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Old 12-03-2006, 11:39 PM   #1
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Default Game 12 Report Card: Steelers vs. Buccaneers

Monday, December 04, 2006


GERRY DULAC grades the Steelers' effort in the 20-3 victory against the Buccaneers yesterday. The report is broken down into defensive and offensive positions and coaching.


Ben Roethlisberger looked like he would have another mistake-filled outing when he threw a bad interception on his first possession. But he bounced back to make just enough plays to produce two touchdown throws, despite playing without his top two receivers and being under a lot of pressure.

Not a good outing when the best news is Dan Kreider got 5 yards on his first carry of the season. Willie Parker looked like he was playing on the road, gaining only 19 yards on 10 carries in the first half and finishing with 61 yards on 22 carries. Najeh Davenport had 8 yards on six carries and also dropped a third-down pass.

A commendable effort from a unit that already was playing without Hines Ward then lost Cedrick Wilson early in the first quarter. Nate Washington had three catches for 78 yards, but his 36-yarder in the third quarter set up a touchdown. TE Heath Miller had a drop on third down, but atoned with a 16-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. TE Jerame Tuman had his first touchdown catch of the season.

Roethlisberger was sacked only once, but he was under heavy blitz pressure and was forced from the pocket on many occasions. What's more, there was nowhere for Parker to run as the running game averaged 2.5 yards. And that's not exactly the old Buccaneers defense the Steelers were facing.

The line did more than accomplish one of their main goals -- stopping running back Cadillac Williams (27 yards on 11 carries). They also did a good job collapsing the pocket, especially defensive end Aaron Smith, who had one of the five sacks. Smith and defensive end Brett Keisel, who had a sack, combined for 10 tackles.

There were some big plays for a change, including two sacks by Joey Porter, an interception and a fumble recovery by Larry Foote and even a late interception by Clint Kreiwaldt. Foote had the biggest role, assuming some of the responsibilities of injured Troy Polamalu in the dime defense. Polamalu sat out with an knee injury.

They were rarely tested by Bruce Gradkowski, who was flushed from the pocket repeatedly. S Tyrone Carter had a big stop on fourth-and-1, but he was badly beat on a play when Michael Clayton dropped a certain TD. And CB Deshea Townsend dropped what would have been a sure interception return for TD. CB Bryant McFadden finally stopped a fade pass in the end zone with a nice interception.

For a change, a solid job in coverage, particularly on kickoffs. The Buccaneers averaged just 19 yards on five kick returns and 2.3 yards on four punts. Jeff Reed kicked field goals of 39 and 50 yards, the longest in Heinz Field history in an NFL game. But he missed a 32-yarder, his third inside the 36 at home.

The players did a good job to rebound from last week's "pitiful" performance, especially when they missing two key starters and lost two more during the game. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau made sure to keep the pressure on Gradkowski and give him different looks, resulting in three interceptions. In case you're not counting, that's 3-1 in the past four games.

?Jarrad Page, we?re not at UCLA anymore. You need to wrap.? ?an ESPN commentator, on the Chiefs rookie?s weak attempt at tackling the Steelers? Nate Washington in a 45-7 loss.
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Old 12-04-2006, 02:03 AM   #2
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Default Re: Game 12 Report Card: Steelers vs. Buccaneers

I thought McFadden and Carter each had strong games in the secondary and I was very pleased with the play of young Smith. Lets get him some reps.
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