By Christina Rivers

The Pittsburgh Steelers found themselves in hostile territory at Edward Jones Dome this afternoon, where pre-game fireworks caught the turf on fire and had to be extinguished and delayed the start. While the St. Louis Rams defense put together stiff competition, in the end, they could not gain the lead and the Steelers walked away with a 12-6 win.

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With an average performance on offense despite the return of Le’Veon Bell to the offensive backfield, it was an interception in the fourth quarter by veteran safety Will Allen that shut down Nick Foles and and set up the winning field goal by Josh Scobee. A game that was definitely hard-fought in the trenches along both the offensive and defensive lines of both teams, Michael Vick came in for an injured Ben Roethlisberger and managed the offense effectively enough to get the team in place for a 41-yard field goal. The Steelers defense stood firm, with a great play by Antwon Blake on Kenny Britt that was overturned as an incomplete pass and allowed Pittsburgh to take the victory formation after a turnover on downs for the win.

Offense Grade: B-

Roethlisberger was having a fairly well-played game, leading the Steelers offense prior to a third-quarter injury that saw him go down after another player rolled up on his knee, forcing him to leave the game on a cart. With his offensive line doing its best against a Rams defense that often threw nine men into the box, Roethlisberger completed 20 of 24 passes for 192 yards before the injury. His interception toss would have been more costly had Darrius Heyward-Bey not been there able to immediately drop the Eagles defender.

Bell’s return did not produce quite the offensive fireworks on the ground, but the Rams provided a formidable effort in preventing him from getting much of a burst and forced Pittsburgh to utilize the short pass more often. Bell carried the ball 19 times for 62 yards and scored the lone touchdown as he barely crossed the plane of the goal-line. He also had a fumble that he was able to recover.

The receiving game was minimized as well as Roethlisberger, and later Vick, were forced to get the ball out quickly due to pressure from St. Louis. Antonio Brown was held to 11 receptions for 108 yards to lead the team. Bell did provide an extra outlet as a receiver, adding 70 yards of his own on seven catches on a day. With a few mistakes, the offense did just enough to get the ball down the field to set up scoring opportunities by the special teams.

Defense Grade: B

With the offense managing, but not over-producing, the Steelers defense was called on to be smart in dealing with Foles, Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Tre Mason – the Rams offensive leaders for Week 3. Stephon Tuitt led the Steelers in tackles with six total and a sack on Foles. Arthur Moats also had a sack on the day as Pittsburgh kept the pressure on Foles, limiting him to 197 passing yards and no touchdown tosses.

With Vick struggling to get the offense to convert, it came down to Pittsburgh’s defense to stand strong with plenty of time for the Rams to make a comeback. It was the interception by (Will) Allen on a floating duck of a pass by Foles that took the air out of St. Louis’ sails. Bud Dupree was instrumental in creating pressure in the final minutes of the fourth quarter as well as the Blake play on Britt that stalled any hopes the Rams had of gaining the upper hand. It may not have been ‘Steel Curtain’ worthy, but the defense stood in the face of adversity and took it on without hesitation.

Special Teams Grade: A

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Steelers placekicker Josh Scobee has been something of a goat for two missed field goals and a PAT over the course of the last two weeks, but on Sunday, he was solid. After the Steelers offense failed to make a two-point conversion early in the game, they relied on the leg of Scobee to help them secure the win. Scobee was two of two on the day with the game-winning field goal sailing 41 yards.

Jordan Berry once again placed two punts inside the Rams’ 20 yard-line and averaged 41.0 yards on four total kicks. His kicks had nice hang time, allowing the Steelers coverage team, including Shamarko Thomas, to limit the Rams to just 34 yards (kickoffs and punt returns combined).

Running back Jordan Todman was asked to handle the only kickoff return on the day for Pittsburgh. He was able to turn the kick into a 22-yard gain.

Coaching Grade: B

Something is clicking among the coaching staff for Pittsburgh. Defensive coordinator Keith Butler and his assistants saw a strong performance from a defense many were sure could not hold up under intense pressure. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and his assistants dealt fairly well with the packages the Rams defense were throwing at them, and when Roethlisberger went down, they were able to get Vick to play conservatively in order to chew up the game clock and keep Pittsburgh in the game.

Just before Scobee kicked the winning field goal, Tomlin looked like a man who desperately wanted to run an option play and take a chance for a touchdown. The conservative approach paid off. Game clock management went in Pittsburgh’s favor as well as the team utilized their timeouts at appropriate times to get on the same page.

Overview

Before this game, Haley told the media that the Rams defense would be their biggest test so far this season. He wasn’t wrong. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, a man intimately familiar with Pittsburgh and how they prepare and play, had his defense dialed up to give as many different looks as possible to the Steelers offensive line. Short of a handful of penalties, the offensive line was exposed to the flame but didn’t get completely scorched.

The Steelers have a short week of preparation ahead as they get ready to face their AFC North rival, the Baltimore Ravens, in Week 4 at Heinz Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. ET.

Roethlisberger will have an MRI on the injured left leg and be evaluated.

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Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a journalist and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied Exercise Physiology and Sports Psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL as well as a published author. Her work can be found on
Examiner.com.