QB: I knew despite the Vikes having their best corner out, Big Ben was going to have 'one of those games.' After all, Roethlisberger has a history of playing poor against 4-3s, and with the Williams duo and Jared Allen, this definitely is one of the league's best. In reality, he's lucky to have 0 in the turnover department. A couple of dumb decisions trying to throw to the ball while escaping sacks almost cost us the game. He looked clueless trying to figure out their front 4, finishing the day 14 of 26 for 175 yards and a TD. Eerily Jason Campbell-like stats.
RB: Before Teemont starts crying, Mendenhall had a great 3 quarters up until his Souljah Boy tell 'em move inside at the 5-yard line. I have no idea what he was thinking. The expression on his face after the play was bizarre, almost as if he thought he was on the goal line. On a good note, he finished the day with 10 carries for 69 yards, with 3 big gains of 14, 15 and 17 yards on a stout D. In blocking, he wiffed on one that resulted in a sack but I counted two times where he picked up an unblocked defender. Definitely an upgrade over GWP.
Speaking of Parker, he was yanked after his inability to find a giant hole on a sweep with a ton of space in front of him. Actually, I'm not sure if he was even touched by a defender. It's like that yellow line on my TV screen makes him fall. The one carry Willie Parker got against Minnesota was one too many.
Moore, the Steelers best back , didn't see much of the ball until Mendenhall's boner, but still played his role ok. Ben missed a few checkdowns that would have resulted in first downs where Moore was uncovered.
WR: Ben's shakiness didn't help with these grades, but there were still a couple of 'splash' plays made by none other than our reigning Superbowl MVP and a RotY contender in Mike Wallace. Holmes had a TD taken away early on a bullshit call, but had a nice catch and run in man-to-man coverage, making 5 defenders miss, for 45 years that almost put us in the endzone (see RB). Ward was pretty much nonexistent, held to 1 carry for 3 yards and dropping a couple of passes after getting hit. Wallace is developing as one of Ben's go-to guys. He held on to a low-thrown pass on a 3rd and long in which Childress challenged, but speedy Mike was able to get both hands under the ball. Also, his ability to find the soft spot in the Vikes zone allowed him to punch in a much-needed score just before the half.
Limas Pee'd: F (didn't dress, but not getting him any benefit of the doubt)
TE: Miller was the only thing consistently keeping our drives alive. By this I mean keeping them alive all the way to third down. No, he wasn't getting big chunks, but at least he was moving forward. Johnson had a lone catch and was solid in run blocking. I didn't see Spaeth on the field.
OL: Ben was pressured quite frequently in the game, and had lots of batted down balls. Kemo did well pulling for Mendenhall. Overall a 'meh' game for the group.
DL: The front 3 did a great job containing Peterson's running game. For the first time in his career, AP was held to negative yards in the first quarter. That's a big testament considering our best lineman is out for the season. Kirshke is spelling him just perfectly. After Rice got behind our zone and ran just short of the end zone, our front 7 came up with a crucial goal-line stand inside the 2. Our first turnover in the game was also caused by an incredible individual effort by defensive end Brett Keisel to slap the ball out of Favre’s hands, and then a better team effort by our entire unit to walk Woodley 77 yards into the endzone. Big Snack had 3 neutral zone infractions in the first half, which is pretty bad for a nose guard, but still, no big complaints from these guys.
LBers: This was the best I've seen them as a cohesive unit this season. With our D on their last leg with Kirshke and Timmons hurt, they still found a way to win the game for the offense. Farrior had his best game to date, putting up with 9 solo tackles and a sack. He also broke up a sure first-down pass on a 3rd and long early on. Woodley had his season average of two tackles, but was consistently getting pressure on Favre. Minnesota apparently forgot he was on our team and came in unblocked on 3 separate plays. Timmons had a scary moment in the 4th quarter, but Fox didn't miss a beat spelling him. It actually seemed like the D played a little better with him in the game. LeBeau should definitely consider him getting more reps in the starting unit. His 82-yard interception return ensured no late-game Favre magic would happen. Harrison, as usual, was a beast all over the field and ended the game on with second sack of the night.
CBs: Not the best day for our corners. They were a complete liability on the field. After 4 straight punts, Favre got a little clue that Gay is not starting material. On their first scoring drive, Gay's soft cushion allowed Favre to target him with quick screens. To add insult to injury, gets completely run over by Peterson late in the 4th. One a good note, he did break up a deep pass, even though it should have been an INT. Ike contained Sidney well when he was assigned to him, and then proceeded not to care in the 2nd half.
S: Troy looked good early on. Broke up a nicely placed ball by Favre on their first drive and could have probably picked off a pass 2 drives later had he been 100 percent. Polamalu couldn't stick one of his signature missile tackles covering Percy Harvin in the second half on a 3rd and 6 that resulted in a big gain and also allowed Rice to get behind him in empty space later in the game, but ended up intelligently tackling him just before he went in which later resulted in the goal line stand. Clark took Harvin out of the game momentarily with a monster hit that broke up a potential big play.
STs: Hooker Reed came up with one of the most bitch plays I've ever seen, completely giving up on a tackle on a kickoff that put the game within 3. I hope he heard it from Tomlin after the play. After watching a handful of games where the kicker was able to boot it into the endzone, I say Tomlin gives Sepulveda a chance on kickoffs.
Coverage, like last week, was dreadful. Returns seem to always happen after a Steeler score as well. Remember in the 2007 wildcard game when MJ-D scored right after Ben marched down the field?
Coverage Units: D
OC: The good ol' Bruce is back. His playcalling today brought back memories of the nightmare I had to experience every week of the regular season last year. You know, where LeBeau had to bail out this bonehead. Every time Mendenhall would get a nice chunk of yardage and a first down, common sense would say feed him the ball. But no, on every resulting play afterwards, we went empty backfield or lone back w/ 4 WRs lined up to pass. Not even one time did we challenge their pathetic and depleted secondary. NOT ONCE. Bruce, you sir, are a loser.
DC: This was definitely the best game so far this season for our D. This game was very similar to the first time we played Baltimore last season on MNF.
HC: It probably just would've been easier to just let Reed kick it out of bounds. I'm guessing he didn't stress enough ball security either.