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Week 1 vs. ATL
Receiving: 6 / 108 / 0 on 7 targets
Based on the skill sets of the two Steelers' receivers, it was fairly obvious even before the game that Ward's production would take less of a hit than that of Mike Wallace when the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger. Ward has always been more of a possession receiver who works the middle of the field and isn't afraid to run the "dirty" routes to get open. He did his normal Hines Ward-esque routine in this game --- making himself available often for his young quarterback. Many were predicting that the Steelers receivers might not have more than one or two 100-yard performances without Roethlisberger, but Ward was able to get one right out of the gate.
Even with Dixon being a starter for four games, Ward should still continue to be himself. If this offense is playing well, he'll get his numbers and make his contributions. Without him getting open to help Dixon on 3rd downs, the offense could struggle.
Week 2 vs. TEN
Receiving: 1 / 9 / 0 on 4 targets
Ward was targeted a couple times in the game, but ultimately only finished with one reception on a short bubble screen for nine yards. He was targeted once on a fade route in the end zone, but couldn't come down with the reception.
Week 3 vs. TB
Rushing: 1 / -2 / 0
Receiving: 3 / 34 / 1 on 3 targets
I'm sure if Pittsburgh needed Ward to make a few more play he could have but the game was out of hand by halftime. Ward had no problem getting separation on short passes when Batch needed him. On the last drive of the half when Pittsburgh got inside the Bucs 35 yard line they started looking for Hines Ward which is where he does so much damage. On a 2nd and 13 from the Bucs 35 yard line he made a short grab and broke it up field for 19 yards. He capped the drive with a 9 yard touchdown grab in the end zone from Batch. Ward didn't have to play much in the 2nd half with the game well in hand.
Week 4 vs. BAL
Receiving: 2 / 14 / 0 on 4 targets
Outside of his performance in Week 1 with Dennis Dixon at the helm, Ward has been held in check by opposing defenses (and by his own team's conservative approach) through 4 games. He is still the team's best option on manageable 3rd downs and in the intermediate-to-middle of the field. His presence as arguably the best blocking wide receiver cannot be understated.
Week 6 vs. CLE
Receiving: 5 / 54 / 1 on 8 targets
Ward was Ward in this game. Basically his entire style was personified in his TD catch. He caught a slightly-behind-him pass from Roethlisberger at the 5 yard line, was nearly stripped of the ball by a Cleveland defender, held on to the ball, AND plunged forward stretching for the goal line. He has always played that way -- catching tough balls over the middle and being a huge 3rd down asset. With Roethlisberger back and this offense clicking, Ward should continue to produce. He also could have had 1-2 more catches and 30 more yards if not for some of those overthrown balls to him.
Week 7 vs. MIA
Receiving: 7 / 131 / 1 on 10 targets
He looked like the Hines Ward of old, with Roethlisberger finding him all over the field, all day long. Ward made a beautiful 43 yard play after getting open while Roethlisberger scrambled; and later caught a masterful TD reception. He beat his man 1-on-1 for the first down yardage, then beat three more defenders and scooted into the end zone. Ward is clearly Roethlisberger's go to guy, and proved that he hasn't lost a step. With Mike Wallace as a serious deep threat, and a running game that even on a subpar day, still needed to be respected by the D, Ward should continue to have opportunities like he did today.
Week 8 vs. NO
Receiving: 3 / 15 / 0 on 6 targets
Due to the struggles mentioned in the Roethlisberger section, Ward was limited to very modest numbers in this one. Viewers were, however, given a reminder of his reputation for blocking. He blocked very well and was highlighted by the NBC team multiple times for his blocking ability, and had they shown every good block he made, it may have been redundant for viewers.
He's still a guy who is as tough as wide receivers get, and the team's success is very closely tied to his ability to get open and convert 3rd downs. When the Steelers' offense doesn't perform well, Ward's statline usually isn't good. When Ward has big numbers, usually the team has put up a lot of yardage and points.
Week 9 vs. CIN
Receiving: 3 / 10 / 1 on 6 targets
Ward certainly didn't set the world on fire in this game, but he did do what Hines Ward does. He's always been a guy who specializes in making critical plays in tight spots, and that continued as he scored a TD on a 3rd down play from inside the 10 in the second quarter. He also threw his typical share of run-springing blocks --- including a good "who can get lower" shoulder throw on Roy Williams on the aforementioned Mendenhall-dominated drive late in the game. Though he only caught three balls, Ward passed his opponent Terrell Owens to move into 3rd all-time in consecutive games with at least one catch.
Week 11 vs. OAK
Receiving: 3 / 28 / 0 on 5 targets
Ward was back in action for the Steelers this week after having his streak of consecutive games with a reception broken last week due to a concussion. He showed no ill effects of the injury, and was effective in the short and medium passing game. Ward has several plays where he came in motion down the back of the offensive line, and then would break into the flat as the ball was snapped. This drag route allowed him to get the ball in space and have two catch in runs for 13 and 10 yards respectively. He was also targeted on a deep ball when Big Ben was scrambling mid-way through the 4th quarter, but the ball was under thrown and fell incomplete. Ward was open on the play and it would have been a 30+ yard reception if he had come up with it.
