Steelers Less Than Charming in Baltimore 

Steelers-Ravens is always ugly, but this was a different type of ugly. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Pittsburgh versus Baltimore is supposed to be ugly, in a smash mouth, old school, grind it out, vicious hitting kind of way. Not ugly and unwatchable in a preseason-esque sort of way such as was this game. Even with the win, I’m sure it was even unbearable to watch for Ravens fans.

The teams combined for 23 penalties (the most in the history of this rivalry) for 193 yards. You expect a Steelers-Ravens game to be filled with penalties, but of the personal foul, unnecessary roughness and late hit variety. Sunday’s infractions were mental blunders; offsides, false starts, too many men on the field and illegal formations.

With both teams coming off of a bye week, you’d expect them to be refreshed, restored and in sync. Both were anything but following their weeks off. Each offense was sloppy, and had no rhythm. Aside from former Steeler wide receiver Mike Wallace’s now Ravens franchise record 95-yard touchdown catch and run, both offenses were ineffective and stagnant.

Ben Roethlisberger’s return from a torn left meniscus that kept him out of the matchup with the New England Patriots, brought the hopes of Steelers Nation of a revived energized offense. Not even having him in the lineup could solve the slow start problems that have plagued this offensive unit all season.

How bad was it? At the 6:27 mark in the 2nd quarter, Pittsburgh had more penalty yards (65) than total yards (51). For the half they had 84 penalty yards on 10 penalties to 67 total yards.

Through the first three quarters Roethlisberger was 8 of 18 for 54 yards and an interception. It took until the 3rd offensive possession for the Steelers to get their 1st, and only first down of the half. Punter Joe Berry was the busiest player on the field in a Steelers uniform, punting 8 times on the first 8 possessions. 9 times the offense went 3 and out.

Antonio Brown had no catches in the first quarter, and didn’t catch his first pass until 3:17 remaining in the first half. He finished the game with 7 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Le’Veon Bell had 9 carries for 17 yards in the 1st half and finished with 14 carries for 32 yards in the game.

It took nearly three and a half quarters and a 21-point deficit for this “high-powered offense” to get into any rhythm. Their first play in Baltimore territory wasn’t until the 4th quarter, with the first score coming with at 8:38 remaining in the game. In the fourth quarter alone, Roethlisberger went 15 of 27 for 210 yards a 23 yard touchdown pass and a 3 yard touchdown scramble.

The Ravens defense deserves plenty of credit. They held the Steelers to 4 for 16 on 3rd down for the game. Which shouldn’t be surprising since they came into the game with the second best defensive 3rd down conversion rate in the NFL (33.7%). But Pittsburgh didn’t live up to their 7th overall ranking in offensive 3rd down conversions (43.3%). It was strength on strength and the Ravens won out.

Keith Butler’s defensive unit, which has been much maligned also season, actually played well enough to win the game, which is why they had a slim chance late. Baltimore was held to 4-17 on third down. They picked off Joe Flacco to end a potential scoring drive inside their own 25. Ryan Shazier and James Harrison each forced fumbles that led to huge losses, and Flacco was sacked 3 times for 26 yards. They held their opponent to 274 total yards, the fewest amount any opponent has gained all season, and 14 points. The other touchdown coming on a block punt that pretty much sealed the deal.

If you get that type of production weekly by the defense, you’d hope a victory would follow.

Hopefully the offense can get their act together and match the defensive performance on the same afternoon. Especially with the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys riding a 7-game win streak into next week. Kickoff with the Cowboys is at 4:25 pm next Sunday in Heinz Field.

OTHER NOTES

  • With the loss, the Steelers are now in second place in the AFC North and on a three game losing streak.
  • Baltimore has won 8 of the last 10 meetings, including playoffs.
  • Roethlisberger is now 2-7 at Baltimore in his career, and 2-6 in the first game after returning from injury.
  • This was Pittsburgh’s first game of the season decided by fewer than 7 points.
  • Mike Wallace’s 95-yard touchdown catch is the longest touchdown allowed from scrimmage by the Steelers since 1966.

Rookie DB Artie Burns celebrates his 1st career interception. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

  • Rookie Artie Burns got the start at corner for William Gay and got his first career interception on the Ravens second drive at the 15-yard line. He also got beat by Wallace on the next Baltimore possession for the touchdown.

 

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