There were already serious questions for the Steelers coming into their rivalry game against the Baltimore Ravens, on a short week, without their Pro-Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and a backup who was 4-12 in his last 16 starts. After a 20-23 loss, now there’s more questions than answers. Especially about special teams, and coaching decisions.The Steelers had a 13 point lead in the second half and a couple of chances to finish off Baltimore, but kicker Josh Scobee missed two field goals (49, 41 yarders) that would’ve pushed their lead to 6, and forced the Ravens to have to score a touchdown at the end of regulation to win. Instead, it left the door wide open for Justin Tucker’s 50 yarder which sent the game into overtime. Scobee’s inability to make a field goal forced head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Todd Haley into questionable 4th down attempts in overtime that gave the Ravens more chances to steal the win.
For what it’s worth, Mike Vick and the offense played decent in Big Ben’s absence. Vick was 19 of 26 for 124 yards a touchdown, and most importantly, no turnovers. Le’Veon Bell ran for 129 yards on 22 carries, ending the Ravens streak of 29 games without allowing a 100 yard rusher. He also grabbed 7 catches for 21 yards to aid the passing game. The down side was Antonio Brown only had 5 catches for 42 yards, ending his NFL record 35 game streak of having 5+ catches and 50+ yards.
Even without a stellar performance from their All-Pro wide receiver, the Steelers defense played well enough to win. Justin Forsett did rush for 150 yards, but they sacked Joe Flacco 5 times, 3 of them in the 1st half alone. He’d only been sacked twice in the Ravens first 3 games. They forced 2 turnovers, setting up the offense to score 14 points. The defense also held Baltimore to 6/17 on third down and 1/4 on fourth down.
As you can see, the Steelers had the recipe for victory, but miscues in the kicking game and terrible play calling is why they’re now 2-2 on the season, and 9-8 in games without Roethlisberger since his rookie season in 2004. Coach Tomlin has 11 days to think about his game management decisions and where to find a possible replacement for a kicker who has already missed four field goals in 4 games.
Next up, at the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night October 12th. Plenty of time for offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Vick to open up the playbook.