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09-17-2012, 11:08 AM
Steelers Report Card: Offense wakes up to dominate Jets

By Chuck Finder | CBSSports.com
September 17, 2012 10:50 am ET


The absences of two of the past four defensive players of the year hardly made a ripple, what with James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf) ailing. What changed the tide for the Steelers was the offense behind a 24-for-31 Ben Roethlisberger gobbling up 36 minutes of possession time and scoring TDs on half of its final six possessions. In fact, the offense hardly gave the New York Jets much of a chance in the second half of this 27-10 spanking Sunday.

Offense: B-minus. For the second consecutive game, the Steelers failed to score touchdowns on their first couple of deep drives, failed to capitalize on field possession or clock-consuming marches for 2 quarters. On Sunday, though, they eventually awoke from that slumber. They did it with passes to running backs and tight ends (8 of 24 completions total). They did it without a running game (66 yards on 28 carries, a measly 2.4 yards per). Mostly, this triumph was owed to the offensive line's ability to protect Roethlisberger decently, despite its inability to create much running room, and Roethlisberger's pinpoint passing (125.1 rating).

Defense: B-plus. Without Harrison and Polamalu, the defense allowed the Jets scores on their opening pair of possessions and a 10-6 lead. Yet with steady pressure, including a hard clout by linebacker Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers caused Mark Sanchez to go from 4 for 5 for 80 yards to 6 for 22 for 58 yards the rest of the way. Ryan Clark topped them with eight tackles and played a dynamic role, shifting between free and strong safetys. Can he do that when Polamalu returns?

Special teams: B-plus. They kept Jeremy Kerley from scoring a TD return, which is more than Buffalo could muster. Rookie Drew Butler got three punts inside the 20, and two at the 10 or closer, all the while collecting a 39.8-yard net. Shaun Suisham remained perfect on field goals, though his 45-yard line drives Sunday looked to be near his max distance. And special teams co-coach Mike Tomlin allowed rookie Chris Rainey to return kickoffs at home in Heinz Field, but will he let him Sunday in Oakland and beyond?

Coaching: B-minus. It took a couple of Jets offensive possessions for the defense to either catch up or merely settle its overanxious ways, what with Clark -- who sat out the Denver game -- admitting he zealously bit on every Sanchez fake the first two drives. All of the Steelers' 10 penalties for 107 yards can't be ascribed simply to replacement officials. How will the Steelers play Sunday at an 0-2 Oakland with a bye week behind that?

09-17-2012, 02:51 PM
"Does Chuck Finder wear a Blinder?"

Harsh review ... you'd think we'd lost the game reading his report card.

Fire his a$$ - we only want homers who wear Black-n-Gold goggles writing our reviews!!!

09-17-2012, 02:59 PM
The only grade that I think is accurate is the offense.

What more can the special teams do short of actually returning a punt or KO for a TD?
The defense gave up 10 stinking points and nothing after the 9 minute mark of the 2nd quarter.
The coaching staff seemed to adjust on the fly to what was happening to them, what more can they do?

These units should have received A- at the worst and probably an 'A'. Man this guy grades tough, I wouldn't want him as a teacher in high school or college. :)


09-17-2012, 03:19 PM
"Does Chuck Finder wear a Blinder?"

Harsh review ... you'd think we'd lost the game reading his report card.

Fire his a$$ - we only want homers who wear Black-n-Gold goggles writing our reviews!!!
I'll do better

Report Card: Steelers get a B+ vs. Jets
September 17, 2012 12:02 am

It was a near flawless performance from Ben Roethlisberger, who did everything from deftly stepping away from pressure to lobbing a perfect 37-yard touchdown to Mike Wallace. He passed for 275 yards and two touchdowns without an interception and spread the ball to 10 different receivers. And, on the 10-minute, 13-second drive that iced the game, he was 5 for 5 for 47 yards and converted four third downs.


It was not a standout performance by any means, not when Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer combined for 53 yards on 24 carries, an average of 2.2 yards per carry. But, when they needed to rely on the run, the two combined for 31 yards on eight carries on the more than 10-minute scoring drive. And it was Redman who capped the drive and iced the game with a 2-yard touchdown run that was a great second effort.


Antonio Brown caught a team-high seven passes for 79 yards, none bigger than a stretching 9-yarder on third down to keep alive the final scoring drive. A great catch by Wallace, as well, to come back to the ball and keep his feet inbounds on a 37-yard touchdown. Emmanuel Sanders made a pair of big catches on the first touchdown drive and tight end Heath Miller had two big catches -- a 1-yard touchdown and a back-shoulder 10-yard catch on third-and-3.


Not a good day running the ball when the Steelers managed just 66 yards on 28 carries against a team that allowed a league-high 195 a week earlier. What's more, they had six runs for negative yards. Roethlisberger was sacked three times and had to step away from a number of pressures to make plays. But, all in all, the line did a good job reading and reacting to the Jets' pressure. Left tackle Max Starks was solid again.


The Jets rushed for 90 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per attempt, but 34 of those yards came on two plays when Tim Tebow came in to run the Wildcat. That was really the only time they appeared confused. Otherwise, Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined for 56 yards on 20 carries. Defensive end Brett Keisel had five tackles and the line did a good job creating gaps for inside pressure from linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote.


Playing without James Harrison for the second game in a row, the unit got a big game from LaMarr Woodley, who had a sack and several hurries on Mark Sanchez. Lawrence Timmons was noticeable in the first half, creating pressure on Sanchez and blowing up run lanes, but he will be fined for his late hit to the head on Sanchez. After completing 4 of his first 5 passes for 80 yards, Sanchez was just 6 of 22 for 58 yards the rest of the way.


Ryan Clark stepped up with Troy Polamalu out and was outstanding in his first game of the season, posting a team-high eight tackles that included a big tackle for a loss to disrupt the Wildcat. Clark, though, did bite on a play-action fake on the first Jets touchdown. Cornerback Ike Taylor got beat inside on a 14-yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes and also had two penalties in the first half, but Holmes was targeted 11 times and caught only three passes.


It was the second sterling performance in a row for this unit. Shaun Suisham hit a pair of 45-yard field goals in the first half to remain perfect on four attempts. But, maybe more important, he continues to kick off deep or through the end zone. Seven of his 11 kickoffs have not been returned. Drew Butler had another punt downed deep in opposing territory, this time at the Jets 6 in the third quarter.


The offense continues to show variety, diversity and a penchant for controlling the ball. And, after allowing the Jets to score on their first two possessions, the defense brought more pressure and never allowed them to score again. In a game in which the Steelers were without two All-Pro performers on defense, they rose to the occasion and did what they seem to do best -- not lose back-to-back games.

Gerry Dulac: gdulac@post-gazette.com
First Published September 17, 2012 12:00 am

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