Week 12 vs. BUF
Receiving: 7 / 107 / 0 on 8 targets
Ward had his best game since Week 7 at Miami in this game. He was back to his old self, constantly working the middle of the field, finding holes in coverage, and making himself available to his quarterback --- particularly on 3rd downs. The aforementioned delay route in the first quarter was a thing of beauty. At the snap, Ward nonchalantly trotted laterally along the line of scrimmage. After the other receiver on his side complete his clear-out route, Ward charged down the seam and laid out for a Roethlisberger pass to convert an important 1st down. Another play that was vintage Ward was a play on which he started on the left of the formation. He ran a crossing route while Roethlisberger was forced out of the pocket to his right. Ward broke off the route and sat in an empty space in coverage and caught a big 18-yard pass. He looks to be shaking off any rust brought along by his concussion. And while he has been surpassed by Mike Wallace in terms of talent and in terms of which receiver opposing defenses pay more attention to, Roethlisberger still targeted Ward more than anyone else on the team.
Week 13 vs. BAL
Receiving: 1 / 13 / 0 on 4 targets
Ward was largely quiet in this game. His four targets are significantly lower than he's used to getting. Ward worked the middle of the field frequently in this game, and it appeared as if the Ravens often bumped him with a linebacker along with covering him with a nickel back. The Steelers had much of their passing success on the perimeter against Baltimore's young secondary. This was clearly the strategy as both Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders had more targets than Ward. There were at least two uncharacteristic moments in this one for Ward though. He dropped a big 3rd down pass in the first half that would have given the Steelers a first down and put them into field goal range. The game could have been totally different and far less dramatic had Ward caught that ball. Then, on a goal-to-go situation, Ward looked more like a bullfighter than a blocker when trying to stop Terrell Suggs, who then blew up the run for a loss. Suggs had the best game of anyone on the field though, so it was a tough assignment.
Week 14 vs. CIN
Receiving: 8 / 115 / 0 on 10 targets
Ward regained "number one" receiver status for this game as he got more targets than Mike Wallace. It was only 10-9 of course, but the yardage was a staggering difference considering the trends of production with these guys. Ward worked the middle of the field and exploited a secondary missing Jonathan Joseph while the other starting corner, Leon Hall, covered Mike Wallace for the majority of the game. Ward had only one of his "signature" screen passes while most of his work was on intermediate-to-deep routes in the middle of the field. His best catch came on a fly down the seam on which Roethlisberger delivered a 2nd-and-30 pass slightly high. Ward leaped in the air and snagged it to help set up a 3rd-and-1, which would be converted. Considering he's on the downslope of his career, it was great to see this performance from Ward. It was "vintage."
Week 15 vs. NYJ
Receiving: 2 / 34 / 0 on 3 targets
Ward was almost the "forgotten" man for the Steelers in this game. The Jets seemed to be taking away the short-to-intermediate middle for most of the game, which is where Ward makes the most impact. The Steelers are also transitioning a lot of responsibility to rookie 3rd-round pick Emmanuel Sanders as well. Ward's biggest play in this game was an 18-yard catch on a 3rd-and-17 --- a patented Hines Ward play where he ran straight downfield and stopped as the ball found him at the markers.
Week 16 vs. CAR
Receiving: 3 / 38 / 0 on 8 targets
Ward is starting to settle into a role as this team's season gets longer. He's not the game-breaker type of receiver anymore, but he is fully capable of showing up in a big way as he did in the December 12 game vs Cincinnati when he had 8 catches for 115 yards. Ward was close to catching a touchdown in this game, but was interfered with in the endzone. It led to a Roethlisberger sneak in from the 1. The best asset of Ward's at this point is that he's a team guy. He's willing to teach younger receivers like Wallace, Sanders, and Antonio Brown, but he's also still capable of making plays and holding on to big 3rd down conversions.
Week 17 vs. CLE
Receiving: 5 / 45 / 1 on 6 targets
Ward has sadly (for Steelers' fans) become simply a role player type now. He hasn't reached 50 yards in the last three games and five of the last seven. Even when CBS showed a replay of one of his catches early in the game, it looked as if he had trouble cutting hard. He didn't put a foot in the ground and make a 90-degree cut as most receivers do. He looked to do it almost gingerly. It has been a few weeks since anyone has seen one of his signature bone-crunching blocks. And the Steelers had typically given him a few rushing attempts per year on reverses and allowed him to make plays. None of these things are happening, and he appears to be an afterthought to Wallace, Mendenhall, Heath Miller, and (sometimes) even rookie Emmanuel Sanders.
Week 19 vs. BAL
Receiving: 3 / 25 / 1 on 6 targets
Ward's prime is certainly in the past, but he brought out some "vintage" attributes to his performance. He was blocking Raven defenders fiercely and jawing with Ed Reed for most of the night. But the best of his night came on his touchdown catch. He has always been a good red zone target for Roethliberger, and he found a small open spot at the goal line to score a touchdown which tied the game at 21 after Pittsburgh had been down by 14. He has lost a step, but Ward still brings a ton of passion to being a Steeler --- and beating the Ravens. It looked like no one on the field wanted this game more than him.
Week 20 vs. NYJ
Receiving: 2 / 14 / 0 on 2 targets
Ward had a few early catches, including one down to the one-yard line on the Steelers opening drive, but like the rest of the passing game, he was mostly quiet in what could be his last game in Pittsburgh.
Week 21 vs. GB
Ward had maybe his best game of the season in the biggest game of the season. He came alive on the first half final drive with three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was an a very nice adjustment to a ball thrown to the back pylon. Ward also had a catch to set up the Steelers final TD and he threw a great block to help Mike Wallace get one of his best gains on the day on a WR screen pass.