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Report Card: Grading the Steelers Week 3 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals

Letter grade scores for all the Pittsburgh Steelers units.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers Week 3 clash with the Cincinnati Bengals went almost as bad as it possibly could. Offense, defense, and special team were as sloppy as could be, and it reflected in the final score. Losing at home to an AFC North rival in that fashion is embarrassing, and I’m positive this next week will be filled with people questioning where the Steelers should go from here.

But for today, we will dive into the grades for the Steelers offense, defense, special teams, and overall. Hopefully this doesn't get too negative...


This was as bad a day of Steelers offensive football that I can remember in recent history. It was almost sad watching the offense trot onto the field, knowing something pathetic was likely to come. The offensive line was terrible, giving up quarterback hit after hit, not opening much in the way of running lanes, and every member of the Steelers offensive line was called for a penalty. The offensive line stunk.

Ben Roethlisberger wasn't much better than the line, his interceptions, especially the second one, were brutal. Some of the worst passes I have ever seen from an NFL quarterback. He again refused to throw any route that was intermediate, or over the middle, and missed on the few times he did look deep. The receivers were fine, but they couldn’t do a whole lot when they were held to targets on check downs and screens. Drops were again a problem for Eric Ebron on his two targets, and his playing time is getting slashed by the week.

Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth were the only bright spots for this offense. Harris did most of his damage in the passing game and had a number of big plays called back because of offensive penalties. Freiermuth caught every decent throw that went his way, including his first career touchdown. Chase Claypool was also the next most noticeable offensive player, but Roethlisberger didn't really get him the ball in good situations.

Final Grade: F


The defense didn't do much of anything on the day. Joe Mixon gashed them all game long, Joe Burrow completed nearly every pass, and the Bengals methodically moved the ball whenever they had it. The Steelers got no pressure on Burrow, a complete 180 from the game they played against him a year ago in which the defense made his life miserable. This was a losing combination for the defense and it showed.

The defense was again burned on a long touchdown, this time coming from Ja’Marr Chase on a 37 second drive to end the first half. This time James Pierre was burned, and he has been trending in the wrong direction as the weeks go by. Terrell Edmunds was the lone bright spot in the game when he caught a Minkah Fitzpatrick break up for the Steelers first interception of the season. But let’s not get it twisted, this was a sad performance by the defense and you have to wonder how much of this team’s success falls on the shoulders of T.J. Watt.

I also wonder where Devin Bush’s production has been. I know he missed a game this season, but he has been nowhere near the playmaker he was as a rookie, or early last season. He needs to get going.

Final Grade: D

Special Teams

It was a pretty blah day for the Steelers’ special teams. Pressley Harvin punted the ball well, Ray-Ray McCloud wasn't great fielding kicks, slipping before he could catch a punt, and Chris Boswell missed a field goal from a range he’s typically automatic. There really isn't much to talk about, but from what we saw it was all below average.

Final Grade: C-


Today was bad, as in take a good long look at your organization and figure out who needs to be moved on from bad. The Steelers look like they need a new offensive line and quarterback, which in today’s NFL is a horrible, horrible combination. If they play how they did today in any game they will lose. It was sloppy, ugly, and downright bad. The Steelers should be ashamed of what they put on tape today, and have to be prepared to make some sweeping changes before they hit Green Bay next week.

Final Grade: F

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