PIT-SEA Grades: Seahawks prevail in high-scoring affair

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seahawks’ 39-30 win over the Steelers.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

(AP Photo/John Froschauer)

PIT-SEA Grades: Seahawks prevail in high-scoring affair


Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Seahawks’ 39-30 win over the Steelers:

Pittsburgh Steelers

– Although he didn’t connect on all of them, QB Ben Roethlisberger put on a clinic in deep passing. He finished the game three of 10 on passes 20+ yards in the air, but on several of those incompletions, Roethlisberger delivered dimes against tight coverage that were either defended well or bobbled by his receiver. Take a look at his throws at 14:28 and 2:47 of the first quarter, or at 7:27 of the fourth, for examples. Otherwise, Roethlisberger had a solid game apart from of a pair of untimely interceptions that the Seahawks capitalized on. He was particularly good when pressured with a +4.5 grade on those plays, but more often nullified the rush with quick passes.

– Coming into the game, WR Markus Wheaton hadn’t caught more than two passes in a game since the team’s opening game against New England. Against the Seahawks he shattered that mark, hauling in nine of 12 targets (both career-highs) which resulted in 202 yards and a touchdown. Six of those catches gained either a first down or touchdown (4Q, 11:51), while two more put the Steelers offense in favorable positions on 1st-and-10. Doing the bulk of his work against CB Jeremy Lane (-2.2) and LB Bobby Wagner, Wheaton provided an effective alternative for Ben with Antonio Brown covered by Richard Sherman for much of the game.

– Rough day at the office for the Steelers secondary, particularly cornerbacks Antwon Blake (-5.3) and Ross Cockrell (-3.5). They combined to allow 14 receptions on 16 targets; three of which went for touchdowns, while Russell Wilson had a passer rating above 153 on those plays. Blake had a particularly rough time tackling, missing five on the day, and got called for two penalties in punt coverage.

Top performers:

RT Marcus Gilbert (+5.6)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (+4.7)
WR Markus Wheaton (+4.4)
C Cody Wallace (+2.9)
RB DeAngelo Williams (+2.7)

Seattle Seahawks

– CB Richard Sherman spent much of the game covering one of the NFL’s best receivers in Antonio Brown, and he played well while getting away with some physical play. Brown caught three of nine passes against him, gaining just 24 yards on those plays. Sherman did get help from his teammates on a couple occasions, including at 2:47 of the first quarter, which required a hit from Earl Thomas to force the incompletion.

– Solid, efficient game for Russell Wilson after finishing with a perfect passer rating on 27 aimed attempts (not counting two throwaways and a batted pass). He didn’t quite match Roethlisberger’s sublime deep passing (three total deep attempts), but was perfect working at intermediate distance, completing all eight passes there for 194 yard and four of his five touchdowns. This was also his second straight game without a turnover-worthy throw.

– Much of Wilson’s success was due to the play of WR Doug Baldwin, who was on the receiving end of three touchdown passes, including a spectacular 80-yard catch at 2:14 of the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Pittsburgh made it somewhat easy for him on several of those plays, such as at 8:20 of the fourth quarter falling for his double move, but this was still one of Baldwin’s best games of the season. He gained 99 of his 145 yards after contact, in part due to four broken tackles – only four receivers have forced more missed tackles this season than Baldwin’s 14.

Top performers:

RT Garry Gilliam (+5.3)
WR Doug Baldwin (+2.7)
QB Russell Wilson (+2.4)
CB Richard Sherman (+2.1)
DT Ahtyba Rubin (+1.9)

  • flyerhawk

    I never understand your ratings of Wilson. 345 yards passing 5 TDs no turnovers. Yet his rating is half that of Ben? And considerably lower than Hasselbeck?

    It’s just really strange.

    • Ross McCorkle

      They explained it relatively well in this article. They don’t grade based on box score outcomes. Russell did well and didn’t make mistakes, but he is far from the reason his team won.

      Ben, on the other hand, almost won in spite of his defense playing one of the worst games in recent memory.

      • Jay Black

        far from the reason his team won

        lol

      • Izach

        Disagree entirely here RW was the main reason his team one, being efficient should be better than just tossing the ball deep, Ben was tossing the ball deep too often and it led to steelers losing, I blame coaches on that largely but multiple plays were just hailmarys for no reason that’s not QB play ever and it shouldn’t be considered good QB play. I’d take a QB who Throws a 15yard crossed to a WR who runs it 80yards for a TD than a QB who hailmarys it hoping for a TD or PI call even if it a perfect pass but gets dropped because the WR was never open if the first place. PFF really needs to fix that aspect of their grading.

