Nonetheless, after the game, if you look hard enough, you’ll see there were some bright spots. But the dark spots blotted out most fans’ view of the good things that occurred in the last game of the season.
Time to hand out some grades for Winners and Losers on the Steelers following their embarrassing loss on Sunday night.
While the Steelers’ offense didn’t live up to the hype in the postseason, Ben Roethlisberger played his best game in the AFC Championship. He was on target, made good decisions and looked in control. But several of his secondary weapons weren’t able to come up with big plays when the team needed them. Roethlisberger finished the game 31-for-47, 314 yards, with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Even though the touchdowns weren’t there when the team needed them, Roethlisberger played well in this game.
No one wants an injury to occur, but when Le’Veon Bell went out with a groin injury early in the first quarter, Williams stepped up and filled in nicely. Williams rushed for 34 yards on 14 carries, but also contributed 7 catches for 51 yards, and a rushing touchdown. This was exactly the reason why the Steelers brought in Williams before the 2015 season. He was a great insurance policy, and he played well when called on, in what might have been his last game in the NFL.
There was a time when people were calling for Timmons to be benched. He turned his game around, and the solid play continued into the playoffs. Timmons played an inspired game in the AFC Championship game, racking up 14 tackles, 9 solo, and 2 tackles for a loss. Timmons could be a free agent in a little over a month, and he proved a lot if the Steelers decide to bring him back on a team-friendly deal.
There were a lot of game-changing plays in this game, but none were larger than the Steelers who, after thinking they had a Jesse James touchdown, were forced to try to score from the one-foot line. But they were stoned cold on three attempts and had to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal. Instead of being just four points down, the Steelers were eight points down and then the wheels fell off in the third quarter. This wasn’t the only game-changing sequence, but it was huge.
Tom Brady threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Hogan, who couldn’t cut it with the Dolphins or Bills, had nine catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Julian Edelman had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. To say the Steelers’ pass defense was exposed would be a giant understatement. The young guys in the secondary were schooled by one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game.
Overall Game Plan
Le’Veon Bell’s injury threw a wrench into the offensive game plan, but the defensive game plan still has everyone scratching their heads. Tom Brady always picks apart the Steelers’ zone defense, and it was more of the same on Sunday night. The team did switch to man-coverage on occasion, but their lack of experience certainly showed in the back half of the defense. Ultimately, this game was a failure in all phases, including the game plan.
There wasn’t enough time or space on the webpage, to list all of the potential Losers, but understand that it hasn’t gone unnoticed how poor this performance was from top to bottom. The season is over, and the Steelers left a giant dud for fans to chew on until the NFL Draft.