By Tyler Sweet
The rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens has already been established as one of the best rivalries of this generation. The rivalry between these two teams gives not only their respective fans, but all NFL fans a chance to witness a style of play that seems to be extinct amongst the rest of the league. A smashmouth, hard hitting, and all out violent approach to this game twice a year makes Roger Goodell cringe. Showcasing this rivalry on a national holiday in front of nearly every football fan in America, only made this pivotal divisional matchup that much more important. The winner of this game would temporarily slide into the final wildcard spot in the AFC. As the game unfolded Thursday night, another page to this incredible rivalry was written. Unfortunately for the Steelers, this was a game they would love to have back.
The offense could not get anything going whatsoever for the entire first half. The Ravens defense came out ready to play and forced Ben Roethlisberger and the offense into several 3 and outs once again and held the offense under 100 total first half yards. It wasn’t until the second half that Ben started to pick away at the defense and eventually put points on the board. Rookie Le’Veon Bell finally broke lose for a 43 yard run to help set up Ben for a short touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Bell added a short rushing touchdown to put the Steelers within reach. Bell had a good game cut short after he dove into the endzone and was knocked unconscious with his helmet flying off. Due to the NFL ruling of a dead ball at the moment the helmet comes off, the score was overturned and the Steelers watched their runningback wobble his way back into the locker room.
After a touchdown reception by Jerricho Cotchery with under 2 minutes to play, the Steelers put themselves a two point conversion away from tying the game. With a back shoulder throw right into his hands, Emmanuel Sanders dropped the conversion that cost them the game. With such bad special teams play, it would be hard to put too much blame on the offense, however when the time came for plays to be made, they failed to pull through several times. I like the effort but unfortunately effort alone does not win games. Overall Offensive Unit Grade: B
Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens must have watched what Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon did to the Steelers secondary the past couple weeks because they came out throwing deep. Ike Taylor seemed to be chasing Torrey Smith all over the field and was getting beat deep, or getting flagged for interference. With players like Jason Worilds and Cameron Heyward playing outstanding football up front as of late, the lack of talent and/or consistency in the secondary is hurting this defense tremendously. Although neither team forced any turnovers, both units played tough defense. Pittsburgh gave up several plays but held the Ravens to field goals as opposed to touchdowns. The problem, is that the Ravens made 15 points worth of field goals. There were some good plays and the defense played hard, but points are points no matter how they get them. This secondary must improve and with the season now almost completely out of their control, it just might be too late. Overall Defensive Unit Grade: B+
The horrible special teams play by the Steelers has finally caught up with them and many people will argue it cost them this game. This rivalry has consistently come down to the final minutes and decided by 3 points or less, which would make special teams play even that more important. In a game where points can be hard to come by, Shaun Suisham lined up for a long 50 yard field goal and started his approach almost before the ball was even snapped, causing the holder (McBriar) to hand the ball back to Suisham for a big loss and fantastic field position for the Ravens. On a Ravens kickoff return later in the game, Jacoby Jones ran the ball down the far sideline and apparently was distracted as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was nearly on the field of play and made Jones hesitate enough to be caught from behind. With the play now under review by the NFL, if it weren’t for Tomlin, this game could have been blown open early and the special teams would be the blunt of all criticism. In my opinion, this unit deserved an F even before that return, so how can I grade something as bad as what I witnessed last night? Absolutely horrible to watch and I put most of the blame for this game on this unit. Overall Special Teams Unit Grade: F- (Because a simple F isn’t enough)
After starting 0-4 the Steelers have been playing “must win” football for most of this season. This loss to the Raven was a huge blow to any chance they may have had at a playoff spot. I was very happy at the way the Steelers came into Baltimore and was ready to fight. It was a shame that a game of that magnitude had to be decided on a dropped pass, and horrible special teams play.
Please comment below with your thoughts on last nights game and what kind of grades you would give the Steelers for their performance. You can also tweet us @SteelersGab or myself @Tylersweet87
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