Steelers Report Card/Week 5: Still No Cure for Super Hangover

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIOctober 12, 2009

DETROIT , MI - OCTOBER 11:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on while playing the Detroit Lions on October 11, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Pittsburgh won the game 28-20.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 28-20 victory against the Detroit Lions Sunday afternoon:

1. Once is an accident; twice is a trend. But what do you call three or four times? Fatal, that’s what.

Once again, the Steelers took a lead into the fourth period, and once again they had one foot over a cliff at the finish. And remember, this was against a toothless Lions team.

Anyone one who thinks the problem can be solved at the flip of a switch has chugged too much black-and-gold Kool-Aid lately. This group has too much age and too little focus to put teams away any more.

2. For the record, the Steelers haven’t had a wire-to-wire blowout since Week 17 of last season, a span of eight games. And that was against the Cleveland Browns, so it doesn’t count, right?

3. The Browns are next on the schedule, which is why safety Troy Polamalu should play on pass downs only if he tests his strained knee ligament at all.

4. The Lions converted 11 of 18 chances on third down. Draws, screens, short passes—it didn't matter what they called. Not only that, but they did it without their best player (Calvin Johnson) and best quarterback (Matthew Stafford).

5. Let's not pile on the defense for what took place in the fourth quarter.

The offense totaled one first down on 11 plays from scrimmage, only five for positive yardage. Four runs resulted in 11, minus five, eight, and minus two yards, and seven passes included one incompletion and three sacks for minus six, minus nine, and zero yards.

In other words, the o-line doesn't impose its will late in games any more, and the onus is on an aging D to protect leads as a result.

6. You don’t hear the name Bryant McFadden any more, but the veteran cornerback is missed more than anyone in the organization cares to admit.

The absence of McFadden has had a ripple effect on the depleted secondary, which is especially vulnerable on pass downs. William Gay has been a capable replacement for McFadden at the left side, but Deshea Townsend is a step down from Gay as the nickel back. And Keiwan Ratliff is another step down from Townsend in the dime package.

7. How accurate has Ben Roethlisberger been thus far? If the nine balls that the receivers dropped were completions, the quarterback would have a silly .791 completion percentage.

That doesn’t count the five balls that were caught by the other team, of course.

8. Hey, look, Big Ben gets hit at the knees—and the referees call a penalty!

9. Dang, that Heath Miller is good.

10. Circle the Nov. 15 date with the Cincinnati Bengals on your calendars. Because if the Steelers don’t win that one, they may be toast this season.

The Bengals already have victories against the Steelers at home and the Baltimore Ravens on the road, while the Steelers have yet to beat a division opponent.

The Grades

Offense Regulars

WR Hines Ward: A

Weekly grades: B/B/C/B/A

Season average: B

LT Max Starks: C

Weekly grades: B/F/C/B/C

Season average: C

LG Chris Komoeatu: B

Weekly grades: D/C/B/A/B

Season average: C+

C Justin Hartwig: B

Weekly grades: F/C/B/A/B

Season average: C+

RG Trai Essex: D

Weekly grades: C/B/C/B/D

Season average: C

RT Willie Colon: C

Weekly grades: D/B/C/A/C

Season average: C+

TE Heath Miller: A

Weekly grades: A/B/B/A/A

Season average: B+

WR Santonio Holmes: B

Weekly grades: A/D/F/C/B

Season average: C

WR Mike Wallace: B

Weekly grades: B/C/A/B/B

Season average: B

QB Ben Roethlisberger: B

Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/B

Season average: B+

RB Rashard Mendenhall: A

Weekly grades: C/B/INC/A/A

Season average: B

RB Mewelde Moore: C

Weekly grades: C/B/B/A/C

Season average: B

Defense Regulars

LE Aaron Smith: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B

Season average: B

NT Casey Hampton: B

Weekly grades: B/B/B/C/B

Season average: B

RE Brett Keisel: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B

Season average: B

LOLB Lamarr Woodley: C

Weekly grades: D/D/D/D/C

Season average: D

LILB James Farrior: C

Weekly grades: B/A/C/B/C

Season average: B

RILB Lawrence Timmons: B

Weekly grades: DNP/B/B/D/B

Season average: C+

ROLB James Harrison: A

Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/A

Season average: A

LCB William Gay: C

Weekly grades: C/C/B/B/C

Season average: C+

RCB Ike Taylor: A

Weekly grades: C/B/A/A/A

Season average: B+

SS Tyrone Carter: C

Weekly grades: C/D/B/C/C

Season average: C

SS Troy Polamalu: DNP

Weekly grades: A/DNP/DNP/DNP/DNP

Season average: A

FS Ryan Clark: B

Weekly grades: B/B/A/B/B

Season average: B

Special Teams Regulars

PK Jeff Reed: B

Weekly grades: B/F/C/A/B

Season average: C+

P Daniel Sepulveda: B

Weekly grades: A/A/A/A/B

Season average: A

KR Stefan Logan: B

Weekly grades: B/D/A/C/B

Season average: C+

PR Stefan Logan: C

Weekly grades: C/C/C/F/C

Season average: D+


HC Mike Tomlin: C

Weekly grades: B/C/D/A/C

Season average: C+

OC Bruce Arians: B

Weekly grades: C/D/C/A/B

Season average: C+

DC Dick LeBeau: B

Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B

Season average: B