Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackThe Steelers played one of their best games of the year as they punished the Cincinnati Bengals 30-20 in Week 15. While the Steelers are almost certainly out of the playoffs this year, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been healthy and performing well this year. Roethlisberger has completed 64.8 percent of his passes and he has a 25-11 TD-interception ratio.Will he or won’t he? That’s been the question placed in front of QB Aaron Rodgers’ name for the last month. Rodgers’ left shoulder injury would not allow him to play in Week 15 against the Cowboys, but he could return here. If he can’t, Matt Flynn will get the call again. Flynn led the Pack to a miraculous come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys that allows Green Bay to control its own playoff destiny.
- OffenseWhile this has been a disappointing season for the Steelers, it appears that the Steelers have found their signature running back in rookie Le’Veon Bell. While Bell has run for 646 yards and six touchdowns, his 3.3 yards per carry mark means there is much progress to be made. Antonio Brown has been a game changer, catching 95 passes for 1,307 yards and eight touchdowns.The Packers have been dependent on their ground game this year and rookie Eddie Lacy has been a major find. Lacy has run for 1,028 yards and has eight TDs. He seems to thrive on contact and he has played a key role since Rodgers went down and the Packers’ passing game has lost some of its effectiveness. Jordy Nelson and James Jones are dependable receivers.
- DefenseThe Steelers don’t have the dominating defense they have had in the past. While they rank 11th overall, they appear to lack the speed and quickness they have had in previous years. Linebacker Lawrence Timmons has been the defense’s most productive player. He leads the team with 108 tackles and he also has six passes defensed. Strong safety Troy Polamalu has 61 tackles and four forced fumbles.The Packers were getting pushed around and punished by the Cowboys in the first of their Week 15 meeting, but they rebounded with an excellent showing in the second half to make the comeback win possible. Linebacker A.J. Hawk has been the Packers’ most consistent defensive player and he leads the team with 110 tackles. Tramon Williams and Sam Shields each have three interceptions.
- Special TeamsBrown’s speed allowed the Steelers to make a huge play on special teams against the Bengals as he scored on a 67-yard punt return in the first quarter. The Steelers have done a solid job covering kickoffs and punts. Shaun Suisham has made 27-of-29 FG attempts this season.The Packers have been fairly effective covering kickoffs and punts this year, and punt returner Michah Hyde has been solid for them throughout the season. Mason Raymond has had an excellent year, making 30-of-34 FG attempts.
The Packers have a shot to win the NFC North and if Rodgers returns to the lineup, they have a much better chance of getting there. They should be quite competitive in this home game against the Steelers.