B

          Season average: C+


RCB Ike Taylor: A

          Weekly grades: C/B/A

          Season average: B


SS Tyrone Carter: B

          Weekly grades: C/D/B

          Season average: C


SS Troy Polamalu: DNP

          Weekly grades: A/DNP/DNP

          Season average: A


FS Ryan Clark: A

          Weekly grades: B/B/A

Season average: B+


Special teams regulars


PK Jeff Reed: C

          Weekly grades: B/F/C

          Season average: C-


P Daniel Sepulveda: A

          Weekly grades: A/A/A

          Season average: A


KR Stefan Logan: A

          Weekly grades: B/D/A

          Season average: B-


PR Stefan Logan: C

          Weekly grades: C/C/C

          Season average: C




HC Mike Tomlin: D

          Weekly grades: B/C/D

          Season average: C


OC Bruce Arians: C

          Weekly grades: C/D/C

          Season average: C-


DC Dick LeBeau: C

          Weekly grades: A/B/C

          Season average: B

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