PIT-STL Grades: Bell leads Steelers, Big Ben injured

The top takeaways from Sunday’s Pittsburgh-St. Louis game, including the highest-graded players for each team.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

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:

Pittsburgh Steelers

— 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.

Top Performers:

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.

Top Performers:

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)

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • [email protected]

    Ben getting hurt is a big loss for us, no doubt. Given CIN’s 3-0 start, we will need to play smart (looking at you, Mike Vick) and use the resources AROUND Vick in order to ensure that his old, TO-prone ways do not hurt us.
    Bell, Brown, and Heath Miller should provide Vick with plenty of short to mid-range target opportunities, but the OL needs to be squeaky clean in order to prevent a recurrence of the fumble Vick had Sunday – on pressure right up the middle thru Cody Wallace (yes, our starting C Pouncey is hurt as well!).
    I think we will be OK.

    • crosseyedlemon

      The durability of Vick has to be a major concern as well. If any sportsbooks are offering a prop that the Steelers will be down to a third string starter by the time Rothlisberger returns I’d be inclined to play that.

      • [email protected]

        Sadly, that is a viable possibility (Vick getting hurt). Hopefully our O line keeps him healthier than his past teams have been able to. That and him playing ‘within’ the reduced expectations for him at his current age/place.

      • [email protected]

        Sadly, that is a viable possibility (Vick getting hurt). Hopefully our O line keeps him healthier than his past teams have been able to. That and him playing ‘within’ the reduced expectations for him at his current age/place.

  • Ridgeback

    Brutal next 5 games for the Steelers.
    vs Bal
    @ SD
    vs Arz
    @ KC
    vs Cin

    Really decent chance they lose 4/5 without Big Ben. KC and ARZ have outstanding run defenses and Bal and Cin aren’t that bad. On top of that I’m sure teams are going to start loading the box bc Antonio Brown is no longer that much of a threat until Vick can prove he can make the throw.

    • Izach

      Tend to disagree honestly Bal game will be tough due to only 3days to prepare with a new QB but then we get the extended break and an easy SD team to build confidence, ARZ isn’t as good as they seem have played teams who are a combined 1-8, and just piled on not saying we will win with Vick but it won’t be as bad as ppl think, CIN usually has trouble with us all the time and Vick should be comfortable by then or even Ben back (hopefully). If we lean on bell like we should Vicks exposure should be limited and Vick has never had weapons like he has now brown, wheaton, miller, bell, Bryant (after the Ravens game) heck even Heyward bey looks like he’s improved (maybe that Ben tho lol) and an OL this good (on the Eagles his OL had too many injuries). Only team that scares me is the Chiefs there D is crazy talented, and despite being 1-2 they played Broncos well and showed some fight back by only losing by 10 to packers. When they were down by a lot late in game. They are underrated CIN ARZ overrated.