Ravens Complete Sweep, Reignite Rivalry

You know, you can only leave Torrey Smith open so many times before he's actually going to catch it. The Steelers learned that the hard way.

For all the mocking we do of Joe Flacco, he's now led last-minute scoring drives to win at Heinz Field in consecutive seasons. It doesn't automatically make Bert an awesome QB or anything, but I'll give credit where it's due. The guy isn't completely worthless. Well done, Unibrow. Hopefully the Steelers will get another shot at thwarting him in the postseason.

It's a tough, painful loss, and the Steelers now definitely owe the Ravens a good deal of payback, but I'll take away positives where I can. The receiving corps continues to be stellar. Mike Wallace, who is usually big early in games, showed up late with a go-ahead touchdown. Max Starks did a better job containing Terrell Suggs than anyone on the Steelers has in some time. Suggs obviously made a great play intercepting a bubble screen in the third quarter.

The most surprising thing is that that hasn't happened early with how often the Steelers got to that stupid play and how much they telegraph it when they do. It's tempting to blame Bruce Arians, who is never ever shy about deploying the dreaded Bubble Screen of Death, but this was in a no-huddle situation, so it was more than likely on Roethlisberger for calling the play. It's the second time he's been intercepted in the last few weeks trying to force a receiver screen. The other time, the offense was in hurry up and he just chucked it out there when the receiver seemed confused as to what was going on. So Ben might just have to shake things up with the play calls if the offense wants to go no-huddle as much as he would like.

Ike Taylor was solid in coverage on Boldin, but did get torched by Smith on the ball that was dropped right before the TD. Polamalu went to help in coverage on the other side and Flacco had his guy open deep. Honestly, the Steelers would have been better off if Torrey caught the first one. It would have left the Steelers with 35 seconds left and multiple timeouts needing only a field goal. So the drop turned out to be a fortunate break for Baltimore.

James Harrison is all way back to his dominating form. The Steelers would have been destroyed in that game without Deebo. Then again, had the Steelers only had LaMarr Woodley on the other side last night as well, things might have been different. At least one thing to be encouraged about if the Steelers get a third crack at Bawlmer this year.

Speaking of Deebo, did you see Ray Rice DUCK A BLOCK on Harrison? Oh man, the Ravens are just so badass, I can't take it.

I've seen some Steelers fan bitching about the officiating, which is unfortunate, but there were tough calls both ways. Don't be like Ravens fans. They won outright. The only call (or non-call) that bothered me was the helmet-to-helmet shot from Ray Lewis. Not only was it evident and flagrant but it resulted in Ward being injured. Isn't the NFL trying to clamp down on those kind of things? Shit, they flagged Ryan Clark for hitting a receiver in the back last season. And they rightly got Clark on a helmet shot he issued just a few minutes after Lewis' last night. "God's Linebacker" is allowed to decapitate whomever he pleases, it seems.

Somehow, in the last two seasons, the Ravens have gotten away with Haloti Ngata punching Roethlisberger in the face and breaking his nose, Jameel McClain concussing Heath Miller with an illegal hit and Ray Lewis' cheap shot on Hines last night. No flags for any of those. I'm sure Lewis will be fined, but I really don't give a shit about a fine. What does that do for anybody? Nothing. It sucks. Not reading anything further into this, but it's shitty nonetheless.

Anyway, I'll just be here agonizing over Larry Foote's near-pick that would have closed out the game for a few more hours before I start looking forward to the equally important showdown with Andy Dalton and the upstart Bengals next week. Pittsburgh doesn't have itself in the best position for taking the division now, but it's still entirely possible they can come away with it. And, failing that, there's still a Wild Card berth that's by no means guaranteed.

The Steelers gave Baltimore a battle and could have easily won. It sucks that they didn't, but it's better than a shellacking that leaves them with the perception that they're old and done. This team will be all right. Now they just have to play well enough to get a chance for redemption.


Koz said...

It was such a close game that really making just one more play would have sealed a win. The Steelers got torched on 3rd downs, including too many third and longs. If they get off the field in just one more of those, let alone two or three, it's a totally different game.

It's disappointing to have lost this game when the O-Line played well. I would have expected the loss if Ben was sacked a half dozen times. The 60% UF Gator line did their job.

"Season sweep" is never fun, but it's a bigger deal for the Ravens than it is for the Steelers [e.g., November Gatorade Showers]. No reason to think the Steelers can't win a potential third game.

I have no idea what to expect from the AFC in the playoffs. I'm very interested to see what the Bengals bring next week.

Jim Philips said...

I didn't expect that they don't take those little thing under consideration. I and priceperhead hope that they can do better next game.