News & Analysis

PIT-IND grades: Roethlisberger grades very well in Steelers win

<> at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 24, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Indianapolis Colts 7

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Pittsburgh Steelers' Thanksgiving victory over the Indianapolis Colts:

Pittsburgh Steelers 

Roethlisberger has a big game and earns a turkey leg

Quarterback grade: Ben Roethlisberger, 82.2

Big Ben has had a subpar season to this point, but against the Colts he looked more like the QB we’re accustomed to seeing. There were several risky and off-target throws from him, but otherwise, Roethlisberger was on the money, particularly when throwing to Antonio Brown. The two connected for three scores, one of which was an impressive back-shoulder throw-and-catch late in the first quarter. The lack of pressure generated by the Colts' defense was undoubtedly a factor as well — on the season, Roethlisberger’s passer rating has dropped from 111.2 to 50.8 when the opposing rush gets there, but that happened on just 15 percent of his dropbacks against Indianapolis.

roethlisberger-vs-colts-pressureTop offensive grades:

RT Marcus Gilbert, 84.3

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 82.2

LT Alejandro Villanueva, 81.0

WR Antonio Brown, 80.8

C Maurkice Pouncey, 77.4 

Steelers’ offensive line deserves serious credit for the win

Pittsburgh’s offense moved the ball in both the running and passing games, and much of the credit should go the offensive line. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert had the best showing of the group, allowing a single pressure in 23 pass blocks while getting the better of Colts DL Henry Anderson in the run game. Fullback Roosevelt Nix is also worth noting for his performance on the ground, as he came into the game with just 13 snaps on the season, but played 15 in this one, making multiple key blocks to clear the point of attack, with most of them coming against linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.

Top defensive grades:

CB William Gay, 91.0 

S Michael Mitchell, 86.1

DI Javon Hargrave, 81.1

CB Ross Cockrell, 79.4

CB Artie Burns, 76.0

Steelers’ defense makes it a long night for the Colts

The Steelers’ defense was able to rattle Colts QB Scott Tolzien with pressure, as they sacked him three times, hit him eight times and hurried him another seven times. Javon Hargrave racked up one sack, one QB hit and three hurries himself on his 33 pass-rushing snaps. The Steelers’ defensive backs feasted on the opportunities the pass rush gave them. William Gay was thrown at four times and allowed two catches for 22 yards, but he broke up one pass and intercepted another. Tolzien’s QB rating when throwing at Gay was 27.1. Michael Mitchell was able to intercept one pass and Ross Cockrell broke up another.

Indianapolis Colts

Quarterback grade: Scott Tolzien, 66.3

Drops and pressure doom Tolzien’s performance

Scott Tolzien had some issues dealing with the Steelers’ pass rush. Tolzien’s QB rating dropped from 76.8 to 31.3 when he was under pressure by Steelers’ defenders. The Colts’ wide receivers did not do Tolzien any favors with their four dropped passes. Tolzien had most of his success throwing short passes and did not fare well when he threw the ball deep, as he only completed 1-of-8 passes targeted 20 or more yards downfield, and had two deep throws intercepted.

Top offensive grades:

T Anthony Castonzo, 80.5

G Joe Haeg, 75.4

G Jack Mewhort, 72.0

TE Jack Doyle, 71.3

WR Donte Moncrief, 69.9

Colts’ offense is lifeless without Luck

The Colts’ run game was mostly non-existent in this one, as Frank Gore only rushed for 28 yards on 15 carries, with 21 yards coming after contact. That means the Colts’ offensive line was providing Gore with roughly 0.5 yards per carry before he was hit by a Steelers’ defender. Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, T.Y Hilton and Erik Swoope all dropped passes.

Top defensive grades:

CB Darius Butler, 82.7

CB Patrick Robinson, 74.4

DT David Parry, 73.5

DT Hassan Ridgeway, 71.8

LB Akeem Ayers, 71.6

Colts’ defense wasn’t able to stop the Steelers

The Colts came into the game with the worst pass rush in the NFL, getting pressure on only 23 percent of opponent’s dropbacks – well below the league average of 33 percent – and that didn’t change against Pittsburgh. That made for a rough time for their back seven, particularly corner Vontae Davis, who had an already difficult task of shadowing Antonio Brown in coverage. Davis only managed 11 coverage snaps, but spent all of those plays aligned opposite Brown, and he was beaten for three catches and two touchdowns, good for a 158.3 passer rating allowed — a mark the represents a perfect rating for QBs.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: William Gay

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.

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