As with Kellen Clemens earlier this year, the Steelers gave Troy Smith his first victory in his second career start and surrendered 180 yards on the ground to a offense absent its feature back in a lackadaisical 27-21 loss to the Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium.
With little riding on the game other than possibly determining who they might play this weekend and going perfect in the AFC North, the Steelers looked like they lacked purpose from the get-go, having Willie Reid put the opening kickoff on the ground, then allowing the Ravens offense go the remaining 35 yards for the first score. The defense, despite playing most of the starting unit for a good portion of the game, couldn't generate much in the way of pass rush and couldn't contain the ground game once again.
Many have been clamoring for Reid to get his chance and he did made us forget the one true saving grace of Allen Rossum: that he can, for the most part, hang onto the ball. Having said that, how the officials can initially rule that Reid's second overturned fumble was out before he was down was galactically stupid. I understand officials feel like they can be bailed out of bad rulings by replay, but there was no reason the Steelers should have been forced to waste a challenge on a play when Reid was lying on the turf with both knees down.
The running game didn't inspire much confidence in advance of the Jaguars slugfest that awaits Saturday night, with Najeh going only 27 yards on 12 carries. The lone offensive bright spot was Santonio Holmes, who didn't really have any business being in the game, but put up 98 yards on catches with a touch.
With Ben, Troy and Hines sitting to avoid injury, the team still couldn't avoid tweaks to key players, with Max Starks and Silverback having to leave early and their status unknown going into a short week.