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Report Card: Grading the Steelers’ 29-27 Week 9 win over the Bears

Taking a look at who performed well, and who didn’t, after the Steelers’ 29-27 Week 8 win over the Bears.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers were victorious on Monday night despite a sloppy performance. Each phase of the game went through a bumpy period, but they were able to overcome this and were successful in the end. Sometimes you need your stars shining brightest, and for the Steelers the players they call upon to make a play did just that. Regardless of how ugly it was, the Steelers get another win in the win column. But, today we will grade this performance before crumpling it up and throwing it in the garbage and just remembering it as a win.

Offense

The offense had two distinct periods of success. The first was at the very beginning of the game when it was surgical and it’s precision teetering on dominant. The second was when the Steelers needed a drive to win the game and they did just that. In between those moments were some rocky roads for the Steelers’ offense.

Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty good day despite what some of the talking heads will tell you on Twitter. He was great with his precision and threw the ball with some pretty good accuracy most of the night. You could also tell with another late game run that Ben Roethlisberger is willing to put everything on the line for this team’s success. And it has not gone unnoticed.

I think Najee Harris had a great day despite having some tough sledding in the backfield. The issues were not on him by any means. Both Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. looked like rookies and were tossed around by the Bears’ defensive front. Hopefully those two can return to form in the coming weeks as the Steelers cannot survive that level of play for any period of time.

The receivers really weren’t all that notable, but rookie tight and Pat Freiermuth once again put on another stellar performance for himself. This kid is developing into one of the premier tight ends in the game, and will one day dominate it like Travis Kelce or George Kittle do.

Final Grade: B-


Defense

The defense was amazing through three quarters, and nearly pitched a shut out. If it wasn’t for them falling apart late in the game this would’ve easily been an A+ performance. T.J. Watt put on another outstanding performance, and may have finally pushed himself a top the defensive player of the year ranking list. Three sacks from him and a pass defense at the end of the game is the kind of elite performance we’ve come to expect from the youngest Watt brother.

It was not a good fourth quarter from Arthur Maulet, who was torched twice on the Bears’ drive which gave them the lead. I don’t imagine he will see an uptick in playing time after allowing such plays. It’s a shame the Steelers weren’t able to find someone better than him during the off-season because now that looks like a glaring hole in the secondary.

I would love to see a big play made from a linebacker not named T.J. Watt. Devin Bush, Joe Schobert, and Alex Highsmith need to do something more regularly to reestablish the dominance of this defense.

This unit gets a decent grade because of its dominance early in the game, but they were really close to dropping below a B for the first time in a few weeks.

Final Grade: B-


Special Teams

This category once again needs to be split up. Because Chris Boswell does not deserve to be ranked so poorly after the performance he put on. Sure he missed the extra point, but he became the first kicker in Heinz Field history to make multiple 50+ yard field goals, plus he drilled the game winner, and recovered a fumble. By all means he should be the AFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

As for the rest of the special teams, I will not be so kind. Pressley Harvin III looked to have the yips early in this game and shanked a couple punts. But it was Ray-Ray McCloud Who had the worst play of the day. When McCloud fumbled the ball it didn’t just give the ball the opposition, but resulted in a touchdown for the Chicago Bears. That was an unacceptable play that gave the Bears life in this game that never had any business being close. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers would be out looking for a new returner this week. Whether or not they’re on the roster or on the street remains to be seen.

Final Grade (Boswell): A+

Final Grade (everyone else): F


Overall

The Pittsburgh Steelers won the game, let’s not forget this. Does it feel like a victory? Certainly not. They should’ve won this game with ease, but instead the final result comes down to two points and a thrilling finish. Thankfully all that really matters at the end of any season are the win-loss columns, and on this day the Steelers picked up the much-needed victory.

The Steelers can learn from this game, and carry these lessons into next week against a weak Detroit Lions team, which could easily turn into a trap game. After experiencing what they went through in this game they know how to gut out a victory.

Parts of this game were very ugly, but other parts were dominance from the Steelers. If they can figure out how to sustain the dominance this team will be a very hard one to knock off.

Final Grade: C+


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