Lots of winners today. Not as many losers. These are the best kind of days, agreed?
Ben Roethlisberger: *cue backup QB joke* His performance was far from one, though. He did force the issue in the second half, leading to an INT, but he finished the day with over 370 yards passing and three touchdowns on a bad wheel. I was, frankly, surprised to see Roethlisberger active but named the backup, but boy, was it the right move. Mike Vick isn’t doing anything like that.
Antonio Brown: Man, what else is there to say? There are a lot of great receivers in the NFL. But how can there be any argument to if AB is the best receiver in the league? 10 catches for 139 yards, two touchdowns, and one freakin’ sweet frontflip. He just isn’t human.
Martavis Bryant: The fumble was costly and stung even worse considering the spectacular catch but days like today show how much Bryant can ruin defenses that want to play man-free and think they can roll their corners up to Bryant. They can’t and the Steelers picked on Charles Gaines and Pierre Desir – two young players – all day.
Mike Mitchell: Don’t click away or faint from surprise but Mitchell sincerely deserves Pro Bowl consideration. His three interceptions in 2015 are the most by a Steelers’ safety since Troy Polamalu had seven in 2010. His tackling form is an art, not a science, but he’s incredibly physical and more often than not, brings his man down. It’s his coverage that has been just as impressive. He had the INT plus a breakup on 4th and goal late in the game.
Honest discussion question. If you were to rank the Steelers’ defenders in talent, where would you put Mitchell? Cam Heyward would be at one. Is Mitchell cracking the top three?
Cam Heyward: Speaking of Heyward, he was again stellar. Poor Cameron Erving is going to be scarred for this one and wound up being benched. Heyward finished the day with a sack. Stephon Tuitt did as well, giving the duo 8.5 on the season.
Daniel McCullers: Since I went pretty chalk here, I’ll throw one lesser known winner. I’m sure McCullers’ snap count was low but I’m digging his effort this season. He’s chasing plays way downfield and today, he tackled Duke Johnson on a ten or so yard screen. The fire has been stoked, as Mike Tomlin charged in his Tuesday press conference.
Side note: Steve McLendon was solid, too.
Third Down Offense: Not a lot of losers when you start with a concept, not a player. The Steelers again struggled, finishing the day 3-10. Another week, another day of being under 30% on third down. I’ve lost count of how many times that’s occurred this season. Six or seven and the streak was finally broken last week against the Oakland Raiders. It’s amazing this team can still hit 30+ points and can’t move the ball on third down. Those things are typically mutually exclusive.
Jacoby Jones: It was something out of a Three Stooges episode. Jones just could not hang onto the football. Two bobbles/drops on kickoffs, a muffed punt, and he didn’t get under the first kickoff of the game, forcing himself to take a knee. I didn’t think the return game could get worse with Jones instead of Dri Archer, and that’s why I accepted the move, but it has.
Tomlin, cut Jones and bring Archer back. It’s the smart move. A no-brainer, really. Or at worst, give someone else the job. Jones isn’t cutting it.
Antwon Blake: We’ll have to roll through the film, and maybe the real blame should be placed on the coaching staff. Blake is clearly hurting out there, perhaps with injuries to both arms, and the CBS broadcast noted he is dealing with ligament damage. It’s obliterated his ability to tackle and on one occasion Sunday, he just whiffed, trying to push the receiver out of bounds than running through. Credit to Blake for being one tough hombre, but if he can’t make a tackle in the open field, he shouldn’t be out there. That was a big reason why he had his role in the first place.