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mesaSteeler
02-02-2009, 12:37 AM
Super Bowl Report Card: Steelers
Ross Tucker > INSIDE THE NFL

Grading out the Steelers during their 27-23 Super Bowl win over the Cardinals

Quarterbacks

Ben Roethlisberger proved once again that statistics alone do him no justice. He is a winner who made all the big plays when he had to, finding Santonio Holmes time after time on the game-winning drive. His ability to extend plays and come through in the clutch is what makes him so special and gave him his second title in his first five seasons. Grade: A

Running Backs

Willie Parker showed good speed bouncing plays to the outside and made enough big runs to keep the Cardinals defense honest. Gary Russell used his power to get the first touchdown of the game for a Pittsburgh team that did most of its damage through the air. Grade: B

Receivers

Holmes was having a huge day before the final drive. He hurt the Cardinals repeatedly with big runs after catching snap-and-throw passes from Roethlisberger. His work on the final drive, including his toe-tapping on the final touchdown, are the stuff of legends. Hines Ward made a couple of critical plays and Heath Miller was a factor with both his receiving and blocking. Grade: A+

Offensive Line

This much-maligned group played just well enough to win, but it was not a pretty performance. It had no answer for Darnell Dockett in the fourth quarter, but sustained blocks long enough to allow Roethlisberger to perform his heroics. The Steelers overcame critical holds by Chris Kemoeatu and Justin Hartwig down the stretch. Grade: B

Defensive Line

Solid, workman-like effort by this veteran group. Arizona couldn't get much of a running game going and really didn't even try. Casey Hampton controlled the middle as usual and Brett Keisel was active throughout. Aaron Smith was a non-factor. Grade: B

Linebackers

James Harrison had the longest play in Super Bowl history on the interception return for a touchdown and was virtually unblockable as Cardinals tackle Mike Gandy was forced to hold him all night. Lamar Woodley was a stud on the other side of the line as well, while Lawrence Timmons flashed amazing closing speed all night. These guys were the stars of the defensive show. Grade: A

Defensive Backs

This group did a nice job containing Larry Fitzgerald until the fourth quarter. Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden were too soft in their coverage all night and allowed Steve Breaston to get open at will. Not the best performance for a group that is fortunate Big Ben and Holmes bailed them out. Grade: C

Special Teams

Not a lot to note here. The Steelers gave up a big play to Breaston on a punt return, but Woodley stopped the ensuing Cardinal drive. Big sticks by William Gay and Patrick Bailey on coverage teams set the tone for the Steelers defense. Grade: C

Coaching

Mike Tomlin's legacy is officially cemented and his speech after the game showed why his team plays so hard for him and maintains that inner-belief even when things aren't going their way. Dick LeBeau's scheme fooled Kurt Warner on the goal line at the end of the first half, but was picked apart by Warner and Fitzgerald in the fourth quarter. Grade: A-


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http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/writers/ross_tucker/02/01/steelers.grades