Pittsburgh Steelers: Positional Grade Report for Win Against Indianapolis

Chris Gazze@ChrisG_PITCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2011

Pittsburgh Steelers: Positional Grade Report for Win Against Indianapolis

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    The Indianapolis Colts’ offense was no surprise for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Without Peyton Manning they had trouble moving the ball throughout the game.

    Indianapolis’ defense, however, gave the Steelers fits all night.

    Instead of a blowout, the Steelers found themselves in a tough battle behind three Ben Roethlisberger turnovers.

    Troy Polamalu came up big picking up a forced fumble caused by James Harrison and returning it for a score. Indianapolis would later answer to tie the game at 20.

    But in typical Roethlisberger form, he led the Steelers down the field to set up Shaun Suisham for a 38-yard field-goal attempt for the win.

    Suisham made it and the Steelers narrowly escaped.

    Despite holding the ball for nearly eight minutes more than the Colts and outgaining them by over 160 yards, Pittsburgh had a nail-biter.

    They will still take the win and move on to next week, but there are areas to be worried about, especially along the offensive line which suffered three injuries this evening.

Quarterback: C+

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    Roethlisberger had an outstanding first quarter, throwing for over 100 yards en route to an early 10-0 lead.

    But after this things did not come so smoothly. Despite putting up a lot of yards, Roethlisberger was unable to find the end zone.

    Roethlisberger was stripped by both Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, the second of which was returned for a touchdown. He also threw an interception.

    Roethlisberger finished 25 of 37 for 364 yards with a touchdown, an interception and two fumbles.

    Season GPA: 1.87

Running Backs: D-

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    Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman were unable to get anything going on the ground all night.

    Mendenhall did have a long run of 15 yards which made his stats look a lot better than what they actually were. He averaged 2.1 yards per carry.

    Mewelde Moore came up with a clutch catch for 22 yards and two runs for nine yards on the final drive in the fourth quarter.

    Season GPA: 1.23

Wide Receivers: A-

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    Without a running game, it was up to the Steelers receivers to step up their game and they did.
    Mike Wallace had a huge game and had an 81-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter.

    He finished the day with five receptions for 144 yards.

    Antonio Brown had a solid game as well with a couple of clutch third-down receptions. On the night, Brown had four receptions for 75 yards.

    The one down side was Emmanuel Sanders who dropped what would have been a first-down reception on a third down. He also failed to tackle the Colts defender who intercepted a Roethlisberger pass, enabling him to get a big return.

    Sanders later bounced back with a 3rd-and-18 conversion.

    Hines Ward added three catches for 17 yards.

    Season GPA: 2.80

Tight Ends: A-

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    Heath Miller got his most action of the season as he was effective over the middle of the field.

    Weslye Saunders had his first reception after the ball bounced off his hands. If he would have caught the initial pass it would have been a first down. Instead it forced a fourth down and Shaun Suisham missed the field goal.

    Miller and David Johnson had some trouble with their blocking, though, which brought their grade down from an A.

    Season GPA: 2.80

Offensive Line: F

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    The Steelers got nothing on the ground and the line suffered injuries to Marcus Gilbert and Doug Legursky.

    Robert Mathis sacked Roethlisberger and forced a fumble to set up the Colts' first score.

    Later, Jonathan Scott allowed Dwight Freeney to get a sack and a fumble which was returned for a touchdown. He also had a penalty.

    If the line got any push in the ground game the Steelers would have had an easy time with the Colts.

    Season GPA: 0.67

Defensive Line: D

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    Ziggy Hood got in the face of Kerry Collins once, but beyond this the defensive line was quiet.

    Joseph Addai was able to pick his spots and was fairly effective moving the ball on the ground and ran with ease when tying the score at 20 late in the fourth quarter.

    Simply put, they did not have the dominating performance that they had last week. Part of the problem is Aaron Smith has not played up to his usual high standard and was getting pushed off the ball.

     Season GPA: 1.67

Linebackers: C-

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    The linebackers were pretty active in defending the run, but they struggled getting to the quarterback again.

    With Collins and later Curtis Painter sitting in the pocket, the linebackers are expected to not only get to the quarterback, but put up big sack numbers.

    However, James Harrison came up with the play of the game with a fourth quarter sack of Painter which forced a fumble to set up the Steelers' go ahead score.

    Even with the big play, the overall lack of pressure and struggling against the run is what stood out.

    Season GPA: 1.57

Defensive Backs: B-

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    There was not a true threat at quarterback and the defensive backs played like it.

    Ike Taylor had a solid game against Reggie Wayne, but did get lucky when he got beat on what should have been a touchdown pass. Instead the ball was overthrown.

    William Gay allowed a couple of third-down conversions while Ryan Clark had a solid game in coverage.

    The corners then could not come up with the big plays in crunch time.

    Early on, Troy Polamalu was all over the field and nearly had two interceptions on the same drive.

    In the second half he was much quieter while sitting back in coverage, until they unleashed him in the fourth quarter.

    Polamalu picked up the fumble forced by Harrison and returned it for a touchdown. He was also inches away from making a number of other plays.

    Season GPA: 2.23

Special Teams: B

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    Daniel Sepulveda had his lowest average of the season, but was an overall non-factor.

    Antonio Brown had a big punt return that should have set up a field goal, but a penalty and a sack of Roethlisberger put them out of field-goal range. He had a second nice return of 26 yards in the fourth quarter.

    Shaun Suisham connected on field goals of 48 and 44 yards, but missed one from even closer.

    However, Suisham nailed a 38-yard field goal with only four seconds remaining to give the Steelers a 23-20 edge.

    Season GPA: 2.00

Coaching: C

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    Pittsburgh used two timeouts early in the first half and had no answer for the Colts' run defense.

    The fact that the game was as close as it was, was inexcusable.

    The Steelers need to clean up the turnovers on offense and need to score more points against a team like the Colts.

    Defensively, there were too many holes in the ground game.

    They also continue to make questionable decisions dressing only seven linemen when they have had a history of injury problems.

    Season GPA: 1.77

Study Up: What Must Improve

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    Pittsburgh is -10 in turnovers over three games. Roethlisberger has four interceptions and four fumbles. That needs to be tightened up right away.

    On defense, they need to sure up the run defense once again. Pittsburgh also has not been able to get to the quarterback or force turnovers.

    All three of these areas are concerns as they are very uncharacteristic of Pittsburgh’s defense.

    They will have a tough game against Houston next week and have plenty of areas to improve.

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