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10-25-2010, 07:20 AM
Steelers Report Card: Game Six vs. Miami Dolphins
Gerry Dulac grades the Steelers' effort Sunday in their victory against Miami
Monday, October 25, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Alan Diaz/AP
Mike Wallace - 2 rec., 53 yards, 1 TD

QUARTERBACK A-

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 302 yards, two touchdowns, did not have an interception and posted a passer rating of 132.0. But he almost cost the Steelers the game when he fumbled at the goal line in the final 2 1/2 minutes. In a first half in which he passed for 195 yards and two touchdowns, Roethlisberger's only mistake was a fumble when he tried an ill-advised shovel pass, resulting in a field goal.

RUNNING BACKS C-

It was a long day for Rashard Mendenhall, who finished with a season-low 37 yards on 15 carries and had only 8 yards on seven carries in the second half. But it was seldom-used Mewelde Moore who had several big plays for the offense, the biggest a 29-yard catch-and-run on third-and-5 on the winning field-goal drive. Moore also had a 16-yard run, the longest of the day.

WIDE RECEIVERS A+

Hines Ward had season-highs with seven catches and 131 yards and made several nice plays, including shaking two defenders on a 21-yard touchdown and a 43-yard catch on a busted play to set up a FG. But it was the little things, too, like staying in for blitz pickup on the 29-yard pass to Moore. Mike Wallace continues to show he can outrun any coverage, catching a 53-yard TD pass.

OFFENSIVE LINE - D

It was easily the worst rushing performance of the season and the pocket collapsed way too early on Roethlisberger, who was sacked three times. The Steelers finished with 58 yards on 27 carries -- 73 yards below their season average -- and had just 16 yards on 16 carries after halftime. G Doug Legursky had holding penalties on the same drive that negated gains of 11 and 6 yards.

DEFENSIVE LINE - A

The torn-tricep injury to Aaron Smith, which appears to be season-ending, dampened another solid performance up front. Already playing without DE Brett Keisel (hamstring), the Steelers held the Dolphins to 60 yards on 21 carries -- the fewest by an opponent since Week 2 in Tennessee. The rush defense has been so good Ricky Williams' 48 yards were the most by an opposing back this season.

LINEBACKERS - B

The injury to OLB LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) forced the defense to juggle linebackers, and two of the replacements made big plays. Larry Foote, who played inside when Lawrence Timmons moved outside, had a big third-down stop and the only sack against Chad Henne. And rookie Jason Worilds, who played in Woodley's spot in the nickel, hit Henne and forced an incompletion on the final play.

DEFENSIVE BACKS C+

CB Ike Taylor followed Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall -- a tactic the Steelers haven't used this season -- and held him to five catches for 57 yards. Henne passed for 257 yards and was not intercepted, but he didn't complete a pass longer than 26 yards. Even on that play, William Gay and Ryan Clark each missed tackles that allowed Davone Bess to score on a 26-yard catch-and-run before halftime.

SPECIAL TEAMS B+

After fumbling the opening kickoff to set up a field goal, Emmanuel Sanders atoned with several big plays, starting with a big hit in kick coverage. He followed with a 37-yard kickoff return to set up Wallace's 53-yard TD catch and a 48-yard return to the Miami 48 to set up the winning scoring drive. Jeff Reed was 3-for-3 in field-goal attempts, making him 8-for-8 on the road in 2010.

COACHING A

Mike Tomlin always reminds his players that the standard of expectation doesn't change, no matter who is in the game, and that message resonated again against the Dophins after injuries to Smith, Woodley and LT Flozell Adams. The Steelers seem to thrive in these situations, not wilt, and that mental toughness is a by-product of their head coach.
Gerry Dulac can be reached at gdulac@post-gazette.com.


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