The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17 of the regular season. After the AFC North divisional game on Sunday, it is time to see who performed well, and who left a lot to be desired.
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 plays on the field can be deemed ‘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 17...
Benny Snell Jr.
Stat Line: 18 carries, 91 yards, 1 TD, 5.1 yards per carry
Benny Snell has made a case for himself since returning from his knee injury to get a look as more than a reserve back in 2020. If the Steelers would ever be wise and use a running back by committee approach, he and James Conner could make a tremendous tandem in the backfield. Snell might have started slow, but he finished fast.
Stat Line: 5 total tackles, 4 solo, .5 sack, .5 TFL, 2 QB Hits, 1 Forced Fumble
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Watt could be on this list every game. Because even in a game where he was called offsides twice, and flagged for a roughing the passer call, he made up for it with his forced fumble which gave the Steelers life. Watt is still a young player, something I have to remind myself from time to time, and the thought of him getting even better is exciting for fans, and frightening for the opposition.
Stat Line: 4 tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QB Hit
From Bud the Dud to Bud the Stud, Dupree finished off his tremendous 2019 campaign with another stellar outing. Some will say he didn’t play well in run support, but the team as a whole didn’t do well vs. the run on Sunday. Dupree has really developed into a quality pass rusher, and someone who when paired with another quality rusher, can win his one-on-one matchups. Question now is whether Dupree will be back next season or not?
Stat Line: 4 receptions, 54 yards, 7 targets
Johnson didn’t light up the stat sheet, but I haven’t seen some so electrifying with the football in their hands since No. 84, I don’t want to type his name, played for the black-and-gold. The rookie from Toledo amassed 680 on the season, second on the team, and led the team in receiving touchdowns with 5. I think the Steelers found a good one in Johnson.
Stat Line: Perfect on XPs and FGs
Boswell only made one extra point and one short field goal in Week 17, but I felt compelled to put him in the Winner’s column considering how far he has come since 2018. Fans have seen kickers loser their confidence and never gain it back, but Boswell did. Kudos to him, because he had to prove it to the organization...and he did.
Stat Line: 9/25, 95 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 1 Fumble
No one expected Hodges to win the game for the Steelers. And while some might argue he didn’t lose the game for the team, it isn’t like he helped either. Prior to Duck’s fumble, the game was tight, 9-7, and the Steelers had the chance to put points on the board before half. Worst case would be they kill some clock and get the ball to start the third quarter. Hodges’ poor ball security was on display again, and his lack of awareness of the situation was evident. That one play, which made the score 16-7 at half, rather than 9-7, was a dagger the team wouldn’t recover from. There was a reason Hodges wasn’t drafted.
Stat Line: Costly fumble equated in a touchdown
Berry started off the season playing great. He had good distance on his punts, was handling the duties of the punter/holder well, but then something changed around midway point of the season. He botched a snap holding, we all remember the “fake” punt vs. the Cardinals, and then the dropped snap in Week 17. His play has just gone south in a bad way towards the end of the season. One thing is for sure, you have to be consistent if you want to make the NFL your job, and Berry just isn’t consistent.
Stat Line: 0 receptions, 3 targets
Maybe putting Washington on this side of the ledger is a bit harsh, but when you only get three balls thrown your way, and two of them literally go right through your hands...that’s a problem. Washington has shown tremendous promise in 2019, but Week 17 was forgettable for the second year receiver.
Stat Line: Hits 23 games
Duck Hodges’ strip sack not only kept the illustrious streak alive, but it now will stretch to a new season! Hey, at least it wasn’t an interception...
Mike Tomlin’s December Record
Stat Line: 1-3 in 2019
Remember when the Steelers were red hot in November and when the calendar turned to December everyone was talking about how great Mike Tomlin’s overall record had been in December?
Coach Tomlin is 23-6, over the past five seasons, during the final month of the regular season. #DecemberFootball— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) December 2, 2019
He is also 30-9 vs. AFC North teams @heinzfield - the best in the division (regular season). https://t.co/QKVqr3q38E
And while the above stats are not fake, or made up, they took a hit in 2019. Tomlin finished the final quarter of the season with a win over the Arizona Cardinals, and then losing three straight to the Buffalo Bills, New York Jets and the Baltimore Ravens. Yikes.
An offseason of uncertainty ahead
Stat Line: Get ready for Ben Roethlisberger “reports”
Ready or not, the Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is about to embark on an offseason filled with Big Ben “reports” and rumors surrounding his return. And if that isn’t enough to make your head explode, there is enough uncertainty surrounding the Steelers regarding pending free agents and potential cap causalities to make the next few months feel like years.