By now, I’m sure most all of you have watched the Pittsburgh Steelers Friday night preseason win over the New Orleans Saints. For those of you who haven’t, you won’t want to miss this tune-up game as there were quite a few solid performances by Steelers players on both sides of the football during the 60 minutes.
According to Pro Football Focus, Steelers quarterback Landry Jones (83.6) graded out as the team’s top offensive player Friday night. Jones, who threw four interceptions in the Steelers second preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, completed 19 of his 22 pass attempts against the Saints for 206 yards with one touchdown to wide receiver Sammie Coates.
What’s interesting about Jones’ three incompleted passes Friday night is that one was dropped, one was batted down at the line of scrimmage and one was smartly thrown away. In other words, Jones’ performance against the Saints was by far his all-time best and that includes both preseason and regular season games. Even though all four of the interceptions that Jones through the week before against the Eagles were clearly not entirely his fault, it was great to see him bounce back the way he did against the Saints.
PFF also notes that guard Ramon Foster (80.5), guard David DeCastro (79.2), tackle Marcus Gilbert (79.2), and wide receiver Antonio Brown (78.8) all had solid performances against the Saints. Even though starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (73.3) was very sharp Friday night, his PFF grade wasn’t high enough to crack the top- 5 Steelers offensive players this week.
Defensively for the Steelers on Friday, rookie defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (84.7) graded out as the team’s top player on that side of the football. Hargrave, who played 30 total snaps against the Saints, finished the game with a sack, two pressures and a batted pass. It was without a doubt a solid showing by the team’s third-round draft pick this year out of South Carolina State.
Rounding out the top-5 Steelers defensive players for their play Friday night are cornerback William Gay (82.4), linebacker Vince Williams (81.4), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (80.5), and linebacker Tyler Matakevich (76.2). Matakevich’s high defensive grade came on just 9 plays and included him registering an interception thanks to a football being thrown right to him by Saints quarterback Garrett Grayson with 2:15 left in the game.
As for Tuitt, he really played well against the Saints and was hard to keep out of the backfield most of the night.
The Steelers will close out their 2016 preseason schedule Thursday night on the road against the Carolina Panthers.