Tough to find words that capture the emotional heartbreak that came from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 31-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints. With their backs against the wall, the Steelers battled and battled and even looked like they were in position to pull it off but a couple of crucial mistakes late proved to just be too much. Despite the loss, it was an otherwise good showing from a large number of players while just a few struggled. Here are all your latest stock movements as we head into the season finale.
QB Ben Roethlisberger – Stock Up
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger played his best game of the season in last Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Roethlisberger completed 33/50 passes for 380 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The veteran quarterback was well on his way to being the first quarterback to defeat Tom Brady and Drew Brees in consecutive weeks only to be spoiled by a couple of costly fumbles and the Steelers’ own inability to put the Saints away.
RB Stevan Ridley – Stock Down
Hopefully this is the last time I will ever have to type out Stevan Ridley’s name as the veteran running back has been playing hot potato with the football throughout this season. His late fumble against the Saints left crucial points off the board for the Steelers’ offense, who were already out in front 28-24. Dating back to his last fumble against the Cleveland Browns, Ridley has now fumbled twice in his last 20 touches. His helmet was not the only item he broke as Ridley also made sure to help break the Steelers’ playoff chances, which imploded only a couple drives later.
WR Antonio Brown – Stock Up
Antonio Brown did everything humanly possible to keep the Steelers in the playoff race and steer them to a huge upset over the Saints. Unfortunately, it was not enough. In his biggest game of the season, Brown recorded 14 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns. In the process Brown, broke his own personal record and the Steelers’ franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a season, catching his 14th and 15th touchdown of the season. The star receiver gave it his all but the Steelers just could not piece it together. Coming into this season, the Steelers were 9-3 when Brown recorded over 150 receiving yards in a game, so far this season they are 0-2 under the same circumstances.
S Sean Davis – Stock Down
A quick recall of Sunday’s game would allude to safety Sean Davis having a pretty good game. One interception and one bang-bang play that could have went for a fumble if challenged sounds pretty good on paper. Davis’ box score does not line up with the film though and the film never lies. The third-year safety missed three tackles, one on Alvin Kamara’s eight-yard touchdown run and was abused in coverage by Kamara on at least two occasions. There was also the confusion in which Davis allowed Michael Thomas to run free for an easy 28-yard catch and run. When it is all said and done, last Sunday was one of the more inconsistent showings of Davis’ season and career.
OLB T.J. Watt – Stock Up
A week after sacking Tom Brady, outside linebacker T.J. Watt took it to Drew Brees last Sunday, sacking the Saints quarterback once. Watt now has two sacks, four quarterback hits and one pass defense over the last two weeks. According to PFF, Watt has the highest pass-rush win rate in the NFL over the last four weeks with a 28.1% win rate, higher than the likes of Von Miller, Myles Garrett and Justin Houston.
Offensive Line – Stock Down
Specifically talking about pass protection here, the Steelers’ offensive line and this includes running back Jaylen Samuels have done a mediocre job at keeping Roethlisberger clean over the last five games. Samuels had another error in pass protection this week leading to a third and long situation, which led to the attempted fake punt on 4th and five. Who knows how that drive would have transpired had the Steelers not been derailed by the earlier sack. Over the last five games, in which the Steelers are 1-4, Roethlisberger has been sacked 10 times, a big jump from the five total sacks during the Steelers’ previous six-game winning streak.