How painful was that Sunday night game to watch as a Steeler fan. All the hallmarks of "Steeler Football" were sorely lacking in this one. Unable to establish a consistent running game, our Steeler D lit up for 39 points and unbelievably they didn't give up more.
New England had its way with the Steelers. Being such a key prime-time matchup between two AFC heavyweights, the Steelers may have proven tonight they belong back in the middleweight division.
Here's how I viewed the unit performances:
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 387 yards, three touchdowns and a costly pick-six. If only the defense had made some plays, maybe this could have been a big Steeler victory.
Running Back: C
Despite the lack of an offensive line tonight, the running game made some plays. Unfortunately the Steelers fell behind and had to abandon the running game.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: C
Once Hines Ward left the game after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit (that was not flagged by the way), the wide receivers seemed to forget how to catch passes or run routes until the game was out of reach. Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders started making some big catches late in this game. If only they had helped convert some of those red-zone opportunities early, this game could have turned out differently.
Offensive Line: D
Unable to clear running lanes and provide passing protection for Ben Roethlisberger, this line clearly misses Max Starks, Chris Kemoeatu and Willie Colon. The line was pathetic tonight. Trai Essex needs to be flipping burgers somewhere. The only reason they didn't get an F is because somehow, some way, Roethlisberger managed to throw for almost 400 yards.
Defensive Front Seven: F
They failed to generate pressure on Tom Brady, getting ZERO sacks. If you can't do that, then what happened to the secondary is what occurs. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis had 87 yards and could have had more if the Patriots actually tried to run the clock out.
Do I really need to explain this one? William Gay was played like a harp all night long. Absolutely horrible display by this unit. A rookie tight end had three touchdowns against Gay. If I could give them more than a fail, I would. At this point, surely some of the backups can play better than William Gay.
Special Teams: F
If you can't even make a 26-yard field goal, you deserve a failing grade. Granted Emmanuel Sanders had some decent returns and Dan Sepulveda was alright, but Jeff Reed has possibly worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Short kickoffs and missed field goals aren't going to do anything to boost your job security. There were several opportunities to try and recover an onside kick, but they could not do it.
There were no defensive adjustments to the Patriots' line of attack, and there was the matter of giving up 39 points from the best scoring defense in the league. New England gave the rest of the league a big blueprint on how to defeat Pittsburgh. This was the same Patriots team that got crushed last week by Cleveland. Twice this season the Steelers have lost to teams that got spanked by Cleveland. That's clearly a coaching fail.