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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ epic 17-10 win over the Patriots in Week 15

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after their drama-filled gem of a win against New England.

NFL: New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers has their collective backs to the wall and desperately needed a win over the New England Patriots. After three straight losses and the Ravens win over Tampa earlier, the Steelers were in grave dangerous falling out of the playoff race.

Despite my less than prestigious BTSC teaching certificate, I have to issue the necessary disclaimer. You know the story; of course, I’m not a football coach, or a teacher, but I play one in blogs and podcasts. All week, I found myself noticing just how equal the two teams actually are and that shows in their respective records. And then I realized that these teams both usually battle fiercely in tight contests. Then the game happened and judgments followed.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what count the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well.

So let’s take a look at BTSC’s early perceptions:

Offense: A-

Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t awesome, but he was great when he needed to be. 22/34 for 235 yards with 2 TDs and 2 picks thrown isn’t an amazing line, but two key third-down conversions on the game’s last drive set up a very crucial field goal. Big Ben found eight different receivers, none with more than four catches and 65 yards (James Washington). Each of those receivers came up big for the Steelers. Vanimal (Vance McDonald) and AB (Antonio Brown) scored touchdowns, while JuJu Smith-Schuster, Eli Rogers and Washington extended drives with huge grabs.

James Conner’s absence was glaring last week. This time aro7nd, the rushing attack shined bright. Stevan Ridley’s 16 yards on a mere three carries were in big spots, while Jaylen Samuels stole the show with 172 total yards.The rookie had 142 yards and averaged over 7.0 ypc. The offensive line game up two early sacks, but they protected Ben well and aided Samuels greatly.

Poll

What grade would you give the offense after the Steelers pulled off a 17-10 win over New England?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    A
    (424 votes)
  • 62%
    B
    (1030 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (173 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
1636 votes total Vote Now

Defense: A

Despite a few lapses, the defense was stellar on this day.The defensive line continued to play well with Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave and Stephon Tuitt shutting down the Patriot running game. The linebacking crew was solid. Maybe Jim Herrman’s presence was bigger than originally expected. T.J. Watt registered a sack and only three tackles, but his pressure of Tom Brady all day forced the legend into mistakes. One of those mistakes was a pivotal interception that Joe Haden miraculously pulled in. Haden and the entire secondary came up big and limited Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski from inflicting too much pain.

Poll

What grade would you give the defense after the Steelers pulled off a 17-10 win over New England?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    A
    (1067 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (493 votes)
  • 3%
    C
    (61 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
1626 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: C

Jordan Berry fell back to earth, the return game was decent and penalties were less of an issue. However, Chris Boswell’s short miss could have been costly and remains to be a major concern. Boz’ redemption kick was huge though.

Poll

What grade would you give the Special Teams after the Steelers pulled off a 17-10 win over New England?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (19 votes)
  • 17%
    B
    (275 votes)
  • 55%
    C
    (853 votes)
  • 22%
    D
    (350 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (44 votes)
1541 votes total Vote Now

Overall Grade: A

They beat the Patriots. Enough said.

Poll

What overall grade would you give the the Steelers after the very big 17-10 win over New England?

This poll is closed

  • 49%
    A
    (776 votes)
  • 47%
    B
    (740 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (44 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
1565 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: Jaylen Samuels

Honor Roll: Joe Haden, T.J. Watt, David DeCastro, Mike Tomlin...Oh hell, Everybody.