This one almost turned into one of the most disappointing losses in Pittsburgh Steelers franchise history. Cincinnati was within about 13 yards from handing the Steelers their worst blown lead in the franchise's history. Luckily, the Steelers found enough grit and resolve to hold them out of the end zone and earn a hard fought "W" on the road.
Let's see how the team did.
Ben Roethlisberger was making plays down the field under pressure most of the day, and his receivers were dropping more than their fair share of passes all day long. He gets a lower grade though because of the stupid interception he threw which gave Cincinnati new life while down by 13 points. It almost came back to bite the Steelers tonight.
Running Back: A
Rashard Mendenhall helped burn the clock with seven rushes for 43 yards midway through the fourth quarter and pushed his rushing total to 99 yards on the day. Given that he had to earn most of the yards on his own, this was a great day for the Steeler's starting running back. He also added 31 yards on three catches.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C-
Mike Wallace had five catches for 110 yards, once again showing his big play ability, but the receivers as a whole were dropping a lot of passes tonight. Hines Ward fumbled and lost the ball in the second quarter. Ward then got credit for a touchdown later in the same quarter that was not a touchdown. Luckily, Cincinnati chose not to review the call which likely ended up being the difference in the game. Not a banner day overall for this group.
Offensive Line: B-
Given the fact Chris Kemoeatu and Maurkice Pouncey were injured for good portions of this game, I think the Steelers did a fairly decent job in their pass blocking and on some of their running plays as well. There were some mistakes to be sure, but overall, the unit got the job done today.
Defensive Front Seven: A
These guys were all over the Bengals and Carson Palmer the entire game. Four sacks, and they held Cedric Benson to 54 yards rushing. James Harrison was also involved in the key final defensive play to finally seal the game.
This grade would have been a lot worse if the Bengals had managed to score the go ahead touchdown on that final drive. Ike Taylor only allowed one catch to Chad Ochocinco on the day, so he definitely did his job effectively. The problem was William Gay and Bryant McFadden and whoever else was called upon to cover Terrell Owens.
Owens came up big for the Bengals with 10 catches for 141 yards and two TD's. His leadership on the field trying to rally the troops was quite evident, as opposed to Ochocinco who seemed to want to cry and pout all night long because he wasn't getting his way.
Special Teams: B+
Jeff Reed nailed a huge 53-yard field goal but also missed a kick that would have effectively iced the game. A few of his kickoffs were shot and allowed some decent returns for the Bengals.
Emmanuel Sanders continues to show great special teams presence both as a returner and also as a tackler. He caused the fumble on the opening kickoff which set the tone early for this match. He deserves some recognition early on this year for all he is doing.
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