Big Ben Deserved Better
It seems a funny thing to say, given that he had a shot to lead his team on the final drive and win the game but came up short, but I think it’s fair to argue that Roethlisberger’s +5.1 graded game deserved better than a defeat. In truth he made a lot of plays, and often extended them with his own trademark style to hit receivers for gains throughout the game.
Unlike some passers who only start to scramble when things break down, Roethlisberger actually uses his movement to open up throwing lanes and coverages by causing the defense to react. He can generate a pass where there wasn’t one previously by moving around and shifting the angles relative to defenders. It may cost him some hits and pressure at times, but in the greater scheme of things it’s worth the trouble. He finished the game 36 of 46 on his aimed throws (removing two spikes and a throwaway) for 384 yards and four touchdowns. That’s a passer rating of 130.4
Linebackers Strong Against the Run
They may have been without James Harrisonbut the Steelers still got some very impressive play from their linebackers. None of the four graded negatively for the game, and three of them scored very well against the run.Lamarr Woodley (+1.8), Larry Foote (+2.3) andLawrence Timmons(+3.3) all showed very well in the run game, and constantly knifed between blockers to make stops in and around the line of scrimmage. The four linebackers combined for 12 defensive stops and just a single missed tackle.
Though Harrison is obviously a major loss for Pittsburgh, they will be pleased at how Chris Carter played in his stead. Carter may not have graded spectacularly (+0.2), but he made plays in the game and wasn’t exposed the way some players can be at that position.
D-Line Needs Reinforcements
I routinely wonder what some Steelers fans see inZiggy Hood (-2.4), to the point that I’m actually checking plays more times than I normally would just to make sure I’m not missing some extremely subtle and under-the-radar level of dominance from him. It’s just not there. I was actually shocked in this outing when he made a good play in the run game–and even then he was beaten to the tackle by Timmons. Despite 36 snaps rushing the passer he failed to generate any pressure whatsoever.
I understand that might not be his specialty in this defense (though given his college background it probably should be), but if he’s out there for 36 snaps against the pass he needs to be able to make himself a factor. Otherwise he is just dead weight, because he rarely commands more than one blocker. In the end it was another poor performance from Hood and, as Casey Hampton (-1.3) isn’t getting any younger, Pittsburgh need to find some linemen going forward.