The Steelers looked about as feckless as they have at any point in years by halftime of last night's game against the phantom first place Ravens in Heinz Field. It took all of about 15 seconds to reverse course toward a decent showing. It came at a hefty cost, however, with depatures of Rashard Mendenhall and Kendall Simmons to injured reserve.
Pittsburgh allowed rookie Joe Flacco to look more than adequate, as the quarterback led long drives to take the lead in the 2nd quarter and to tie the game in the 4th quarter. Still, at critical moments, after pulling with three points in the third and the Ravens' sole drive in overtime, they battered Flacco enough to exploit his inexperience.
For the most part, the playcalling suffered from some of the same problems as in the Eagles game. And plenty of the blame for the first half struggles falls to Roethlisberger, who had plenty of opportunities to get rid of the ball and waited far too long to do so. Even when the Steelers had an opportunity to put the game away, with a 1st and goal at the four up 17-13, they opted for dinky passing plays over more aggressive, and probably more effective, runs up the gut. A lot needs to change here.
Mitch Berger had a particularly poor night, shanking more than a few critical punts. The kickoff coverage, however, was mostly excellent yet again and has been one of the very pleasant surprises of the season.
Next week looks to be an interesting one going into the bye, with a Jacksonville team with whom the Steelers share a dicey recent history. Who really knows what the running back situation will be for that game, but whatever it is, the Carey Davis Mewelde Moore combo doesn't look all that promising. If the Steelers, however, can escape with a win, going 4-1 into the break with the problems they've had would be huge.
Despite the difficulties, and ultimately the cost, it was rewarding to shut up dancing-after-every-tackle Ray Lewis and his punk-ass counterpart, Bart Scott. Joe Flacco looks like he has a future and hopefully the Steelers can continue to ensure theirs by not losing a million running backs and getting their alredy buffeted QB killed.