PIT-CLE grades: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers’ O-line lead way in road win

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Steelers' Week 11 AFC North victory over the Browns.

| 3 weeks ago
Le'Veon Bell

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

PIT-CLE grades: Le’Veon Bell, Steelers’ O-line lead way in road win


Pittsburgh Steelers 24, Cleveland Browns 9

Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Steelers’ Week 11 win over the Browns.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterback Grade: Ben Roethlisberger, 78.0

QB Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do anything extraordinary against the Browns, but his proficiency in getting the ball out to his playmakers helped the Steelers dominate time of possession in the first half. He did not complete a pass attempt over 20 yards in the air, but finished 20 of 25 on passes under 10 yards. Roethlisberger played well when he was kept clean in the pocket, earning a 91.4 QB rating and completing 77.8 percent of his passes when not under pressure. Still, the Steelers could have fared better in the red zone after failing to convert a touchdown until an untimed down to end the first half.

Ben Roethlisberger vs pressure

Top offensive grades:

RT Marcus Gilbert, 82.8

LT Alejandro Villanueva, 82.4

RB Le’Veon Bell, 80.0

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 78.0

WR Antonio Brown, 76.2

Bell and offensive line help the offense dominate play

RB Le’Veon Bell showed why he is touted as one of the best running backs in football on Sunday. Although known as a threat whether running or receiving, Bell did almost all of his damage on the ground against the Browns. He forced six missed tackles and posted 63 yard after contact on his way to a 146-yard rushing performance. Perhaps most notable was that Bell’s longest carry of the day was only 12 yards, as he lacked a big play to pad those stats. It was consistent and constant movement in the ground game for Bell, and the offensive line contributed to that as well. LT Alejandro Villanueva earned an 85.3 grade in run blocking, as he collapsed the defense often, creating space for Bell to work. RT Marcus Gilbert was solid in pass protection as he kept a clean sheet, although he didn’t shine quite as much in the run game.

Top defensive grades

LB Ryan Shazier, 88.6

CB Artie Burns, 83.5

S Michael Mitchell, 79.4

S Sean Davis, 77.6

LB Lawrence Timmons, 76.6

Big day for rookie Artie Burns

Rookie first-round draft pick Artie Burns had an active day at cornerback, with the Browns targeting him on 10 occasions. He did give up a 14-yard touchdown on a post route to tight end Gary Barnidge, but allowed just four receptions for 34 total yards on the day. Even more impressive was how well he was able to play the ball in the air, finishing the game with an interception and two pass breakups.

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback grade: Cody Kessler, 48.1; Josh McCown 36.9

McCown replaced the injured Kessler in the second half, and found himself under pressure on 15 of his 33 dropbacks. From those 15 plays, he was sacked four times, ran once, and completed just 40.0 percent of the passes he attempted. His NFL passer rating dropped from 86.4 without pressure to 57.9 when the Steelers’ defense got there.

Top offensive grades

LT Joe Thomas, 81.7

WR Terrelle Pryor, 78.6

LG Spencer Drango, 76.7

TE Gary Barnidge, 72.8

RT Austin Pasztor 70.8 

Frustrating day for rookie WR Corey Coleman

The Browns’ top draft pick from this spring, wide receiver Corey Coleman, found himself having a frustrating day, despite seeing a team-high 10 passes thrown his direction. Coleman was able to reel in just four receptions, dropping two passes and finishing the game averaging just 0.83 yards per route run, well down on his season average of 1.52. Elsewhere at receiver, Terrelle Pryor had another solid day, hauling in all five catchable passes thrown his way for 97 yards.

Top defensive grades:

S Derrick Kindred, 80.9

CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun, 80.4

OLB Jamie Collins, 77.7

DE Stephen Paea, 73.8

NT Danny Shelton, 72.8

Cleveland defense struggles against tough running attack, but holds in red zone

The Steelers’ rushing attack was consistently able to get 4–5 yards per carry on Sunday, leading to long drive after long drive. The Browns’ defense desperately needed some rest in the first half, but wasn’t able to get it as they struggled getting off the field. The silver lining throughout the game was the ability to stand tall in the red zone and force field goals. Safety Derrick Kindred led the defense in coverage along with CB Boddy-Calhoun, as they both had two pass breakups. Jamie Collins also had a solid day, particularly in coverage and when rushing the passer, but his two missed tackles hurt his overall production. It was a difficult day for the middle of the Browns’ defense, as they were moved backwards early and often, losing leverage at critical points. Although they didn’t surrender any really big runs, the constant peppering of 5-yard gains was enough to keep them on the field for sustained periods of time.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Ryan Shazier, LB, Steelers

PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.

| Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst

Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.

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