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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers Week 14 visit with the Cardinals in Arizona

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BTSC breaks out the red pen and assigns grades to the Steelers after a Week 14 visit with the Cardinals.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In Mike Tomlin’s career, the Steelers typically never have done well out west. Facing the No. 1 Overall Selection in the Draft for the third time in four weeks at quarterback, The Steelers had their work doubly cut out for them. With an opportunity to go 8-5 and ensure another non-losing season for the sixteenth consecutive year, the Steelers rallied around QB Duck Hodges for the victory.

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 dunder-headed opinion.

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


Offense: B-

Duck and the Steelers offense followed the game plan that they were given and found a way to make it work. Although it was not the most imaginative scheme, it produced 16 points and that, aided by a ST score, was good enough for victory’s sake. Hodges completed 16 of 19 passes for 152 yards and a perfectly thrown touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson fairly late in the game. Duck was dangerous with his legs running for 34 yards on five carries for a 6.8 ypc. The line was merely okay, while Maurkice Pouncey had a suspect game in his first contest back from suspension. The Steeler rushing attack had 142 yards total with Kerrith Whyte leading the way with 8.2 ypc. Diontae Johnson led all receivers with six catches for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Poll

What grade do you think the offense deserves after the 23-17 win over Arizona?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    A
    (186 votes)
  • 64%
    B
    (2524 votes)
  • 29%
    C
    (1167 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (46 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (5 votes)
3928 votes total Vote Now

Defense: A-

Sure the Steelers defense gave up 17 points to the Cardinals, however they definitely clamped down when it counted. TJ Watt did not have a sack, but was extremely valuable to the cause. Bud Dupree was dominant again with four tackles and a sack. Joining Dupree with sacks were Mark Baron, Vince Williams and Cam Heyward. But the ultimate winner on defense was Joe Haden. For the third time in the previous four victories, Joe iced the game with a pick. However, he had two interceptions, increasing his season total to four. Solid scheme to stop the dynamic Kyler Murray.

Poll

What grade would you assign the defense after the Week 14 win vs. Arizona?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    A
    (2866 votes)
  • 23%
    B
    (911 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (47 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (3 votes)
3831 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams: B

Chris Boswell continued his great year by hitting three field goals. Jordan Berry only had to punt the ball only twice for a 48.0 average, including a boomer for 66 yards. However, the decision for a fake punt was absolutely ridiculous and failed miserably. The return game looked better with Kerrith Whyte and Diontae Johnson, especially when No. 18 brought back a punt for 85 yards and a score. It was the second longest punt return in Steelers history. Kam Kelly had a monstrous block on the TD. Also, the kick/punt coverage was pretty good this week for the most part.

Poll

What grade did the ST Unit earn after their Week 14 win over Arizona?

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    A
    (1154 votes)
  • 51%
    B
    (1818 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (484 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (69 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (38 votes)
3563 votes total Vote Now

Overall: A-

Duck Hodges keeps on getting better week after week and continues to possess enough magic to win. Pretty soon, he is going to earn the right in the coaches eyes to chuck it downfield more. Diontae Johnson was spectacular and the defense continued to harass the quarterback. It’s a good win and gets them closer to clinching a playoff spot.

Poll

What overall grade is most appropriate after the Steelers bested the Cards 23-17.

This poll is closed

  • 35%
    A
    (1273 votes)
  • 59%
    B
    (2112 votes)
  • 4%
    C
    (151 votes)
  • 0%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (4 votes)
3545 votes total Vote Now

Valedictorian: Diontae Johnson and Joe Haden

Honor Roll: Devlin Hodges, T.J. Watt, Kerrith Whyte, Bud Dupree, Cam Heyward, Chris Boswell

Requires Improvement: Matt Feiler, Maurkice Pouncey


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