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Steelers-Ravens Recap Week 12

The Steelers leave Baltimore with a HUGE victory, 13-10. It wasn’t pretty but it’s a win, which is ultimately all that matters.

– Ben got off to a rough start in more ways than one. On the 1st drive, Ben missed two receivers with bad throws, then on the 2nd drive, Ben is smacked across the face, resulting in a bloody and ugly looking broken nose. Ben, being the champion that he is, soldiered on and made some nice plays as the game progressed. He did have a spotty game, though, with a number of plays where he held onto the ball for what seemed like eons. Some of these plays resulted in sacks and one resulted in a fumble, which was luckily recovered by the Steelers. To his credit, the beat up O-line wasn’t exactly great and WR’s at times were having trouble getting separation. Still, Ben did miss dumpoffs in favor of sacks, which is pretty bad for such an experienced QB.

– Wallace had a great catch and run for about 24 yards in the 2nd half. He ended the game with 5 catches for about 76 yards. Rookies Manny Sanders continues to impress, coming away with 3 catches for 49 yards including a great catch near the sideline that set up a Steeler FG. The kid is legit. Ward was quiet with just 1 grab and a really bad drop in the 1st half that would’ve kept a Steeler drive alive in Raven territory. TE DJ Johnson actually had 3 grabs (what?) and looked decent as a receiving target. Rookie Antonio Brown also had 3 grabs and looked really good. Mendy chipped in 3 grabs but also had a drop. Heath Miller only had 1 grab and was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the 2nd half. Backup RB/FB Isaac Redman had 2 grabs and one of them might have been the play of the game on the offensive side of the ball. On a 3rd and goal, Redman catches the ball at the 7 yard line. No problem, as Redman breaks about 3 tackles in route to a late, game-winning TD. Amazing play by the youngster.

– Mendy had a subpar game. I don’t know if the season is wearing on him or what’s going on but run after run Mendy hesistated in the backfield and failed to hit holes with any sort of authority or quickness. It’s becoming apparent that Mendy does not seem to like contact very much, either. Not one broken tackle tonight. Redman didn’t do much in the run game either.

– The beat up and much maligned O-line had another rough night. In short yardage situations the O-line failed to do much blocking or get much push as the Steelers run game sputtered time and again. Guard Ramon Foster had problems with the Ravens interior line all night. Both tackles, Flozel Adams and Jonathon Scott looked like utter dogshit in pass protection. Scott in particular was abused all game long by Terrell Suggs. To be fair, the O-line did play decent at times in both run and pass protection, but Mendy failed to hit holes and Ben held onto the ball way too long at times. Still, it’s obvious the O-line should be a top priority in the offseason.

– The Steelers D-line had an active night. The Ravens run game was shut down for the most part. Hood actually had a sack! In the 4th quarter, with the Ravens still leading, Brett Kiesel had a HUGE play on 3rd down where he batted down a Flacco pass. Who knows what would’ve happened if Kiesel doesn’t knock that pass down. The Ravens were entering Steeler territory at the time.

– Farrior had another really solid game, leading the team in tackles with 6 and an assist. He also chipped in on a sack where he got to Flacco practically untouched up the middle. Harrison had another strong showing. He ended the game with just 3 tackles and an assist but that doesn’t tell the true story of his impact in this game. He had a good amount of pressure on Flacco throughout, played some good pass coverage and caved in his side of the line on run plays, running over defenders. And somehow, he didn’t get a personal foul! Amazing! Timmons was fairly quiet at times, but still had a nice game, with some decent pressure on Flacco at times. Woodley didn’t do much in run support (just 2 tackles) but he had a decent amount of consistent pressure on Flacco throughout the game.

– McFadden and Clark both had pretty awful games. McFadden in particular was picked on time and again. And for good reason – his coverage was pretty poor throughout. With the Ravens backed up deep in their own end in the 1st half and facing a 3rd and long, McFadden, for some reason, lets his man go right by him along the sideline while he breaks in on the slot WR. Miscommunication with the safeties? Too much weed? I don’t know but it resulted in a huge play for the Ravens. Earlier in the game, with the Ravens once again facing a 3rd and long deep in their own end, Clark allows Raven WR Anquan Boldin to fly right by him for another HUGE gain. Why Clark was matched on Boldin one on one? Who the fuck knows, so it’s hard to fault Clark too much on the play, but it shows how unathletic Clark really is. Taylor was fairly quiet as yet another team has decided to basically ignore him in favor of picking on Clark, McFadden and Gay. Troy was a monster in this game, helping out all over the field and finishing the game with 4 tackles but more importantly a fumble/sack of Flacco for the play of the game which set up the eventual game-winning TD.

– Lebeau allowed his team to once again play aggressive, with a number of blitzes and man coverage. For the most part, he and the defense got the job done tonight, with the Ravens only scoring 10 points. There are still some areas of concern, though. Like why was Clark matched up with Anquan Boldin, arguably the most dangerous WR on the team? Why was Farrior still matched up with Rice? Why is this defense still having big problems with 3rd and long? Why is the secondary still getting burnt? Why did McFadden allow Donte Stallworth to run up the sideline uncovered? These things need to be improved upon. Overall, I’m really liking how Lebeau has allowed his defense to really go after the QB more, but there are still some head scratching calls, like the 3 man rush, which seems to never result in a positive play for the defense.

– Arians had a new look for the Steelers – the pistol! I think this was obviously done because of Ben’s broken foot. I liked the formation, actually. The schemes, however, are all the same. Another game and another offensive showing by the offense. The Steelers were repeatedly given golden field position in the 1st half only to shit it all away. No points in the 1st half. A total of 13 for the game. 7 of that off of Troy’s fumble. That is not getting the job done. Arians came out with some more aggressive playcalling, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the root problem with this offense is the overall scheme. When WR’s are running 10+ yards downfield EVERY play, you’re asking your QB to be great all the time just to move the ball. Why is Ben still holding onto the ball for what seems like ever? No one open? Then change the scheme! Why aren’t there more shorter options in this offense? It seemed like the only plays that worked in this game that WEREN’T improvised by Ben were short dump offs which were used very sparingly throughout the game. Arians also had a completely imbecilic playcalling sequence in the 2nd half with the Steelers inside the Ravens 10 yard line. 2 runs for negative yards on 1st and 2nd down. The result? A FG of course. Let’s all just hope Arians goes quietly away in the offseason.

– Tomlin had his defense come out pumped up. That’s good. He also had his offense come out sputtering and going nowhere, even with great field position being given to them repeatedly. That’s bad. Bizarrely, Tomlin elected not to go for it early in the game with the offense at around the Ravens 35 with just a yard to go for first down. But at the end of the 1st half, the Steelers elected to go for it at around the Ravens 45 on 4th and 2. If the Steelers didn’t make it the Ravens would have the ball with about 2 minutes left in the half. It made no sense.

– It was an ugly win, maybe even a lucky win, but a HUGE win, nonetheless. Maybe the biggest win of the year. With this win, the Steelers can set their eyes on a gigantic 1st round bye and the division title. Let’s not fuck it up the rest of the way!!

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