Grading the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 13

November, 29, 2013
11/29/13
1:05
PM ET
BALTIMORE -- Relatively high marks were given after the Pittsburgh Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens with a few notable exceptions.

Quarterback: Ben Roethlisberger missed a couple of throws, but he was at his best in leading the Steelers back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and giving them a chance to win. Roethlisberger completed 17 of 30 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown in the second half and did not commit a turnover for the third consecutive game. He fit a 19-yard yard completion to Heath Miller into the tightest of windows, and that set up the Steelers' final touchdown. Grade: B+
Bell
Running backs: Le'Veon Bell shook off a slow start on the way to his best game as a professional. His 43-yard run in the third quarter, a career-best, set up the Steelers' first score and Bell's 29-yard catch and run loomed large in the final touchdown of the game. He finished with 136 total yards of offense and a touchdown and accounted for five of the Steelers' 20 offensive first downs. Sturdy and tough with some wiggle, Bell is built for Steelers-Ravens. Grade: B+

Receivers: Miller had his most productive game of the season, but the Ravens contained Antonio Brown for the most part while Emmanuel Sanders had a couple of key drops, including one on a deep ball early in the game that might have jump-started the offense had he held onto it. Roethlisberger said he could have thrown a better pass on the 2-point conversion at the end of the game but Sanders, to his credit, took blame for not catching it, and he was right. That play has to be made at this level, especially given how much was at stake. Grade: C-

Offensive line: The unit did not provide enough running room for Bell early but it more than held its own on the road against a formidable front seven. Roethlisberger did not get sacked for the second consecutive game, and the line had just one penalty in the second half when the Steelers ran their no-huddle offense most of the time and excelled at it. If grading on a curve, based on the spate of injuries that caused more in-game injuries up front this would be an A. Grade: B+

Defensive line: Ziggy Hood played his best game of the season after taking over for Brett Keisel at right defensive end early in the first quarter. He and Cameron Heyward put pressure on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco while also helping limit Ray Rice to 32 rushing yards and 2.7 yards per carry. Al Woods did OK at nose tackle despite playing limited snaps because of the Steelers' use of their quarter package. Grade: A-

Worilds
Linebackers: Left outside linebacker Jason Worilds had a monster game, abusing Ravens right tackle Michael Oher on the way to 10 tackles, two sacks and three quarterback hurries. Is he the Steelers' best rusher even after LaMarr Woodley returns from a calf injury? Lawrence Timmons also played well, but the Steelers didn't get to Flacco enough, particularly in the first half. Jarvis Jones is still a work in progress, and the rookie didn't provide enough of a pass rush opposite Worilds. Grade: B-

Secondary: Ike Taylor had trouble sticking with the opponent's No. 1 receiver for the third week in a row, though he did a better job on Torrey Smith in the second half and didn't get enough help from the safeties. Troy Polamalu had a quiet game, and he is clearly much more effective playing closer to the line of scrimmage than back in coverage. The defensive backs limited Baltimore's big plays after Smith's early 54-yard catch but they didn't come close to intercepting Flacco. Grade: D

Special teams: They were the biggest reason why the Steelers lost despite not committing any turnovers, achieving balance on offense and forcing the Ravens to settle for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. A botched field-goal attempt amounted to a six-point swing. Jacoby Jones' 73-yard punt return swung momentum back to the Ravens after the Steelers had sliced their lead to 13-7. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made the special-teams imbalance between the rivals all the more acute by banging all five of his field-goal attempts. Grade: D-

Coaching: Why did it take a half -- and a 13-0 deficit -- for the Steelers to take the reins off the offense? The Steelers were curiously conservative in the first half, playing not to lose a game they had to win, and it cost them when a furious fourth-quarter rally fell agonizingly short. Credit the Steelers for making the necessary adjustments, though they came a little to late. Grade: C

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.