9 winners and 4 losers after the Steelers’ 13-10 victory over the Raiders
The Pittsburgh Steelers returned to the field on Saturday when they played the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 16 of the regular season. The Steelers were winners of the tournament, but that doesn’t mean every player performed well or badly.
Players who play well can be called “winners”, while those who leave a lot to be desired can be called “losers”. It may sound harsh, but it’s the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check to see who landed on which side of the ledger after the last game…
Base line: 5 catches, 57 yards, 11.4 average, 1 TD, 25 long, 5 goals
Steelers fans were screaming from the rooftops to get Pickens to get more involved. Everyone has heard the answers to those statements. “He is a beginner and needs time to develop.” things like that. Well, outside of one game where he threw two passes, the rookie has been one of the most consistent forces on the Steelers’ offense. Deals like this will not let those people want more Pickens on a week in week basis. It was good to see him take charge when passes were thrown his way.
Base line: 7 catches, 66 yards, 9.4 average, 0 TD, 17 longs, 8 goals
It was Freiermuth who recommended that the Steelers all wear No. 32 jerseys before and after the game, and the former Penn State team did its best to honor the late Penn State. Freiermuth had a pass through his hands that, although a bit high, was meant to be caught. But other than that, he made up for it with some crucial conversion receptions in the second half. It was also great to see Freiermuth get 8 goals, this after not getting a goal last week in Carolina.
Base line: 16 carries, 53 yards, 3.3 avg, 0 TD, 14 yards long/6 catches, 42 yards, 7.0 avg, 0 TD, 19 long, 9 targets
The Steelers’ running game left a lot to be desired, but this was the kind of game fans saw a lot in their rookie season. Not only managing the soccer ball, but also using the receiving ability to move the soccer ball. In the second half, Harris was the receiver, not necessarily the runner, who was the difference maker for the offense. Moving the chains, setting up the offense was the theme, and it made all the difference to the offense when it needed it most.
Base line: 5 catches, 64 yards, 12.8 average, 0 TD, 15 longs, 7 goals
Johnson was hot in the first half, cold in the second, but the first half was something to watch. You can see the Raiders decide how they want to defend the Steelers receivers, and that was by shading towards Pickens. This left Johnson with a 1-on-1 match, which he would win easily. In the second half, the adjustments created less space for Johnson, and that opened things up for the others. These are the counter adjustments you want to see from the offense.
Base line: 26/39, 244 yards, 6.3 avg, 1 TD, 1 INT, 0 sack, 81.6 rating
Some will bemoan Pickett’s placement on the list of winners, but there are a few games where he plays better when it matters most leading to fairly mediocre performances. Pickett wasn’t perfect, far from it, but the last two minutes drive was orchestrated in a way that will make fans feel better than they did for the rookie just a few quarters ago. Beckett played well when it mattered the most, which is what should matter most.
Base line: 7 tackles, 4 solos, 2 sacks, 3 TFLs, 1 pass defense, 2 QB hits
While the rest of the defense forgot to show up in the opening round, Cam Heyward seemed determined not to let Franco Harris’ night be spoiled by the defense. From the moment Heyward stepped out of the tunnel conceding flag 32, he was ready to go all-in and give a vintage performance. Heyward played the lights, and every play he made was needed by the Steelers.
Base line: 3 sacks / 5 QB hits
The Raiders don’t give up many sacks, and the fact that the Steelers came home three times was huge. They will need this kind of production consistently to keep their playoff hopes alive, as well as hopes of preserving Mike Tomlin’s unbeaten season streak.
defense in time
Base line: 3 fast food
The takeaway was massive, but take a look at the stats below from ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. They talk about themselves…
The Raiders went 72 yards for a TD on their opening drive. Here’s what they did next:
14 yards (dot)
12 yards (dot)
53 yards (FG)
0 yards (intelligence)
20 yards (intelligence)
12 yards (dot)
13 yards (dot)
5 yards (dot)
0 yards (intelligence)
I can’t even say they miss Renfrow + Waller anymore.
– Bill Barnwell December 25, 2022
Base line: Similarities Galore
The thought of the Steelers not getting a win on Franco Harris’ night was as painful as it could be. Fortunately, the Steelers got up, just as the team did in 1972, and won the game. The similarities between the scores, etc. were insane, but it made this game very memorable for everyone involved.
Third, long defense
Base line: LVR – 6 vs. 12
Allowing 50% for the opponent is far from ideal for the Steelers defense, but their third, 16th, third, and other thirds were difficult to mark. The Steelers defense is accustomed to hanging their hat on putting the opponent in third and long positions. That was when they did the most damage. Now, fans are wondering how they’re going to pull off the conversion. The defense straightened up a bit in the second half, and those adjustments were welcomed.
Base line: 2/4 FG, 1/1 XP
Kicking in sub-zero temperatures can’t be easy, and I still think Tomlin should have gone for it rather than attempt a 52-yard field goal, but you’d expect a Pro Bowl kicker to make anything from 40 yards out. In a game with bonus points, you can’t leave anything on the field.
Base line: Anyone covering Hunter Renfrow
It started when Trey Norwood mistook Renfrew for a touchdown reception, but it continued throughout the game. It was cold, and maybe it was, but the Steelers’ interference certainly left a lot to be desired.
3 Down Down
Base line: 5 vs. 14
After a dominant Steelers third offense last week, they followed it up with a sub-par performance Saturday night against Las Vegas. However, the caveat here is how the team got the conversions when they needed them, and that would be the last offensive possessions of the game.
If you’d like a more detailed look at the list above, check out my podcast “Let’s Ride” where I tick each winner, loser, and more!
#winners #losers #Steelers #victory #Raiders