        • Sam Doohan

          No.

          PFF will score a play higher if that play was more difficult to make and particularly if it was well contested. Wilson played great in this game but he was playing against an absolutely dreadful secondary playing poor coverage patterns and taking mostly safe throws. Ben was making FAR less safe plays against an exceptionally good secondary and still being successful. That’s why Ben scores so much higher.

          Sure, you can say that you’d prefer Wilson and that’s perfectly reasonable but he was throwing against one of the worst secondaries in the league. Blake in particular might actually be worse for the Steelers D than just playing 10 men. That’s how bad he’s played. Not only does he routinely give up every play thrown in his area he constantly commits penalties too.

          • Izach

            Disagree, it’s much more difficult to find open WRs than it is to throw 50/50 balls IMO. If I find my 4th option wide open 12yds down field because of defensive miscue and hit him in stride that’s harder than just waiting for my 1st option to get deep, and chucking it as far as I can. That’s the issue, PFFs difficulty rating is off balanced IMO.

          • Izach

            I agree Ben played a tougher team but that doesn’t matter in grading that matters in analysis, when the grade looks bad you look back at quality of opponent when you artificially inflate their grade by attributing points based on opponent you have already skewed results. IMO Ben did do slot of good but failed more often than not by throwing to the wrong WRs, even if it was a perfect pass, doesn’t mean it was a good choice, honestly this game was too reminiscent of the way Bruce Arians used to call plays, Haley was doing a good job by mixing it up with the run and short passing but this game (maybe it was Ben audibling) he was dialing up deep balls was too much and it was why they failed so often.

          • Joe

            2 things, 1 they essentially never ran the ball against the Seahawks, like almost never. 2, where you beat Seattle is with deep passes, that is their true weakness on defense besides the running game. I think there were too many deep passes but that is a strength for the Steelers and a weakness for the Seahawks. Haley should have ran the ball more too, Williams did great the few run plays he had.

          • gomer_rs

            To attack deep was the game plan. If Seattle doesn’t get pressure their DBs will never hold up, even in 2013. They play a pretty consistent cover-3 shell and everyone knows it’s coming. The weakness of that defense is that there exist a set of defined “cover-3 beaters” that will almost always work, but those plays require the QB to hold the ball 3-4 seconds as the WRs make moves 15-20 yards beyond the line of scrimage.

            Pittsburgh was flooding the back half of the D for most the day and the pass rush wasn’t getting home. Pitt was going to keep at until Roethlisberger started getting hit.

          • Izach

            That’s the problem, the way to beat Hawks isn’t attacking deep, it’s attacking the LBs. their CBs have too much length and Earl has too much range to attack deep and it showed, only Wheaton on LBs and a 5th DB did any damage. We needed take advantage of the LBs getting burned by WRs by running right at them the next play, because when a LBs get beat he cheats the next time and he takes missteps towards the WR or backwards in coverage, we instead just kept going deep, we NEEDED to run to keep them honest, bens INT to Rubin is perfect example of trying to get cute with play call instead of pounding it in for a 1st. When they assume you’ll pass they’ll prepare for it

          • gomer_rs

            I’m a Hawks fan and I’ve seen Wright and Wagner in perfect coverage on WRs 10-20 yards down field to think that attacking short is the way to get at the Hawks. I’ve seen Wagner guard WRs as good as Randal Cobb step for step for 50 yards. Their poor play in this game was shocking and unexpected.

            With the exception of Tom Brady their have been two game plans I’ve seen the Seahawks struggle with consistently: (1) Stretch the defense down field and dump to a RB on a swing or a draw; or (2) flood the back of the zone so that there are 4 WRs against 3 DBs, works best when it’s 3 WRs and a TE so that the WRs are stretching the D vertically faster than the TE is getting into the seem.

          • Izach

            I’m familar with waggner and wright they are good and good in coverage but like I said its different when they already got burned by a speedy slot deep, when they see the ques for that play again they cheat towards it that’s our key to attack it? But we didn’t we showed deep pass and threw deep in the 2nd half they entirely shut down the consistency of the big play, it’s like the steelers were playing madden just going deep every time, the Hawks got smarter with defense and adjusted steelers didn’t

          • gomer_rs

            LOL. The Madden analogy is perfect. You’ve got a good analysis. I’m not sure how much the LBs were being beat or how much the D-line was just giving Roethlisberger a year and a day. The Steelers did take some awfully silly risks (the fake punt/FG) while skipping some obvious ones (going for 3 down by 5). Maybe the early success with the bomb made them think that they could launch it all game.

