Well, that game was unpleasant.
Not a pretty game for the Steelers whatsoever. It didn’t come down to one dropped ball or one botched field goal attempt. It came down the team as a whole losing this game. The offense struggled for three quarters. The defense couldn’t get pressure on Flacco. Special teams had a lousy night. Half the team got hurt. Just a bad game by the Steelers anyway you slice it.
Let’s start with the offense. Not being able to score more than seven points in the first 45 minutes of the game did not bode well for the Steelers. The Ravens deferred on the opening kickoff, and the Steelers immediately went three and out. When the Ravens went up 7-0, I knew it was going to be a struggle. The Steelers have played so much better with a lead than they have when trailing that an early seven-point lead seemed insurmountable. It turned out to be just that.
Yes, Emmanuel Sanders dropped a ball on the two-point conversion that he should have caught. But in no way would that have assured the Steelers victory, which it seems like some people do not understand. It would have led to a tie game, but who knows what would have happened from that point. The way the defense was playing, I would not have been surprised to see the Ravens drive just far enough to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.
The defense could not get pressure on Joe Flacco, which I think was a huge factor in the outcome of this game. Troy Polamalu–who was so good on Sunday that he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week–was pretty invisible in this game. I noticed a few plays where Jarvis Jones seemed a bit confused (at least to me, watching at home). Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen didn’t play well. The secondary as a whole looked like a mess. But again, if you frequently give a quarterback nine seconds to throw the ball, he’s going to make plays. Especially someone like Flacco with such a strong arm. Give him time and he has no problem throwing it 70 yards downfield. Very frustrating night for the defense.
That brings us to special teams. Talk about frustrating. Shaun Suisham running to the line of scrimmage before the ball was snapped was a horrifying play to watch. Sometimes things like that just happen in games, but it was still brutal to watch. It is easy to say that that play lost the Steelers the game (hell, I even felt that way initially), but this loss went way beyond that. It was also a 50-yard attempt, which is not a sure thing.
The coverage game was also lacking. I said in my preview (as did probably everyone who wrote about this game) that the Steelers would have to contain Jacoby Jones, and sure enough, he almost ran one back. And he would’ve undoubtedly run it back had Mike Tomlin not been in the way which allowed Cortez Allen to finally catch up to Jones and tackle him. I said on Twitter that I loved Tomlin standing there and I stand by that. (I will also say that had John Harbaugh done the same thing, I would have absolutely lost my mind and I’d probably still be screaming about it.) I do believe Tomlin should and will be fined for it. Whether it was intentional or not, we’ll never know. Of course Tomlin says it wasn’t (and his explanation is a reasonable one) and of course the Ravens say he was. I am almost happy the Steelers lost this game, because if they had won, people would bring up the play for the rest of the season.
So here we are. The Steelers aren’t technically out of the playoffs, but the road there certainly got a lot more difficult. They’ll have to run the table and root for Tom Brady and company on December 22nd (gross). It’s possible. But with the Steelers heading to Green Bay that same day, it will be difficult. If Aaron Rodgers is healthy by then, it’ll be close to impossible. Buckle up; December is going to be quite a ride.
- Nice game by Jason Worilds. He got the only two sacks of the evening, for a total of 14 yards. He also had six solo tackles and four assists. Not bad at all.
- Scary, scary stuff with the Le’Veon Bell injury. I really feared the worst and thought at first he may have broken his neck or injured his cervical spine. Glad to see him able to walk off the field under his own power and hope his concussion is not as bad as looked. He played his heart out tonight. Losing him would be tough for the team, but I just hope he is ok. Some fans tend to lose sight of the fact that there are people in those uniforms. His health and well-being is first and foremost, the game is secondary.
- The offensive line allowed zero sacks for the second straight game. That’s even more impressive when you take into account that several backup offensive linemen wound up playing in the game.
- Speaking of that, losing Fernando Velasco for any length of time will be a huge blow to this team. He has been pretty remarkable stepping in for an injured Maurkice Pouncey this season.
- Bad times on the defensive line as well. Rolling with four defensive linemen for half of the game is a bleak situation. The Steelers are lucky no other D-linemen got hurt.
- Quality game by Heath Miller. He was the leading receiver for the Steelers with eight receptions and 86 yards. Always good to see Heath playing well.
- Why the Steelers didn’t run more no-huddle in the first half is a complete and total mystery. They used it late in the game and they were successful, but it was too little, too late. The team has been very successful in the last two games, and a lot of that success is because of the no-huddle. This team has also been pretty abysmal when playing from behind this season. I can’t fathom why the no-huddle was not used more frequently earlier in the game.
- Glad the Steelers have ten days off before the next game. They have a lot to chew on, and hopefully they’ll come out guns blazing against Miami. It will also hopefully give the injured guys some time to get healthy. I also think we fans need a mental break after this game—at least I know I do.