01-13-2013, 09:40 AM
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P-G Final Report Card: Steelers earn a C-
Excerpts from final grades for the 2012 squad by Gerry Dulac at the P-G
For reasons that are as mystifying as they are surprising, Ben Roethlisberger never was the same after returning from rib/shoulder injuries that caused him to miss three games....
The attempt to run the ball more efficiently failed somewhat miserably ...
There might not have been a more disappointing and underachieving unit on the team than this....
After a solid start, the line became disjointed and ineffective because of injuries....
Judging the defensive line mostly needs to be done collectively, not individually, because of the nature of the defense and what the linemen are asked to do. And, collectively, the Steelers finished No. 2 in the league against the run after allowing just four teams to run for more than 100 yards....
The team's 3-4 defense is built around the ability of the outside linebackers to generate pressure on the quarterback, and that didn't happen in 2012, whether because of injuries or ineffective play....
This unit consistently graded out higher than any other position, which is no surprise considering the Steelers led the league in pass defense for the second year in a row. There were several reasons, chief among them the drastic improvement of cornerback Keenan Lewis, the steady play of safety Ryan Clark and the stability brought by veteran Will Allen when he replaced injured safety Troy Polamalu for six games. Yes, the secondary suffered against the Chargers and the Cowboys without cornerback Ike Taylor and because of injuries to Lewis and Cortez Allen. And the cornerbacks had only three interceptions, two by Allen. But, in this era of pass-happy football, you're doing something right when you can hold seven consecutive quarterbacks to fewer than 200 yards passing.
It is their fault when they get fooled twice in a span of four games on fake punts by desperate teams who had nothing to lose. It is their fault that Drew Butler's blocked punt in Tennessee and Brown's fumble in Dallas were significant turning points in those defeats. But kicker Shaun Suisham was a rock most of the season, missing only one field goal until he missed two critical ones in the must-win game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 15.
There is no question that extensive injuries to nearly every key player had a significant effect on the team's performance.... But there is no excuse for losing four games to teams with a combined 22 victories, especially the dispirited home loss to the Chargers. Or, with a chance to make the playoffs, lose two of the last three games at home.
I more or less agree except for the seconday's grade - the unit cannot get an A with the lack of interceptions and the problems in stopping the pass after Ike Taylor went down