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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 16-13 Win Over Cincinnati

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after defeating the Bengals to close-out 2018.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Sure the Steelers did what they needed to do in their season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. They won. But they didn’t get the help required from the Cleveland/Baltimore game or the Indy/Tennessee jaunt. But the blame still lands on the men in the Black-and-Gold mirror. Besides the disappointing end to 2018, how do the Steelers grade-out in their final contest?

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 31 of 45 for 287 yards and threw one TD pass. Well, throw in the pick-six and he had two. Ben had less time than usual. It had less to do with his line and more to do with his receivers struggling to get it open. That shows how glaring the absence of Antonio Brown is to this offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster (5 catches/37 yards) played more pedestrian than usual, despite being targeted ten times. His TD was crucial though. James Conner looked decent in his return, going for a total of 94 yards rushing and receiving. But the offense was unimaginative again versus a bad defense.

Poll

What grade would you assign the Steelers offense after beating Cincy 16-13?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (19 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (194 votes)
  • 55%
    D
    (360 votes)
  • 11%
    F
    (75 votes)
650 votes total Vote Now

Defense: B

Although the Steelers were not facing Andy Dalton, Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert...they still gave up over 100 yards to Joe Mixon and managed no turnovers. But they allowed Jeff Driskel very little, gave up six points on two field goals and clamped down when they needed to.

Poll

What grade would you assign the Steelers defense after allowing no TDs in the 16-13 victory over Cincinnati?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (40 votes)
  • 37%
    B
    (238 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (240 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (81 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (43 votes)
642 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: B-

Once again, penalties arose on Special Teams and nothing special happened in the return game. However, Jordan Berry had to punt a lot andlanded four inside-the-20 and Matt McCrane was a perfect three-for-three on field goal attempts.

Poll

What grade would you assign the Steelers Special Teams after beating Cincy 16-13?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (42 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (277 votes)
  • 30%
    C
    (182 votes)
  • 10%
    D
    (63 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (41 votes)
605 votes total Vote Now

Overall Grade: C+

A win is a win, but this one should have been decisive and a thrashing. It wasn’t. It summed up the underachieving effort that was the Steelers 2018 season.

Poll

What overall grade would you assign the Steelers after their season finale against the Bengals

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (1 vote)
  • 4%
    B
    (29 votes)
  • 43%
    C
    (278 votes)
  • 38%
    D
    (242 votes)
  • 12%
    F
    (82 votes)
632 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: Cam Heyward

Honor Roll: James Conner, James Washington, T.J. Watt, Matt McCrane, Coty Sensabaugh Stephon Tuitt

Detention: luck