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Pittsburgh Steelers report card vs. the Oakland Raiders in Week 9

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The Steelers hosted the Oakland Raiders at Heinz Field. Their hospitality did not include giving up a victory; rather, the Steelers won 38-35. Let's take a look at how the team graded out by position.

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Historically, the Steelers struggle against the Oakland Raiders. Sunday, however, the Black and Gold pulled off a magnificent victory after a thrilling, well-fought battle with their AFC rivals. Not all units performed consistently well, however. Let's see how the team graded out by position.

Quarterback:  A-

Quarterback would have likely earned an A, but it is hard to give an A when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carted off of the field with an ankle injury. While he was on the field, however, Roethlisberger performed well-- much better than last week when he fell apart (mentally, not physically) at the end of the game. Still, the performance at quarterback was strong. Roethlisberger, before hopping off of the field injured, threw for 334, completing 24/44. He had two touchdowns and one interception. Of the passes he did not complete, several were catchable, dropped by his wide receivers. When Landry Jones took over at the end of the game, he performed adequately, throwing for 79 yards and completing 4/6 passes.

Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: A-

It is hard to dole out an A- after Antonio Browns astounding, record-setting performance today when he caught 17 passes for 284 yards. DeAngelo Williams also did well, catching two passes for 55 yards. Tight end Jesse James scored a touchdown as well and was responsible for a critical block that helped Martavis Bryant find his way to the end zone. Other players, however, had some troubling missteps, dropping passes and failing to catch balls that were thrown sufficiently well. Had it not been for those mistakes, the wide receivers and tight ends would have received a solid A.

Offensive Line: B+

The offensive line protected Ben Roethlisberger very well... until they didn't. Despite the misstep at the end of the game that resulted in the Steelers lone sack and unfortunate injury to Roethlisberger, the offensive line performed well overall. They provided excellent blocking that enabled DeAngelo Williams to run for 170 yards. The Raiders run defense was ranked 8th in the NFL going into this match up with the Steelers, so it is noteworthy that the Steelers line was able to facilitate such a successful run game on the part of the Steelers.

Running Backs: A+

Le'Veon Bell is out with a season-ending injury, and yet the Steelers had one of their best rushing games of the season. Williams tallied 170 yards on 27 carries that included a pair of touchdowns. He also had a few absolutely beastly blocks on Raiders defenders, including one that neutralized Raiders defender Aldon Smith.

Defensive Line: B-

Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward made several big tackles around the line of scrimmage that stopped big plays before they had a chance to materialize. On the other hand, the unit as a whole did not perform consistently and did not generate any sacks against a team that has allowed 15 so far this year. Not only were there no sacks, but the line was not able to put pressure on the quarterback. Carr seemed to have all sorts of time in the pocket, a problem that seemed to worsen after halftime adjustments.

Linebackers: B-

Vince Williams had a critical fumble recovery on special teams. Ryan Shazier had a forced fumble, while Jarvis Jones had a fumble recovery.  So, the unit did make some momentum-changing plays that were essential to the Steelers victory. On the other hand, they struggled to stop the run and occasionally missed tackles that resulted in huge gains for the opponents.

Defensive Backs: C

First the good: Ross Cockrell had one of the biggest plays of the game with his endzone interception of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. Mike Mitchell also had several extremely effective hits, one of which resulted in a key turnover.

Now the bad: I can sum it up in two words. Blown coverage. There is no excuse for receivers to be wide open, completely undefended in the endzone. Yet, it happened more than once. At times, the defensive backs could have benefited from some more help from the front seven, but that is no excuse for a shoddy performance that allowed Derek Carr to throw for 301 yards and four touchdowns.

Special Teams: B

Chris Boswell proved he is a mere mortal, missing his first field goal of the season. Consistent for the rest of the game, however, he was one of the bright spots on special teams as he has been week after week. Jacoby Jones played his first game with the Steelers after the release of Dri Archer. It was quickly evident that the Steelers struggles on special teams are not relegated to the man tasked with returning the ball. To be frank, the blocking is inadequate. Also on special teams, Antonio Brown fumbled a punt return.

Most of Jordan Berry's punts were adequate, and one in particular, that was downed by Darius Heyward-Bey, put the Raiders in a very tight spot on the field. In the fourth quarter, Roosevelt Nix forced a fumble that was recovered by Anthony Chickillo. That play set the offense up for a Jesse James touchdown.

Overall, this week Special Teams proved to be more of an asset than a liability.

Overall: B+

This game was marked by a slew of huge, momentum-changing plays, and several frustrating missteps. Dropped passes and blown coverage cast a shadow over a game that saw a record-breaking day by Antonio Brown and an astoundingly good performance by DeAngelo Williams. Before his injury, Ben Roethlisberger, too, had a very strong game.