Steelers Report Card/Week 11: Champs to Chumps in A Few Short Months

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IINovember 22, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers tries to avoid a sack in NFL game action against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on November 22, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The Chiefs defeated the Steelers 27-24.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 27-24 overtime defeat against the Kansas City Chiefs (the Kansas City friggin' Chiefs?!) on Sunday afternoon:

1. My analysis rubbed a few people wrong last week, but be honest here, did the defending champs do anything to prove me wrong? Nope.

Ever since Week Two, when they somehow lost to an inferior Chicago Bears team, the Steelers have had the look of underachievers this season. You mean they can’t beat a crummy 2-and-7 team that hadn’t won a home game in more than one year? Based on talent and experience, this one should have been over before the Fat Lady started to loosen her vocal cords.  

Look, no team wins every game, but it should be prepared and focused and play to its potential. From penalties to dropped passes, blown assignments to missed tackles, it’s crystal clear that the Steelers are content to be one-year wonders, not repeat champions. 

2. So head coach Mike Tomlin axed linebacker Arnold Harrison to send a message to the special teams, huh? Well, it sunk in for about 16 seconds—or the time it took rookie Jamaal Charles to run 97 big ones on the first kickoff. C’mon, how pathetic is that?

Get this: The guy who replaced Harrison (rookie linebacker Donovan Woods) was guilty of a penalty that cost his team 33 yards on a punt return.

What I want to know is, what has to happen for a coach to get fired? Not that I would ever name names, special teams coach Bob Ligashesky.

3. One more time: Boot the ball out of bounds on kickoffs already.

If the Steelers had done so the last two weeks, they would have gained 19 yards in field position and 13 points on the scoreboard. Plus, the risk of injury would have been taken out of the equation.

I know, it’s the sissy way out. So what? As Herman Edwards would say, "Helloooo, you play to win the game."

4. Why, oh, why didn’t the replay officials take a look at the pass that Ike Taylor may or may not have intercepted in overtime?

Taylor had control of the ball after he hit the ground and didn’t lose control until after he rolled over with it in his hands. The sequence was too iffy, too critical to be ignored completely.

5. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went down with another head injury, this one in overtime, and you have to wonder how many more of those he can take in his career. 

More good news: The next game is against a desperate Baltimore Ravens team that is bent on payback for last season. 

6. This is all you need to know about the Bruce Arians, offensive genius: On third-and-2, one first down short of field-goal range, he calls on fullback Mewelde Moore to run a pitch sweep to the right side.  

Of course. Why would you want Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall to run wide when you can have the slowest back available do it, right?

7. The defense doesn’t get off the hook either.

After the Steelers took a 24-17 lead midway through the fourth period, the Chiefs drove 91 yards in eight plays. Heck, they made it look so easy, I thought Len Dawson had made a comeback or something.

On the Chris Chambers 61-yard reception in overtime, several players said they didn't receive the play call from the sidelines until it was too late, but Tomlin steadfastly denied it later.

Never mind the same page. This team doesn't read from the same book.

8. The offense totaled 515 yards, but that doesn't include 68 yards lost in interception returns. Or yards 55 yards lost in penalties. Or 14 yards lost in sacks.

The Steelers sure beat the heck out of the Steelers, I'd say.

9. Now that the season is kaput, it’s not too early to discuss the 2010 draft.

The early want list: defensive tackle, guard, offensive tackle, cornerback, running back and placekicker.

10. Hey, look, the Ravens took the opening kickoff to the house already! (Borrowed from last week.)



The Grades


Offense regulars


WR Hines Ward: B

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

          Season average: B


LT Max Starks: D

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

          Season average: C


LG Chris Komoeatu: B

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

          Season average: C+


C Justin Hartwig: C

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

          Season average: C+


RG Trai Essex: C

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

          Season average: C


RT Willie Colon: D

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

          Season average: C+


TE Heath Miller: D

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

          Season average: B


WR Santonio Holmes: C

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

          Season average:  C+


WR Mike Wallace: D

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

          Season average: B  


QB Ben Roethlisberger: A

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

          Season average: B


RB Rashard Mendenhall: A

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

          Season average: C+


RB Mewelde Moore: C

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

          Season average: B


RB Willie Parker: B

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

Season average: C




Defense regulars


LE Travis Kirschke: DNP

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

Season average: C+


NT Casey Hampton: A

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

          Season average: B


RE Brett Keisel: B

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

          Season average: B+


LOLB Lamarr Woodley: A

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

          Season average: C


LILB James Farrior: C

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

Season average: B


LILB Keyaron Fox: C

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

Season average: C+


RILB Lawrence Timmons: A

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

          Season average: B


ROLB James Harrison: A

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

          Season average: B+


LCB William Gay: D

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

          Season average: C


RCB Ike Taylor: A

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

          Season average: B


SS Troy Polamalu: INC

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

          Season average: A


FS Ryan Clark: D

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

Season average: B



Special teams regulars


PK Jeff Reed: B

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

          Season average: C+


P Daniel Sepulveda: B

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

          Season average: B+


KR Stefan Logan: B

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

          Season average: C+


PR Stefan Logan: B

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

          Season average: C





HC Mike Tomlin: F

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

          Season average: C+


OC Bruce Arians: C

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

          Season average: C+


DC Dick LeBeau: B

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

          Season average: B+