            They even launched it on the first Landry Jones play.

          • Izach

            Lol gotta make it easy for some ppl. And honestly I’m a fan of mike tomlin but if there is one gripe I have about him it’s calls like those, he’ll go for 2 a lot, he’ll call fakes FGs and punts, he will act aggressive but when games are on the line he goes conservative, it’s the opposite of passive-aggressive he aggressively-passive IMO.

          • Izach

            I mean we have 6 2pt conversions no other team has more than 3 and that not including failed ones that’s just the ones we’ve made. Yet he won’t go for a TD from 5 yards away down by 5 late in the fourth? don’t fake aggressive play calling by only being aggressive when it doesn’t count, do it when he games on the line and live with the results

          • gomer_rs

            Yeah. Tomlin’s decision making was terrible. He’s invested so much time and effort in preparing his team to go for 2 from the 3 yard line isn’t that almost the exact same situation as going for 7 from the 4? Hasn’t he basically made his team into THE team that can do this?

            And 2 from the 3 is only a 100% improvement that requires a 50% success rate to pay off, 7 from the for probably only needs a 40-45% success rate to pay off!

            Also, fake kicks against a team that starts Richard Sherman, Bobby Wagner, and Cam Chancellor on special teams!

          • flyerhawk

            The Steelers are still an NFL team.

            Wilson had a statistically near perfect game. Yet it was only half as good as Ben because of the quality of the defenses? That is a pretty huge leap.

            A TD% of 17% is absurdly good. A YPA of 11.5 is absurdly good.

            Ben played really well but he also had 2 really bad interceptions that were entirely on him. He should have never thrown that ball on Sherman as he perfect position. All Brown could have hoped to do is tackle Sherman.

          • Joe

            Brown tripped and fell so that entirely was not on Roethlisberger, if you’re talking about the 2PC then INTs shouldn’t count because it’s not the same as throwing an INT mid game. Yes, a 2PC INT can be returned for 2 points but you are much more likely to force that ball then if you are trying to score a TD. On that play Ben was basically throwing it away but still giving Brown a slight chance at catching the ball

      • gomer_rs

        RW was definitely why the Hawks won. If he doesn’t have one of the best games of his career there is no way they keep up with the Steelers and Roethlisberger.

    • Ross McCorkle

      I mean, do you really think 350ish yards against the leagues 30th ranked pass defense is more impressive than 450 against the leagues 2nd best unit? Use your brain here.

      • flyerhawk

        My point wasn’t that Wilson should or should not have been rated higher than Ben.

        However he didn’t throw 2 picks.

        My point is why is there such a huge disparity? Wilson was given the 7th best rating for a QB this week. Carson Palmer had a considerably higher rating than Wilson.

        That just seems very odd to me. Using PFF’s stats, Wilson was 21-30 with 2 throw aways, a batted pass and 3 drops. That is insane efficiency and regardless of who you are playing I would think that should rate as about as good a day as you can have.

        • Ross McCorkle

          Having a good day goes beyond being efficient. Making the tough throws is a bigger + for a player than making gimmie plays. All long passing tds aren’t created equal. For example RW gets 80 yards and a touchdown on his stat line for a play Doug Baldwin made. Whereas Ben had a 60 yard toss perfectly over Chancellor/Jeremy Lane.

          They look at that type of stuff.

          • flyerhawk

            Sure. Again, my point wasn’t that Wilson should or should not have a better grade than Ben.

            My point is that he got literally half the grade that Ben did. Would you argue that Ben played TWICE as well as Wilson(note they have upgraded Wilson to a 2.9 overall)?

            Ben had a great game. No question about that.

            FTR, I have had a problem with the PFF grading system for a while now because it tends to grade, in large measure, based on volume of plays. Phil Rivers(300 yards on 43 attempts with 4 TDs and 0 Ints) got an even higher grade(6.0) than Ben(4.7)

            Efficiency DOES matter.

          • AKjester

            The volume of play part of it seems to hit DBs a lot. Sherman has weeks where the other team doesn’t throw it his way. A DB can’t do any better than stopping the other team from ever throwing his direction. However, DBs that are challenged consistently get higher grades on those weeks.

          • flyerhawk

            Their DB ratings are highly suspect since they don’t use All-22 to grade the games. So they can only grade when the player comes into camera view.

