Steelers' Report Card

Not quite Bluto Blutarsky on defense but not much better either:

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger threw for 400 yards, and he joined Terry Bradshaw as the only quarterbacks in franchise history with 200 career touchdown passes. But he also committed three turnovers and missed what should have been an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders in the second quarter. Grade: C

Running backs: Le’Veon Bell averaged 4.6 yards per carry and finished with 139 rushing and receiving yards combined. But the rookie was stopped behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-one early in the second quarter, and the Patriots took advantage of the short field to score their second touchdown of the game. Jonathan Dwyer added a 30-yard run on his only carry. : Grade: B-

Receivers: Hard to find a lot of fault with this group as the Steelers’ wide receivers consistently got open after the Steelers finally started attacking the Patriots’ cornerbacks. Their top three wideouts combined for 18 catches for 265 yards and all four of the Steelers’ touchdowns. Grade: B+

Offensive line: The unit acquitted itself fairly well despite the absence of right guard David DeCastro and the crowd noise that forced the Steelers to use a silent snap count for much of the game. The Steelers averaged 5.4 yards per carry, and Roethlisberger holding onto the ball too long accounted for at least two of his five sacks. Grade: B-

Defensive line: Teams are running right at the Steelers with Casey Hampton no longer clogging the middle, and New England gashed them for 197 rushing yards. End Cameron Heyward played as well as anyone defensively with a sack and two quarterback hurries, and he is only reason why this isn’t a failing grade. Grade: D

Linebackers: LaMarr Woodley couldn’t even manage a quarterback hurry despite lining up across from a new right tackle, and that offsets his eight tackles and fumble recovery. Lawrence Timmons recorded 11 tackles and Jason Worilds had a pair of sacks but the group struggled as a whole and didn’t put enough pressure on Tom Brady. Grade: D

Secondary: It didn’t get enough help from the front seven, but the Steelers’ defensive backs were simply atrocious, and no one seemed immune to getting beat – and beat badly. Speed is an issue, especially at safety and breakdowns that led to a couple of big pass plays were alarming. Grade: F

Special teams: The Steelers got a couple of nice returns from Felix Jones and Antonio Brown, respectively. But Mat McBriar unleashed what coach Mike Tomlin might refer to as a “junior varsity punt” at the worst time. McBriar hit a low line drive that Julian Edelman returned 43 yards near the end of the third quarter with the Steelers trailing 27-24. The Patriots scored a touchdown five plays later and never looked back. Grade: C-

Coaching: The Steelers again started slow, and they also allowed the Patriots to score touchdowns on all four of their fourth-quarter possessions. Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz scheme rattles or confuses no one these days, and the lack of discipline against the Patriots (three turnovers and eight penalties for 96 yards) is on Tomlin : Grade: F