Steelers Report Card/Week 16: Humble Pie Is Needed Here, Not Playoffs

Paul LadewskiCorrespondent IIDecember 28, 2009

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 27: LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers disrupts the throwing arm of Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens on December 27, 2009 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 23-20. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Here's my take on the Steelers' 23-20 victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon:

1. The Steelers are still in the playoff hunt, but don't count on it. Too much has to happen in the final week of the season, not the least of which is a victory against the Dolphins in Miami. Would it surprise anybody if the Steelers put themselves out of their misery?

Even if the Steelers make the cut somehow, they're one and done. Too much age, too many weaknesses, not enough leadership. Besides, any team that loses to the Chicago Bears, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns doesn't deserve to be in the tournament.

Better to watch the playoffs on television, I say. A large dose of humility wouldn't hurt the organization one bit. In fact, if it motivates the higher-ups to address some chronic needs in the off-season, then it could be the best thing that happened this season.

2. The league did the Steelers no favors when it moved the Cincinnati Bengals-New York Jets game to an 8:30 p.m. start on Sunday.

If the New England Patriots clinch the No. 3 seed in the conference with a victory against the Houston Texans in the afternoon, then the Bengals will be assured of the No. 4 seed and rest several starters as a result.

Think the Who Deys have forgotten the final game of the 2006 season, when the Steelers knocked them out of the playoffs? Don't think so.

3. If there's one player who hasn't allowed the Super Bowl victory or a fat contract to affect his helmet size, then James Harrison is the guy. The defensive end played with one arm because of a biceps injury and still made four tackles and forced one fumble.  

Then again, if I had to answer to his mama, then I'd bring it every week, too.

4. After Ravens wide receiver Derrick Mason dropped a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, the first thing I could think of was: Did Limas Sweed get traded?

5. Mason was so wide open that Deshea Townsend barely was a in the same zip code. So much for him as a starter again.

Townsend has had a nice career for himself, but it’s painful to watch the ancient cornerback attempt to play pass defense. He’s not a cover guy anymore. He's a safety now. That's the only position that he should play, if he plays at all.

6. Then again, ill-advised personnel decisions are no small reason for the Steelers' predicament right now.

Take defensive end Ziggy Hood, for instance.

The Steelers like rookies to earn their keep, and for months we were told that Hood wasn't experienced enough to be on the field. Meanwhile, the veterans wheezed through one fourth quarter after another.

Well, Hood sure looks ready to me. He had two tackles, one sack, recovered a fumble, and gave the pass rush the kind of lively legs that it could have used earlier this season.

7. The flip side is feature back Rashard Mendenhall, who has been given too much responsibility in his second season.    

Or to put it another way, any guy who drops a sure touchdown pass and loses a fumble in the same game deserves to sit for a while, regardless of how much the head coach likes him.

8. Ben Roethlisberger went down four more times. That's 47 for the season. Only Aaron Rodgers (50) has been sacked more often.

I hate it when a lousy quarterback wrecks a great offensive line.

9. I thought scatback Stefan Logan would have taken one to the house by now, but no way should the guy be considered a disappointment.

The last time a Steelers player averaged as many as 26.0 yards per kickoff return and 8.0 yards per punt return was Jon Staggers in the 1971 season.

Not only would I offer Logan a contract for next season, but I would occasionally play him on third down, as well.

10. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley had another monster game—seven tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble—and pretty much treated the Ravens like Ray Lewis did the Steelers all those years.

Woodley leads the team with 11.5 sacks. Think how many he would have if had showed up the first month of the season.       


The Grades:

Offense Regulars

WR Hines Ward: B

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

          Season average: B

LT Max Starks: D

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

          Season average: C

LG Chris Komoeatu: DNP

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

          Season average: C

C Justin Hartwig: D

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

          Season average: C+

RG Trai Essex: D

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

          Season average: D+

RT Willie Colon: F

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

          Season average: C

TE Heath Miller: B

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

          Season average: C+

WR Santonio Holmes: B

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

          Season average:  B

WR Mike Wallace: A

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

          Season average: C+  

QB Ben Roethlisberger: B

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

          Season average: B+

RB Rashard Mendenhall: F

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

          Season average: C+

RB Mewelde Moore: INC

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

          Season average: C+

RB Willie Parker: B

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

Season average: C

Defense Regulars

LE Travis Kirschke: B

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

          Season average: C+

NT Casey Hampton: C

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

          Season average: B

RE Brett Keisel: C

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

          Season average: B

LOLB LaMarr Woodley: A

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

          Season average: C+

LILB James Farrior: B

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

          Season average: C+

LILB Keyaron Fox: C

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

          Season average: C+

RILB Lawrence Timmons: D

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

          Season average: B

ROLB James Harrison: A

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

          Season average: B+

LCB William Gay: C

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

          Season average: D+

RCB Ike Taylor: A

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

          Season average: C+

SS Tyrone Carter: C

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

          Season average: C+

FS Ryan Clark: B

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

Season average: B


Special Teams Regulars

PK Jeff Reed: A

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

          Season average: B

P Daniel Sepulveda: C

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

          Season average: B

KR Stefan Logan: A

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

          Season average: C+

PR Stefan Logan: A

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

          Season average: C



HC Mike Tomlin: C

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

          Season average: C

OC Bruce Arians: B

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

          Season average: C

DC Dick LeBeau: C

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

          Season average: C+