The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they hosted the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5 of the regular season. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had an horrible performance.
Improvement was evident in some ways, and hopefully will continue, but the judgement process must go on. Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after Week 5...
Mason Rudolph/Devlin Hodges
Stat Line: Combined stats were 20/29, 199 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Kudos to Devlin Hodges for coming off the bench and giving the Steelers an opportunity to win the game. The team didn’t lose because of the third string quarterback, and that says something. While fans cling to Hodges and his quality play, let’s not forget how Rudolph had been playing up until his injury. In fact, the play he made on the play where he was concussed might have been his best as a professional. This speaks to the quality of depth the Steelers have at the QB position, but Rudolph is still the man once he is healthy.
Stat Line: 3 INTs moves season total to 12 takeaways
Heading into Week 6 the Steelers are tied for the NFL lead in takeaways with the New England Patriots. Go ahead and read that again...they have 12 takeaways in 5 games. This coming off a year where they barely bested that number in 16 games. The defense is doing their part to give the offense extra possessions, and they need all the possessions they can get.
Stat Line: 9 total tackles, 1 sack, 1.5 tackle for loss, 1 PD, 1 QB Hit
The Steelers got Vince Williams back in their lineup, and boy did he show up in a big way. Williams was playing fast and physical, and his stat line certainly showed how dominant he was when he was on the field. With Mark Barron leaving the game due to injury, Williams played a larger role, and he didn’t disappoint.
Stat Line: 5 sacks makes 19 on the season
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ pass rush continues to tear up the opponent’s offensive line, and they were able to sack Lamar Jackson 5 times in Week 5. Their 19 sacks so far through 5 games has them 3rd in the NFL behind only the Patriots (24) and the Carolina Panthers (20) in this statistical category.
Stat Line: 3/3 field goals, 2/2 extra points
He has been perfect. Period. Slowly but surely he seems to have regained his 2017 form, and ditched his 2018 version of himself. He hasn’t hit a 50+ yard field goal yet, but there hasn’t been a need yet. His longest kick has been 49 yards, and clearly it was good.
JuJu Smith-Schuster/Jaylen Samuels
Stat Line: Samuels 0/1 1 INT, Smith-Schuster OT fumble
While the Steelers are taking the ball away at a ridiculous clip, they are also having some really bad turnovers at inopportune times. The Steelers have given the ball away 7 times this season (4 INTs 3 Fumbles), and the two turnovers in Week 5 were crucial. Samuels’ interception spotted the Ravens an early touchdown, and we all know Smith-Schuster’s fumble essentially sealed the win for Baltimore. It isn’t always the overall number of turnovers, but when they happen, and these were bad.
Stat Line: End of the half time management
At the end of the first half, when Mike Hilton intercepted Jackson with just over 30 seconds left, the Steelers took over and had one timeout in their pocket. After a swing pass to Samuels, who was tackled in bounds, they ended up running just two more plays before Boswell came on to kick a field goal. They went into the half with that one timeout still on the scoreboard. Horrible clock management, and as Lance Williams said in our post-game show (you can hear it below) the small things matter, and this one was huge, in my opinion.
Stat Line: 1-for-4 on the day
In 2018, with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm, the Steelers had one of the best red-zone offenses in the NFL. Through 5 games the Steelers are converting in the red-zone at a 41.6% clip. Where does that rank? 29th in the league. Say what you want, but this offense needs to improve where it matters the most.
Stat Line: 22 overall accepted penalties
The roughing the passer call on Ola Adeniyi was bad, but the officiating was bad beyond the accepted penalties. The questionable calls on both sides puts a weird cloud over what was a very good football game. Maybe one of these days the officials won’t be an integral part of the outcome of a game, for once.