During the game, some perform well, while others fall short of the standard. This is where the Winners and Losers column comes in. After the game, when the dust settles, we decipher who falls into which category.
This was such a strange game all around, the article is hardly as robust as it usually is, mainly because I found it difficult to pinpoint players who stood out as playing well and those who played poorly.
As always, feel free to comment on the list in the comment section below. Be part of the conversation!
Stat Line: 19 rushes, 142 yards, 2 receptions, 30 yards
What a better place to start than with the rookie running back who torched New England all night. I loved the game plan with Samuels, more on that later, and giving him the misdirection plays which were so successful and maximized his skill set. He may have never been a between the tackles type back in college, but he sure looked the part in Week 15. I look forward to a James Conner/Jaylen Samuels two-headed monster in the coming weeks.
Stat Line: 12 total tackles, 8 solo, 2 PDs, 1 INT
People might forget, but Haden missed the Week 15 game last year when the Patriots won in Heinz Field. Don’t think for a second he forgot that, and took advantage of his opportunities on Sunday. Haden was always around the ball, and his interception was the turning point in the game. You don’t get many red-zone turnovers off Tom Brady, but Haden did just that...and it wasn’t an easy pick either. Great game for No. 23.
Stat Line: 3 catches, 65 yards, 4 targets
If you had James Washington as the player who would lead the the Steelers in receiving after the Patriots game, please raise your hand. I can’t speak for everyone, but I sure didn’t expect that to take place, but this is what fans have been waiting to see from Washington. All preseason, and at training camp, the rookie wide receiver made play after play. It may have taken him a while, but the hope is he is coming into his own at just the right time. He made two huge plays to help the winning effort Sunday.
Stat Line: 4 catches on 4 targets, 20 yards
It was good to see Rogers back on the field, and although his stat line certainly doesn’t look amazing, he made big plays when it mattered. His first catch was a key first down conversion on the opening drive of the game, and he added three more grabs as the game progressed. Rogers didn’t just return, he came back ready to play. The Steelers now have a wide array of weapons at their disposal moving forward.
Stat Line: 1 sack given up, 158 yards rushing, averaging 6.3 yards per carry
Ben Roethlisberger was under duress at times, but the Steelers’ offensive line had a dominating performance against a defensive front they should have been dominant against. Last week the team didn’t commit to the run, and was stuffed when they did, and Oakland’s rush defense is awful. This week, with a lot on the line, the Steelers averaged 6.3 yards per carry on the ground. Talk about imposing your will.
Stat Line: 3 tackles, 3 solo, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 3 QB hits
Watt is turning into a game-changer, and although his lone sack doesn’t look like a huge performance, he was all over the field vs. New England. He may have only gotten to Brady once, but he was hitting the quarterback and had several near misses. Watt is refining his skill, and could be the next great linebacker in the making for the black-and-gold.
Stat Line: Huge win with back against the wall
Some bemoaned the fact the Steelers had to host the Patriots coming off three straight losses, but no team would get the attention of the Steelers more so than the Patriots. The coaching staff put together a great game plan on both sides of the ball, and when the defense holds the Patriots to one touchdown in 60 minutes, job well done. In fact, if it weren’t for the blown coverage on the Patriots’ first drive, this was about as dominating a performance as we’ve seen from the defense. Randy Fichtner called a very smart game, sometimes a little over cautious, but a very smart game. The result — a ‘W’.
Heinz Field Crowd
Stat Line: Place was packed and rockin’
If you’ve never been to Heinz Field for a game it is tough to describe, but when Heinz Field starts rocking it matters. When the game was on the line, the crowd as a huge factor. Throw in the false starts and you can give yourselves a pat on the back Heinz Field crowd. Job well done.
Stat Line: 1-2 FGs, missed 32 yard attempt, 2-2 XP
You just can’t leave points on the field. I know he made the 48-yard kick to give the Steelers a 7 point cushion, but you just can’t miss 32 yard field goals against a team like the Patriots. They got away with one, but there will be little margin for error in Week 16 when the Steelers travel to play the Saints.