PIT-STL Grades: Bell leads Steelers, Big Ben injured
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s Pittsburgh-St. Louis game, including the highest-graded players for each team:
— You’re going to find this a lot when teams play the Rams, but the Pittsburgh offensive line had a tough day at the office, in particular the interior trio of Ramon Foster (+0.6), Cody Wallace (-3.3) and David DeCastro (-1.9). They just couldn’t deal with Aaron Donald (+3.9), especially in the run game, with more than half of Le’Veon Bell’s rushing yards coming after contact.
— Antonio Brown extended his NFL record of consecutive games with at least five receptions and 50+ receiving yards to 35 games. He caught 11 of the 13 passes thrown his way for 108 yards and now must work to maintain that streak with Michael Vick at QB and not Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers signal caller went down with a knee injury.
— Vick only played 18 snaps, but already we saw that it’s the same old player we know. Vick completed five of his six attempts for 38 yards, but also took a couple of sacks, one in particular he was entirely at fault for, bailing on a clean pocket before trying to outrun multiple defenders only to come up just short of the line of scrimmage.
RB Le’Veon Bell (+3.1)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (+3.0)
WR Antonio Brown (+2.6)
DE Stephon Tuitt (+2.1)
CB Ross Cockrell (+1.9)
St. Louis Rams
— Aaron Donald was once again the standout on defense for the Rams, playing the game at a different speed to those trying to block him. What was interesting was that almost all of his big plays were in the run game, jacking blockers back into the mesh point and consistently re-routing runs.
— Nick Foles (+0.8) didn’t have his worst game against the Pittsburgh secondary but he did save his worst play of the day for when it mattered most, with the Rams getting the ball back trailing just a score with a chance to win the game. Foles threw a hopeful ball down the middle of the field straight to the deep safety who had baited him into it by moving toward the sideline at the snap.
— Todd Gurley saw his first 14 snaps of action in this game, carrying six times for nine yards and getting little opportunity to impress. Those numbers are obviously not great, but they represent a complete dearth of blocking on the carries he did get, as he gained 10 yards after contact despite netting only nine in total.
DT Aaron Donald (+3.4)
LG Jamon Brown (+3.1)
WR Kenny Britt (+2.6)
CB Lemarcus Joyner (+2.4)
DE Ethan Westbrooks (+1.8)
S T.J. McDonald (+1.8)