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Old 12-03-2007, 08:11 AM   #1
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Default Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals
Monday, December 03, 2007
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

GERRY DULAC grades the Steelers' effort in a 24-10 win against the Bengals last night at Heinz Field. The report is broken down into offensive, defensive positions and coaching.

Quarterback: B
Ben Roethlisberger was erratic early, throwing high and completing just two of his first six passes with one interception. And he made a poor decision on a late interception in the fourth quarter. In between, he found a comfort zone, completing 14 of 18 passes and finishing with two touchdown passes. He also made a nice play to elude two tacklers and dive over a cornerback on a 6-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.


Running backs: D
Willie Parker had only 29 of his 87 yards in the first half and didn't have a run longer than 12 yards. But, he had four fumbles in the second half, even though replay challenges overturned two of them -- one of which was returned for a touchdown. But with Najeh Davenport inactive because of injury, coach Mike Tomlin had little choice but to keep playing Parker after the fumbles.

Receivers: A+
Hines Ward was phenomenal in poor conditions, catching 11 passes for 90 yards and two touchdowns to become the team's all-time touchdown reception leader. He had seven of his catches in the first half, including a 2-yard touchdown that gave the team a 17-7 lead. Heath Miller caught four passes for 30 yards before halftime -- two on the team's first scoring drive.

Offensive line: B
After being sacked 16 times in the past three games, Roethlisberger was not sacked, though he had a safety negated by a defensive holding penalty in the fourth quarter. LT Max Starks played well again in place of injured Marvel Smith, doing a good job containing the Bengals' best lineman, defensive end Justin Smith. But there were some gaffes: G Kendall Simmons had an unsportsmanlike penalty and G Alan Faneca had false start penalty.

Defensive line: B
The Bengals had some modest success running the ball -- 74 yards on 23 carries -- and there was little pressure on Carson Palmer from the linemen. But the longest run was 15 yards and that was in the fourth quarter against the nickel defense. DE Brett Keisel deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage when the Bengals were at the Steelers 17 in fourth quarter.

Linebackers: B
Larry Foote forced a fumble on a sack and hurried Carson Palmer into a poor throws on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. But his biggest play was breaking up a pass in the end zone to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 6:18 remaining. ILB James Farrior made a nice breakup on a pass over the middle on third down and Clark Haggans hurried Palmer into a bad pass on third down in the fourth quarter.

Secondary: A
After some early missed assignments, the NFL's top-ranked secondary did a good job of not allowing big plays to any of the Bengals' three receivers and forced Palmer into just four completions in his final 18 attempts. The longest reception was 24 yards by Chad Johnson in the final minutes. Johnson, Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry combined for just 13 receptions and 159 yards. S Anthony Smith played with a lack of discipline, taking a facemask penalty after an 11-yard pass to the Steelers' 9.

Special teams: B
The Steelers finally forced a special-teams turnover, getting a hit from safety Grant Mason and a fumble recovery by Carey Davis on a kickoff to set up a field goal. Daniel Sepulveda had a nice 44-yard punt from deep in his own territory in the first quarter but followed that with a 27-yarder from his own 5.

Coaching: B
Mike Tomlin finally got his first correct coaching challenge, having a fumble return for touchdown overturned. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians came up with the right time to go to the no-huddle offense, leading to the first touchdown in the second quarter. And defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau continues to frustrate Palmer, allowing only one touchdown for the sixth time at home this season.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:20 AM   #2
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

I really liked that we went with alot of quick passes in the first half. Almost seemed like someone has been reading the posts on this board.
It bothered me that we did not continue that trend later in the game, especially with FWP having problems. Those quick passes are just as good as a run, and if the ball is kept low just as safe.

Great game by the defense!! again in tough conditions.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:42 AM   #3
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

You know, we were talking about this last night. Switching to short passes is almost counterintuitive if your line is actually blocking and giving the QB time to pass. But it's nice to see them add to their arsenal. We are going to need every tool at our disposal next week.
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

It was definitly a good game yesterday. We improved all around from the last 3 games.
We will have to work on not turning over the ball though; we could have easily given that game away. I'd also like to see a few more deeper passes to spread the opponents D.
I know our D played well yesterday; they came up big when they had to! They will have to work on getting more pressure on the QB especially next week!
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Old 12-03-2007, 08:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

What I saw was Ben was best in the hurry-up offense ( not the no-huddle). When the Steelers were fast paced on offense Ben was at his best. Maybe they should go to that more. I mostly agree with your grades. Maybe it reminds him of his college days.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

I have to agree with all of Dulac's grades, but this grade stood out to me. Our secondary, even with the subs and first year players, stopped the 3 Stooges from getting into the EZ and is ranked #1 - very impressive!

Quote:
After some early missed assignments, the NFL's top-ranked secondary did a good job of not allowing big plays to any of the Bengals' three receivers and forced Palmer into just four completions in his final 18 attempts.
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Old 12-03-2007, 09:18 AM   #7
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

i think the line performed so well because of the quick slants and 3 step drops.

props to the OC for utulizing those plays.
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Old 12-03-2007, 10:49 AM   #8
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

Quote:
Originally Posted by HometownGal View Post
I have to agree with all of Dulac's grades, but this grade stood out to me. Our secondary, even with the subs and first year players, stopped the 3 Stooges from getting into the EZ and is ranked #1 - very impressive!
I could not agree more !!!! The defenisve backs were at their very best . This is what encourages me the most as we head into the final games and most of all the play offs.

I keep asking myself was Carson Palmer, who we must admit is a prolific passer simply off his game with his passes or was it the Steeler coverage and the pressure from our pass rush? You generally can not tell by viewing a game on Television even if you have a big screen and see instant replays but from what I saw it was the combination of two to four down linemen rushing , mixing in blitzes with LB 's and DB's. plus excellent secondary coverage. Personally I thought our defense played a brilliaantly after the early first quarter . I give even further credit to LeBeau for his adjustments made after the Bengals showed some offensive power early on.

If in fact our defense is getting better without our most dynamic player , namely Troy who is getting healthier, I look for HOPE that this Steeler team can pull it off and upset the so called elite teams in January. LaBeau should make the HOF on his superb career as a defenive coach alone. Of course he must retire and wait for 5 years. I would hope to see him being inducted into Canton in his late 90's with the chorous of thousands of Steeler fans screaming defense.

Personally I found a reason to be very hopeful. Peaking at the right time is vital as we all know based up 2005. We are going to know much more next Sunday aren't we.
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Old 12-03-2007, 11:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

i think the grades were about right. i am glad to see ben come out of his slow start though.
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Old 12-03-2007, 01:57 PM   #10
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Default Re: Report Card / Game 12 -- Steelers vs. Bengals

Quote:
After some early missed assignments, the NFL's top-ranked secondary did a good job of not allowing big plays to any of the Bengals' three receivers and forced Palmer into just four completions in his final 18 attempts.

OK...

I KNOW that is the truth. But as I was saying last night. I am still shocked and befuddled, even after LAST YEAR, to hear this! I guess Mike Tomlin gave a little of his DB knowledge to LeBeau, who mixed it in with everything else to produce an unbelievable defense!
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