Report Card: Game 10 vs. Raiders
Monday, November 22, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Quarterbacks: A

Ben Roethlisberger put together his most complete game of the season. He was especially effective on third down in the first half, converting 4 of 5 passes for 43 yards and scrambling 16 yards for a touchdown. The knockout blow came on his 22-yard TD strike to Emmanuel Sanders, the same play in which DE Richard Seymour was ejected.

Running backs: B

The Steelers rushed 33 times for 162 yards -- their second-highest total this season -- but 55 yards came on three scrambles by Roethlisberger and another 19 on a reverse to Mike Wallace. Rashard Mendenhall was held to 59 yards on 23 carries, but he scored on a 5-yard run, RB Isaac Redman added 27 yards on five carries, but he also caught a 16-yard touchdown.

Wide Receivers: B+

Wallace had a TD catch for the third game in a row, the first time a Steelers receiver has done that in five years, and it was Santonio Holmes-like -- catching a short pass and turning it into a 52-yard score. Wallace averaged 38.7 yards on three catches and had his third 100-yard game in a row. Sanders had a TD for the second game in a row.

Offensive Line: B+

Injuries to Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Kemoeatu and Jonathan Scott forced constant juggling on the offensive line again, but it didn't seem to disrupt the continuity, especially when Pouncey didn't return. After being sacked five times against the Patriots, Roethlisberger had lots of time and was sacked only twice by the Raiders, who were leading the NFL in sacks per pass play.

Defensive Line: A

About the only highlight for the Raiders was Michael Bush's 24-yard run in the third quarter, the longest run against the Steelers this season. Otherwise, RB Darren McFadden, who was averaging an NFL-best 108.6 yards per game, was held to 14 yards on 10 carries. The Raiders No. 2 rush offense finished with 61 yards on 16 attempts -- the first time this season they were held under 100 yards.

Linebackers: A+

Give the defensive line credit for creating space for the linebackers to make plays, and they made them. James Harrison had two sacks, a forced fumble and interception, but it was the play of ILB James Farrior that was most responsible for shutting down the Raiders' running game. Farrior had a team-high seven solo tackles, including two for losses, and also had a sack and knocked down a pass.

Defensive Backs: A

After allowing an average of 288 yards the previous five games, the secondary held Campbell to just seven completions and 70 yards. S Troy Polamalu played like his old self, including an interception and 37-yard return. CB Ike Taylor had two pass-interference calls in the first half, but he also had a big pass breakup, forced a fumble that led to the third touchdown and had a pick-6 negated.

Special Teams: A

Rookie Antonio Brown, playing for the first time in six games, continues to make plays when he gets a chance. He averaged 9.4 yards on six punt returns and also had a 67-yard punt return for touchdown negated by an illegal-block penalty. The coverage units were very good, holding the Raiders to an average of 16.6 yards per kick return and not allowing a punt return longer than 10 yards.

Coaching: A-

It was important for the Steelers to bounce back, and they did in all three phases. The defense was dominating against the run and even the pass. And the offense did a nice job of mixing the calls, especially in the first half, throwing 19 times and running 17 times in building a 21-3 halftime lead. But there has to be some accountability for a team-record 163 yards in penalties.