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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers vs. Browns Week 13 showdown

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after a huge win in Week 13 of the 2019 season.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 11, the Steelers had an opportunity to go 6-4 on Thursday Night Football in Cleveland and start realizing their playoff destiny, but nothing went right. The game was an abomination to watch for many reasons that we’ve all discussed ad nauseum. Fast forward 17 days and the once 2-6 Browns were the favorites to finish what they started and find themselves in true playoff contention. But Devlin Hodges and the Steeler defense had other ideas.

For some reason, I’ve been given the responsibility to rate the performance of the squad. It’s not easy, but I’ll give it a whirl. 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 had certain expectations of this contest, then the game happened and judgments abound.

Grading games is an extremely difficult and somewhat thankless task. While the coaches’ grades, of course, are what counts the most, the media and fans can’t help but evaluate as well. All letter grades are simply based on the eye test of somebody watching at home. In this case, it’s my boob-headed opinion.

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


Offense: B-

Duck and the Steelers started off rough and it seemed like Randy Fichtner’s generic and predictable game plan was designed to focus on the run and protect the quarterback. It wasn’t working and was getting sniffed out easily by the Browns. But then they ran the Wildcat twice and it loosened the defense up for Hodges to pass the ball. No. 6 showed poise and moxie in going 12/21 for 212 yards, a touchdown and dumb interception. After being down 10-0 late in the half, the Samford alum led the Steelers to a field goal and then got it back and aired it out for a gorgeous James Washington TD. He kept it going in the second half by making plays when needed. He looks like he’s won the job going forward. Washington was fantastic with four grabs for 111 yards and a score. The line, led by David DeCastro, was pretty solid protecting Duck and making holes for Benny Snell Jr. to shine by averaging 3.9 ypc for 63 yards and a score. The Steeler rushing attack had 124 yards total. It wasn’t perfect, but this team earns a higher grade because of the many reserves that were on the field and getting the win.

Poll

What grade do you think the offense deserves after the 20-13 win over Cleveland?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (122 votes)
  • 66%
    B
    (1330 votes)
  • 26%
    C
    (520 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (23 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (4 votes)
1999 votes total Vote Now

Defense: B+

Baker Mayfield was again tough to bring down at the beginning and was completing a lot of passes. But the Steelers defense clamped down, led by Bud Dupree (1.5 sacks and a forced fumble) with five sacks. Joe Haden’s interception iced it, but everybody on defense looked good in one way or another.

Poll

What grade would you assign the defense after the Week 12 win vs. the visiting Browns?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    A
    (1215 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (729 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (30 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (4 votes)
1982 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: A

Chris Boswell continued his great year by hitting two field goals. Jordan Berry had to punt the ball only four times for a 43.3 average, but (a rarity this season) landed none inside-the-20. The return game looked better with Kerrith Whyte averaging 24 yards-per-return. Also, the kick/punt coverage was pretty good this week. Kam Kelly had a monstrous hit.

Poll

What grade did the ST Unit earn after their Week 13 win over Cleveland,

This poll is closed

  • 51%
    A
    (937 votes)
  • 41%
    B
    (760 votes)
  • 5%
    C
    (107 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (9 votes)
1817 votes total Vote Now

Overall: B+

This was a satisfying win. I’m not going to call it ugly, because the Steelers eventually outplayed the Browns. With depleted personnel, they deserve credit for it.

Poll

What overall grade is most appropriate after the Steelers 20-13 win over the Browns?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    A
    (596 votes)
  • 62%
    B
    (1139 votes)
  • 4%
    C
    (73 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (6 votes)
1819 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: James Washington and Bud Dupree

Honor Roll: Mike Tomlin, Devlin Hodges, T.J. Watt, David DeCastro, Bennie Snell Jr., Javon Hargrave, Devin Bush, Joe Haden, Chris Boswell, Terrell Edmunds

Requires Improvement: Randy Fichtner, Matt Feiler, Diontae Johnson


Now it is your turn to play teacher. Use the polls and the comments section below. We can compare notes in the teachers lounge.