NFL Week 16 Degrees: Steelers get ‘A-‘ for unlikely win against Colts, Browns get ‘D-‘ for loss to Jets

For the past three and a half weeks, the Steelers have looked like a team that has forgotten how to play football, but it would seem that Sunday’s halftime had to change something, as the team that came out against the Colts for the second half like the Steelers team that started the season 11-0.

Based on how the Steelers offense has played out over the past few weeks, the idea that Pittsburgh could overcome a 24-7 deficit in the third quarter seemed unlikely, but that’s exactly what happened in a wild game that ended with the Steelers clinching the AFC North. title in a 28-24 victory.

Whatever Ben Roethlisberger said at halftime should have worked, because after nearly a month of struggling, the offense finally played capable football in the second half.

A knock on Big Ben the past few weeks is that he has not been able to throw an accurate deep ball. It was one of the many problems faced in the second half against the Colts, and there is no better evidence than this 39-yard attack to Diontae Johnson where Roethlisberger threw a perfect ball that flew 47 yards into the air not.

Roethlisberger then revived him with another impressively deep attack in the second half. This time, the 25-year-old passed to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the ball flew about 35 yards into the air.

The throw to Smith-Schuster comes with just under eight minutes left to play and ultimately gives the winning points to Pittsburgh. It was also Roethlisberger’s third pass in a performance where he completed 34 of 49 passes for 342 meters.

If the deep ball works for Roethlisberger, the offense is almost impossible to stop. For the past few weeks, all the opposing defenses have had to focus on the short cross routes. If you could stop it, you could stop the Steelers offense. However, this is not the case when the deep ball is working. If the Steelers can gain this momentum in the playoffs, they could become the Super Bowl contender we all thought five weeks ago.

Speaking of the playoffs, the Steelers are going to make some interesting decisions to take after Week 17, especially with the division already clinched. On the one hand, if Mike Tomlin decides to rest his rookies, you can not really blame him, and that’s because this team has a lot of players who can use a week of free time after a season in which the Steelers break is due to COVID. On the other hand, once the offense is finally synced, it might not be worth giving them the week off and making them look rusty in the wild card round.

Okay, let’s go to the grades for each game from Week 16. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into New Orleans’ big win over the Vikings played on Christmas Day, click here.

Tampa Bay 47-7 over Detroit (Saturday)

San Francisco 20-12 over Arizona (Saturday)

Miami 26-25 over Las Vegas (Saturday)

Kansas City 17-14 over Atlanta

Chicago 41-17 over Jacksonville

Cincinnati 37-31 Houston

Pittsburgh 28-24 over Indianapolis

Colts-Steelers Degrees by Bryan DeArdo (Like the Degrees? Hate the Degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)

Baltimore 27-13 over NY Giants

Giants Ravens Degrees by Tyler Sullivan (Like the Degrees? Hate the Degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)

NY Jets 23-16 over Cleveland

Browns-Jets Degrees by Josh Edwards (Love the Degrees? Hate the Degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)

LA Chargers 19-16 over Denver

Dallas 37-17 over Philadelphia

Eagles-Cowboys Degrees by Patrik Walker (Like the Degrees? Hate the Degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)

Seattle 20-9 over LA Rams

Rams-Seahawks Degrees by Jeff Kerr (Like the Degrees? Hate the Degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)

Carolina 20-13 over Washington

Panthers-Washington Degrees by Jordan Dajani (like the degrees? Hate the degrees? Let him know on Twitter.)