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Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 41-37 Week 11 loss to the Chargers

Taking a look at who performed well, and who didn’t, after the Steelers’ 41-37 Week 11 loss to the Chargers.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Los Angeles Chargers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers ultimately flopped in Hollywood Sunday night. But after getting beaten down early, the Steelers rallied back to make a noble effort of this game. The Steelers really had no business being in this one whatsoever but they scrapped their way to a respectable showing. The Steelers fourth quarter alone will greatly boost the grades they will receive for the entire game. The resilience they showed proved they are a better team than what we’ve seen and, when they are healthy, they are able to beat anyone.

Offense

In a game against the worst rush defense in Football, you would imagine Najee Harris going off on a impressive tear. However, the run game really never got going and a lot of that can be attributed to the Chargers game plan, as well as the injuries to the Steelers interior offensive line.

But when one facet of the game couldn’t seem to click, the Steelers passing game took off. Ben Roethlisberger look dialed in with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool both of which had big nights for the Steelers. Even though Roethlisberger missed te entire week of practice due to being on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, he played one of his better games of the 2021 campaign. The Steelers moved the ball better than they have in the last few weeks and put up a respectable 37 points because of their prowess through the air.

However, the offensive line should also be brought up. Kendrick Green again struggled in both the pass and run game. The Steelers center was pushed back into the lap of the quarterback and manhandled throughout the game. Dan Moore Jr and Joe Haeg both struggled late in the game including the ending sequence which saw Roethlisberger being sacked twice. This line needs to start playing better, and if they don’t I would expect a mass transition of personnel this upcoming offseason.

Final Grade: B


Defense

I really won’t spend too much time on this category. Obviously this unit deserves a failing grade but part of me wants to give them an incomplete. Without the likes of T.J Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Joe Haden (plus a plethora of defensive lineman) it was obvious this unit was going to struggle from the top. They simply were outmatched and outplayed and you can’t pin this loss on anyone but the defense’s lack of talent.

I will say Devin Bush again looks like a fish out of water he has lost his step since his knee injury and doesn’t look like the player he once was. Ahkello Witherspoon has also continued to add to the list of reasons why he may be one of the worst trades in Kevin Colbert‘s tenure. The corner just cannot figure it out and then minimal playing time gets picked on ruthlessly by the opposition’s quarterback and play caller.

Final Grade: F


Special Teams

Chris Boswell was perfect, they blocked punt, and with minimal reps Pressley Harvin III blasted a perfect punt. You really couldn’t ask anymore from each of the Steelers special team squads. My one flaw keeping this from being an A+ was Cameron Sutton lining up offside negating a missed field goal. Penalties on field goals have become a trend for this team, and it must be cleaned up as soon as possible.

Aside from that, this is exactly how you would want your special teams to play a game. Flawless execution and got the job done when called upon.

Final Grade: A


Overall

I really believed the Pittsburgh Steelers never had any business being in this game. They were extremely undermanned, and their starting quarterback wasn’t even available for in-person meetings or practice this entire week. The fact the Steelers made this a game is a testament to the coaching staff and the will of the Pittsburgh Steelers players. I think as a fan base we should be proud of this team‘s efforts and recognize that this loss falls on the shoulders of the teams personal issues due to injury and Covid.

I was impressed that this team hung in there for as long as they did and nearly swung the biggest fourth quarter come back in franchise history. When they play at 100% health, the Steelers should be able to hang with any team in this league. It’s a tough loss but one that can be built on and learned from.

Final Grade: C+


But what do you think? Do you agree with these grades? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.