Steelers Report Card/Week 6: Minny Challenge Is Needed Here

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2009

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 18: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tries to escape the grasp of David Bowens #96 of the Cleveland Browns while trying to pass in the first half at Heinz Field on October 18, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 27-14 victory on Sunday afternoon.

1. Another beatable opponent -- the Browns are the fourth-best team in Ohio behind the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cincinnati Bearcats in that order -- another game that was closer than it should have been. Excuse me, haven't we seen this movie before?

Last season the Steelers had no choice except to maintain focus, because of their meat-grinder of a schedule. Thus far, the defending champs have yet to face a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and their uneven play has reflected as much.   

Seems to me that this team needs a challenge, and in the Minnesota Vikings, it will get one at home next weekend. The Vikings are one of four unbeatens in the league.

My guess is that the Steelers will pack their A game next time. And if they don’t, we’ll know that they’re not the stuff of repeat champions probably.  


2. Ben Roethlisberger makes a careless throw for an interception. Rashard Mendenhall carries the ball like a loaf of Butternut and puts it on the ground. Willie Parker loses control of it even before he gets hit.

Now do you know why this team can’t put away opponents in the second half?


3. Never mind Fast Willie and Rocket Rashard in the fourth quarter. Dancing Mewelde Moore is the best option for this reason: The guy has strength and leverage, and he rarely makes a mistake.


4. Don't look now, but Roethlisberger has passed for more yards than any player in the league this season. What impresses me a lot more are his 9.1 yards per attempt, also No. 1 the league.


As for those John Elway comparisons, if Big Ben could weed out one bad play each game, then he would be better than Elway, if you ask me.


5. Well, well, well, look who decided to show up for a change. None other than linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Lamarr Woodley, remember them?

Timmons and Woodley were supposed to become dependable playmakers in their third seasons, but this marked the first time that both made a difference in the same game.

If Timmons and Woodley play with any degree of consistency, it would do much to ease the loss of end Aaron Smith for the remainder of the season.


6. It’s difficult to find fault with an offense that produces 543 nets yards and 28 first downs, but for that kind of production, 27 points aren’t nearly enough.

Five-hundred-plus yards should translate into 40-plus points. Easy.


7. Where was the deep ball to rookie Mike Wallace that worked so well this season? The play should be called at least once each game if for no other reason than to keep the defense honest.


8. As for the Steelers defense, I can’t take anything that it did seriously. The Browns offense is so godawful, statistics are meaningless.

Oh, to be inside the head of Jim Brown on game days . . .


9. The Browns-Steelers rivalry would be a heckuva lot better if the Browns were the Baltimore Ravens and the Ravens were the expansion team. You know, like it should have been all along.


10. Any time the Steelers want to kick away from Joshua Cribbs is fine with me. In fact, I strongly encourage it.


The grades:

Offense regulars


WR Hines Ward: A

          Weekly grades: B/B/C/B/A/A

          Season average: B


LT Max Starks: C

          Weekly grades: B/F/C/B/C/D

          Season average: C


LG Chris Komoeatu: B

          Weekly grades: D/C/B/A/B/B

          Season average: C+


C Justin Hartwig: B

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

          Season average: C+


RG Trai Essex: C

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

          Season average: C


RT Willie Colon: B

          Weekly grades: D/B/C/A/C/B

          Season average: C+


TE Heath Miller: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/B/A/A/A

          Season average: B+


WR Santonio Holmes: A

          Weekly grades: A/D/F/C/B/A

          Season average:  C+


WR Mike Wallace: B

          Weekly grades: B/C/A/B/B/B

          Season average: B  


QB Ben Roethlisberger: B

          Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/B/B

          Season average: B+


RB Rashard Mendenhall: D

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

          Season average: B


RB Mewelde Moore: B

          Weekly grades: C/B/B/A/C/B

          Season average: B  


Defense regulars

LE Aaron Smith: DNP

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

          Season average: B


LE Travis Kirschke: B

          Weekly grades: C/B/C/C/B/B

Season average: C+


NT Casey Hampton: A

          Weekly grades: B/B/B/C/B/A

          Season average: B


RE Brett Keisel: A

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

          Season average: B


LOLB Lamarr Woodley: B

          Weekly grades: D/D/D/D/C/B

          Season average: D+


LILB James Farrior: B

          Weekly grades: B/A/C/B/C/B

Season average: B


RILB Lawrence Timmons: A

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

          Season average: B


ROLB James Harrison: B

          Weekly grades: A/B/A/A/A/B

          Season average: B+


LCB William Gay: B

          Weekly grades: C/C/B/B/B/B

          Season average: C+


RCB Ike Taylor: C

          Weekly grades: C/B/A/A/B/C

          Season average: B


SS Tyrone Carter: C

          Weekly grades: C/D/B/C/C/C

          Season average: C


SS Troy Polamalu: B

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

          Season average: B+


FS Ryan Clark: B

          Weekly grades: B/B/A/B/A/B

Season average: B+


Special teams regulars

PK Jeff Reed: B

          Weekly grades: B/F/C/A/B/B

          Season average: C+


P Daniel Sepulveda: B

          Weekly grades: A/A/A/A/B/B

          Season average: B+


KR Stefan Logan: B

          Weekly grades: B/D/A/C/B/B

          Season average: C+


PR Stefan Logan: INC

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

          Season average: D+



HC Mike Tomlin: B

          Weekly grades: B/C/D/A/C/B

          Season average: C+


OC Bruce Arians: A

          Weekly grades: C/D/C/A/B/A

          Season average: C+


DC Dick LeBeau: A

          Weekly grades: A/B/C/B/B/A

          Season average: B