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Steelers Report Card: Grading the Steelers Wildcard defeat to the Cleveland Browns

Breaking down the success and failures of Pittsburgh’s Wildcard performance.

Wild Card Round - Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers season has come to a soul crushing end. From the opening whistle the Browns dominated the Steelers and put an exclamation mark on the latest late season collapse. This was an embarrassing a loss as I can ever remember. Almost every factor leaned in the Steelers favor and yet the team that looked like they haven't practiced all week was the won that did. This game sucked, and my grades will clearly reflected that.

Let’s evaluate the team and highlight some individual performances. You may think my grades are spot on, you might also think I'm an idiot. Regardless, express your thoughts in the comments below.

Let’s do this...

Offense

Grade: D-

The offense scored 37 points, some of those points were in garbage time but I cannot in good faith give team a failing grade for putting up 37 points.

I’m going to start with some positives. Number one, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 501 yards and four touchdown passes. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson both totaled well over 100 receiving yards. That's really about it...

Now for a long list of negatives. Ben Roethlisberger threw four interceptions most of which were of the flagrant variety. Drops were still an issue for a majority of the receivers. And to top it off Maurkice Pouncey spotted the Browns seven points and turned the game upside down on the opening snap, the Steelers would never recover.

The running game was still basically non-existent however the Steelers were down so much they couldn't run the ball.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steelers’ offense for the Wildcard Round

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (37 votes)
  • 1%
    B
    (27 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (222 votes)
  • 32%
    D
    (709 votes)
  • 54%
    F
    (1210 votes)
2205 votes total Vote Now

Defense

Grade: F

The defense was rested, they brought back Robert Spillane, the only people that were missing were Joe Haden on the COVID list and Bud Dupree and Devin Bush who are both recovering from torn ACLs.

The Browns were without their Pro Bowl guard and didn't even have their play caller. They only ever had one padded practice with said play caller. And they moved the ball up and down the field all day on the Steelers defense.

This was bad, this was embarrassing, what happened to our legendary defense? Because they were no where to be seen today. If you told me T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward rested again this week I would probably believe you as they were virtually invisible.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steelers’ defense for the Wildcard round?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (43 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    C
    (52 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (305 votes)
  • 81%
    F
    (1744 votes)
2152 votes total Vote Now

Special Teams

Grade: D

The Special teams were a non factor but this grade is from the upcoming coaching grade bleeding through. Choosing to live in your fears and punt in bad situations is unforgivable. It’s the playoffs you have to play to win the game.

Oh, and kick coverage sucked.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steelers’ special teams for the Wildcard round?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    A
    (35 votes)
  • 2%
    B
    (41 votes)
  • 19%
    C
    (359 votes)
  • 32%
    D
    (609 votes)
  • 44%
    F
    (840 votes)
1884 votes total Vote Now

Coaching

Grade: F-

Is there a grade lower than an F? Because if there is the Steelers coaches deserve it. I’m going to try to keep this brief because I feel like I could rant on this topic for a good 20 different articles (stay tuned for more...). This was embarrassing, we already know all the pieces the Browns were missing. Somehow the Steelers weren't prepared for this game. Somehow the Steelers had jitters for this game. And somehow the Steelers laid the biggest goose egg of a game plan of the year.

This was as bad as it has ever as been in the Tomlin era. The fact that it was in the playoffs just exacerbates the issue. Sure a lot of players didn't perform but I blame a lot of this loss on the coaches.

Poll

What grade would you give the Steelers’ coaching for the Wildcard round?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (49 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    C
    (38 votes)
  • 5%
    D
    (118 votes)
  • 89%
    F
    (1853 votes)
2063 votes total Vote Now

Overall

Grade: F

It’s over, it’s really over. What was once one of the most promising starts to the season in NFL history turned into the most prolific multi game collapse in the history of the sport. Something has got to change because three straight years of December collapses should not be the standard for an organization like the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I suppose only one team will be happy come season’s end, but I'm not sure I could be any more disappointed in the way this season came to an end. This one stings, and honestly I think I will look back at this year as the one that got away potentially for the rest of my life...

Poll

What overall grade would you give the Steelers’ Wildcard performance?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    A
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    C
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (130 votes)
  • 90%
    F
    (1791 votes)
1975 votes total Vote Now

The Steelers now turn toward the 2021 offseason, which is shaping up to be one of the more interesting off seasons in the history of this organization. Will the team blow it up? Will they push money into the future for one more run? Will they just ride out the final year of Ben Roethlisberger’s contract and rebuild in 2022? Well I guess you will just have to stay tuned to find out.