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Report Card: Grading the Steelers Week 3 loss to the Browns

Looking at how the Steelers played in Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The Steelers are now 0-7-1 since the start of the 2020 season when T.J. Watt plays less than 50% of the defensive snaps for the game. When he is on the field for at least half the snaps they are 22-6 in that same time span.

Obviously we won’t be grading T.J. Watt for this game, but there are plenty of players to look at, and plenty of blame to go around.

Offense

The Steelers offense had their most productive game of the season, and at half time looked like they were breaking through and playing well. That didn’t hold up in the second half with four straight punts and three of their first four possessions failing to pick up even one first down.

The offensive line continues on an upward curve, and has become a solid pass protection group that are also improving in their run blocking. It isn’t good yet, but they aren’t a liability anymore.

Mitch Trubisky played his best game of the season so far, and yet still only put up a yards per attempt of 6.375, which is still not good. He also missed open receivers in he middle of the field, and on a day when the Steelers run game was looking better than it has in a while, and the Browns losing both of their starting inside linebackers to injury, Pat Freiermuth wasn’t targeted until the 4th quarter. In fact, no other tight end was targeted despite playing much more than they did against the Patriots in Week 2. When you add in the number of open receivers in the middle of the field that didn’t get thrown to it’s pretty damning for the quarterback.

The bottom line is the offense can keep looking good, but until they can score a respectable amount of points they still haven’t done an acceptable job.

Honor Roll: Jaylen Warren, George Pickens’ ridiculous catch, Most of the offensive line play.

Demerits: Passing to the middle of the field, Chukwuma Okorafor negating the longest play of the game, the second half.

Final Grade: D


Defense

The Steelers played their worst game of the season on defense, and still kept the Steelers in the game despite their anemic offense. Sadly, the Steelers run defense continues to struggle, this game a particularly bad one. I’m not going to be too hard on the defense for that as the Browns are the premier rushing team in the league, and running the ball is always a better strategy in a Thursday night home game.

This Steelers defense needs the extra days off. The only things they need more than some rest is an offense that scores a reasonable amount of points and the return of T.J. Watt.

Alex Highsmith bounced back from a disappointing Week 2 with a strong performance including 1.5 sacks and good run defense despite being a clear focus of the Browns scheme.

Honor Roll: Alex Highsmith, Cameron Sutton, Cameron Heyward, Larry Ogunjobi

Demerits: Akhello Witherspoon, Chris Wormley and DeMarvin Leal in run defense.

Final Grade: D (but a higher D than the offense)


Special Teams

The kickers struggled in the wind, with Chris Boswell missing a field goal and Pressley Harvin having his worst day punting of the season, even if some lucky bounces helped him out. The return teams did nothing to speak of, and the special teams highlight of the game was a deflected punt from Miles Killebrew.

Honor Roll: Miles Killebrew, Myles Boykin, James Pierre.

Demerits: The wind.

Final Grade: C


Overall

The Steelers played a good half, and a dreadful half of football in Week 3. The first half is enough to save them from an F, but it isn’t enough to get a C.

This game felt winnable, but the Steelers couldn’t get it done and the touchdown to end the game was a bit of salt in the wound. The worst part is even though the score stays close, it feels less and less like the Steelers are a threat to pull out the win.

Final Grade: D


Now it’s your turn to tell us what you think. Vote your grade for the Steelers overall performance and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Poll

Grade the Steelers week 3 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

  • 0%
    A
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    B
    (1 vote)
  • 7%
    C
    (110 votes)
  • 51%
    D
    (745 votes)
  • 40%
    F
    (590 votes)
1458 votes total Vote Now