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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 31-28 loss to the Saints in New Orleans

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after their New Orleans.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Again, the Steelers didn’t receive help in the early games and desperately needed a win over the New Orleans Saints to maintain their slim lead in the AFC North race. They didn’t, and now need a miracle next week in the Cleveland/Baltimore game next along with a win over Cincy.

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: C

Ben Roethlisberger was 33 of 50 for 380 yards and threw three TD passes. He was the Ben we needed down the stretch. Antonio Brown was phenomenal with than 14 catches for 185 yards and two scores. JuJu Smith-Schuster played hurt and still had 11 receptions for 115 yards. His crucial fumble was more of a takeaway than a giveaway. The running game succumbed to the games best run defenders though and the play calling was suspect, especially the third and two that Stevan Ridley fumbled away.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steeler Offense in the Steelers 31-28 loss to New Orleans?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    A
    (102 votes)
  • 66%
    B
    (758 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (196 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (50 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (33 votes)
1139 votes total Vote Now

Defense: C

Despite holding an offense that averages 38 points-per-game at home to 31 and despite being jobbed numerous times by referees, the defensive scheme led many to scratch their heads and grab a clump or two of hair during the process. Employing linebackers on the league’s leading receiver (Michael Thomas), giving up 160 YAC and surrendering a third-and-20 late in the game is unacceptable. They did enough to win it, but still aren’t closing it out.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steelers Defense after the Steelers 31-28 loss to New Orleans?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (17 votes)
  • 25%
    B
    (283 votes)
  • 40%
    C
    (453 votes)
  • 25%
    D
    (285 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (85 votes)
1123 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: B-

Tome, the fake punt wasn’t really a ST gaffe...It was a coaching one. Nothing really stood out here good or bad, except Chris Boswell’s perfect day.

Poll

What grade would you give the Special Teams after the Steelers 31-28 loss to New Orleans?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (63 votes)
  • 50%
    B
    (497 votes)
  • 28%
    C
    (276 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (84 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (57 votes)
977 votes total Vote Now

Overall Grade: D+

In the end, great performances were done in by bad coaching decisions and bad luck. It’s most likely going to end their season way too early.

Poll

What overall grade would you give the Teams the Steelers after their 31-28 loss to New Orleans?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (21 votes)
  • 29%
    B
    (313 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (389 votes)
  • 18%
    D
    (193 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (132 votes)
1048 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: Antonio Brown

Honor Roll: Ben Roethlisberger, Morgan Burnett, T.J. Watt, Chris Boswell, Sean Davis, Cam Heyward, JuJu Smith Schuster

Detention: Mike Tomlin, Stevan Ridley, Keith Butler, Randy Fichtner