            Not only does that ignore the away from the ball play it also ignores coverage concepts and who is ultimately responsible for covering someone and they wind up grading whoever the nearest DB to the play was.

            I suspect that they graded Lane harshly on the Wheaton TD but the truth is that Kam was the one who missed his coverage assignment.

          • AKjester

            Flyerhawk – what is your basis for saying they don’t use All-22? I don’t see how they could rate many of the players at all if they aren’t using it.

          • flyerhawk

            Well they flat out said that they only used network coverage for their grades. Now that may have changed this year. I’m not sure but to my knowledge it has not.

          • AKjester

            Dang, that is disappointing, but it explains some of the grades.

          • flyerhawk

            In fairness, they may have changed their methodology and now use All-22 but the problem is that the All-22 doesn’t come out until midweek and the grades usually are done within 24 hours of the game.

            IMO, it really only impact the secondary as most other players are in view. Even receivers don’t matter for the most part since they would be thrown to if they go open.

          • A tech god

            It was actually Earl Thomas that got tricked and went to help sherman. Even then if you watch the tape.. Lane was about 2 yards behind wheaton and caught up to him in stride and actually got his hand on the ball. Lane is the real deal

      • AKjester

        I think 350 yard on 30 attempts is much better than 450 on 59 attempts. When you look at the number of attempts, even against a weaker defense, Wilson definitely performed very well.
        Rothlisberger definitely deserved a high grade too. He did a great job of escaping pressure, completing a high percentage of his passes, and making some very good deep throws. He had at least one bad drop that would have made his day even better.

      • Griffonian

        I didn’t know yards was the be-all end-all. Roethlisberger threw it 25 more times than Wilson. That may have had something to do with the yardage. He also only had 1 TD and 2 Ints, whereas Wilson was 5-0. I don’t see how you can look at these performances and think Roethlisberger definitely had the better game.

        • gomer_rs

          I’m a Hawk fan and Roethlisberger had the better game. He was dropping the football into buckets down field that were just stupid hard throws that he was hitting consistently. Don’t get me wrong RW had a great day, but he wasn’t dropping the ball in on his WRs to the same degree that Roethlisberger was.

          And, when Bevel dialed back the O for a couple of drives RW became real inconsistent.

          • Jefferson

            Let me split the difference here: Roethlisberger did have a great game apart from his interceptions, but in no way did he have 2x the game of Wilson. Also, Wilson’s grade is still inexplicably low, all things considered.

      • David Stinnett

        Sea is 9th against pass

    • David Stinnett

      No, he had higher rating for the game

  • Kyle Ferguson

    It can be weird sometimes. The biggest thing is that Wilson had a lot help around him: Baldwin had a bunch of broken tackles and overall the Steelers secondary was crap, which gave a lot of easy throws for Wilson. Ben made a lot of great downfield passes against a Seahawks secondary, which is very difficult. Also, Ben was 36/55 and had 456 yards, he had to do a lot of the heavy lifting for that Steelers offense

  • AKjester

    Did Sherman get graded down for penalties that the evaluators thought he should have been called for? He had 2 interceptions (only 1 counts for statistics, but the second on the 2-point try is also important and highlights his strong coverage).
    Also, that is awesome to see an OL rated highly for the Hawks. Has Gilliam been rated highly in any other game this year?

    • flyerhawk

      The Hawks OL has dramatically improved over the past 2 or 3 games.

      • AKjester

        The improvement has been great to see. I say “see” but what I like is that I didn’t notice the offensive line during the game. That was good.
        Wilson looked slow when he tried to scramble and instead stuck to the pocket. I wonder if that helped the OL in pass protection.

        • flyerhawk

          I think the Steelers made a point of trying to keep Wilson in the pocket, especially after that one release throw to Lockett.

          That slowed down the outside pass rush which did contain him but gave him more time to throw the ball.

          The best part about the line right now is that they aren’t allowing a lot of matador plays anymore where there was just a jailbreak on Wilson.

          • gomer_rs

            This game was a perfect example of why teams go all out against RW despite his obvious ability to create when the pocket breaks down. He’s more than good enough to pick a D apart that’s not bringing pressure.

    • Tim Edell

      Gilliam is currently the 69th ranked OT but im sure this game should move him up… He cant go much lower though.

      • David Stinnett

        PFF has issued a ranking since this game, he’s still down in the abyss. Justin Britt however was most improved guard in NFL after first half of season, per PFF. Don’t remember number except it was in the +

  • A tech god

    PFF the bulk of wheatons work was not on Lane. Get you stats straight