Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Post-Game Report Card
Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Post-Game Report Card
It is no surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens again came down to a late-game drive and a last-second score to win it. However, these are the games that drive coaches, players and fans nuts if they come out on the wrong end, as there are always one or two plays that sealed the victory for the opposition.
In a game fit for a couple of Super Bowl winners, Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco matched each other strike for strike. With top receivers Antonio Brown and Torrey Smith largely bottled up by Ike Taylor and Lardarius Webb respectively, the quarterbacks had to find new targets, and delivered even as pass rushers barreled into them. Terrell Suggs had yet another sack, but was answered by the Steelers' own pro bowl rusher, LaMarr Woodley.
The Ravens knew it would not be an easy win against their struggling rivals, but they had a great chance to effectively end the Steelers' season and failed to do so. Who showed up to put the Ravens in position to win, and who were the culprits that let defeat escape clutches of victory? Click along to find out.
Alexander Diegel is a columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ItsaDiegel, "like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on google
Forget the statistics -- this was Joe Flacco's best game of the season. He eluded pressure all day and made some great throws in the run to keep the Ravens in a game that the Steelers' D threatened to dominate. He avoided the turnover that could have ended this one early and threw some strikes in tight coverage. In fact, with his scrambles to create time and find receivers down field, he looked a little like his opposition at quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger. Very impressive game from Flacco.
Running Backs: B
The box score looks about the same as it has all season, but Ray Rice seemed more explosive in his cuts today and did a good job getting tough yards with little space to do so. His 13-yard run to pick up a first down in the second quarter might have been his best of the season as he made a number of Steelers' defenders miss. Rice did, however, miss a key block just before halftime to take the Ravens out of field goal range, a play that the coaches will be sure to point out in the film room. Bernard Pierce looked solid as he put his head down a number of times to pick up some tight first downs and kept drives alive.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B
Torrey Smith's blistering start has been cooled for the second week in a row, as this time it was Ike Taylor that blanketed him for the majority of the day. Dallas Clark caught the Ravens' lone touchdown of the day, but it was Jacoby Jones who stood out on Sunday. He only had four catches, but he kept moving while Flacco was scrambling away from pass rushers and came back to the ball to convert some clutch first downs.
Offensive Line: D
The offensive line continues to be the Achilles' heel of this offense. They can't create holes for the runners, and they can't keep the pass rushers off of Flacco. What else is left to say?
Defensive Line: C
The Steelers rushed their season average (61 rushing yards per game) with 10 minutes left to go in the second quarter. Coming into this game, the Ravens knew the Steelers would try to get their running game going, and ended up having by far their best day of the season as rookie Le'Veon Bell had the breakout game coaches have been waiting for.
Haloti Ngata has been playing through an elbow injury and was a non-factor in this one. Backup defensive tackle Brandon Williams was the only lineman to make an impact in this game as he had a sack and a tackle for loss in limited playing time.
The linebackers have been the standout unit of this team, but chose a bad game to have an off week. Terrell Suggs was again a factor as he recorded his eighth sack of the season, but edge rusher Elvis Dumervil offset anything positive Suggs did. Late in the second half, Dumervil had back-to-back penalties, including when Ngata had Roethlisberger locked up for a sack on third down.
Daryl Smith continued his stellar season as he again led the team in tackles and had a clutch strip off a big Heath Miller reception to end a Steelers' drive just before halftime. The unit could have looked better in rush defense as Bell ran through and around the second phase of the defense before plowing into the safeties.
The Ravens slowed the Steelers' top wideout Antonio Brown, but Ben Roethlisberger simply spread the ball around as he found eight different receivers in this game. On the day, the Ravens' coverage was pretty good, but Roethlisberger's throws were better.
Special Teams: D
The kick coverage gave up two 40-plus yard returns, one at the worst possible time, as Emmanuel Sanders streaked up the sideline to set up Pittsburgh's game-winning field goal. The special teams were one Sanders step out of bounds from completely blowing this game, as he nearly took the kick to the house.
Justin Tucker made all three of his kicks, including a 46-yarder, but had a horrible onside kick attempt that gave Pittsburgh the ball and three points. Not a good day from this unit.
John Harbaugh looked desperate for the second week in a row, trying to steal points with over-aggressive play calling. The defense was playing well, so there was absolutely no reason to go for the onside kick down 13-9 with 10 minutes left in the game. Pittsburgh promptly kicked the field goal, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Dean Pees' defense did a great job as they adjusted on the fly to the Steelers' wild cat. There could not have been much, if any film at all on these plays, so Pees gets credit for his unit not being burned by the trick plays. On the other side of the ball, Jim Caldwell has to get something figured out with his offensive line, which was again ineffective in both run and pass blocking.