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Checkdown Audible: Steelers defense deserves win over Ravens

Sean-Spence-Sacks-Joe-FlaccoCheckdown Audible

The Steelers’ 23-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night was a team loss, no doubt, but one the Steelers defense doesn’t deserve to have hung on their shoulder pads.  In fact, after weeks of hearing how poorly they have performed, the Steelers “D” was about the only solid aspect of the team during the game.

Did they tire? Sure, after three quarters of devastating hits on trash-talking Steve Smith, sacking “elite” quarterback Joe Flacco five times and dragging Justin Forsett to the turf.  Lawrence Timmons and Antwon Blake hit Smith so hard that, after the game, he put Mike Mitchell on his “permanent hit list” – must have hit his head as well as gotten a sore back.  Mitchell’s lick was nowhere near the spearing Smith claimed it was, or could have been. In fact, spearing was not even an accurate description.

Flacco looked flustered for the better part of three quarters, throwing a lame-duck toss that Ross Cockrell (no sign of Cortez Allen) easily picked.  Had his teammates all seen it, Cockrell may have had the blocking he needed to take the INT to the house.  Guess he caught everyone off guard.  Cockrell had another great play, keeping his toes inbounds when Cam Heyward strip-sacked Flacco.  Five sacks.  Line up James Harrison, Sean Spence, Timmons, Heyward up and give them each a game ball just for veteran leadership.  This defense showed more pop against the Ravens than they had mustered in weeks.

Stephon Tuitt has shown a ton of heart in the last couple of games. His improvement is impressive and he spent plenty of time in the Ravens’ offensive backfield.  Key in helping stop the run, Tuitt has benefitted from playing next to Heyward.  It shows.

Will Allen and William Gay may not be your favorite guys in the backfield, but they showed they were ready for a fight.  Add Mitchell and Antwon Blake to that mix and there are a lot of guys who wore purple on Thursday night that are gonna have plenty of that color on their bodies on Friday.

They made some mistakes, this defense NFL experts were predicting to drag down and unstoppable offense.  I’m not saying the Super Bowl legends in the Hall are being replaced right now, but the guys in Steelers jerseys held their own against an overmatched Baltimore squad minus a few plays here and there.

Kudos to Keith Butler, Joey Porter and Carnell Lake for actually prepping for this game and putting the boom back into their squads.

Of all the guys in the locker room who should be upset, this defense deserves to be completely livid.  They forced three-and-outs only to watch the offense sputter. They created turnovers to watch them be wasted by missed field goals and a lack of scoring.

There is plenty of finger pointing to be done, but no one should be sticking those fingers in the chests of the defense.  Time for some reality, here.

Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin put all their eggs into Big Ben’s basket. The guy is tough as nails, not bulletproof.  Then they throw Mike Vick to the dogs by limiting the things they said they were catering to – his ability to use his legs, utilize play action and throw the ball.  I love that Le’Veon Bell put up over 100 rushing yards, but DeAngelo Williams’ talents were wasted.  The Steelers had multiple opportunities to throw Williams in for short yardage situations and help Bell out.  He could have been used as a lead blocker.  Miller plus Williams in front of Bell in overtime sure as heck would have been better than what was sent out to the huddle.

Josh Scobee had better make sure he went to each guy on his defense and apologized or risk their wrath come meeting time.  They deserved the win and were robbed.  You think Harrison wouldn’t like to open-field tackle the “Jags’ leading scorer” right now?  I’m not advocating that the locker room errupt into random acts of violence, but sincerity would be welcome.

Moats, Golden, Walton…hey guys, you deserve answers.

Rant over, but giving this game to Harbaugh and his team with a bow on top is disgusting.  And for this Steelers defense, frankly offensive.  They worked their butts off to get pegged as losers – what they’ve been working so hard to disprove.

I can’t imagine what Troy Polamalu, Brett Kiesel, Mean Joe…heck, Jerome Bettis thought of this game.  That bad taste, it’s that the Steelers are literally having to eat crow.  Disappointing, disturbing, disgusting.


S. Dean is a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan. The former owner of 'The Beam in Pittsburgh', Dean has worked in the sports media field for several years. S. Dean graduated with a degree in physical therapy and sports medicine, has a minor in journalism and is a Mt. Lebanon, PA, native. His favorite Steelers players (all-time) are Jerome Bettis, Lynn Swann and Joey Porter. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLHotTopix and Google Plus. To see his full bio, please visit the Meet Our Staff page.



  1. DrGeorge

    October 2, 2015 at 8:54 am

    The media is hanging this loss, obviously, on Scobee and Tomlin’s decision-making. Scobee because his accuracy with the Steelers has been abysmal; he is so bad Tomlin no longer trusts him to make a routine field goal. He has now missed more than he has made. Tomlin because he opted to convert 4th down and short, and failed– twice. His riverboat gambler streak caught up with him, although I blame him more for his choice of plays than his audacious attempt. For once, nobody is blaming the Defense. The D is still a work in progress, but it played well enough for the Steelers to win. Those are the obvious observations.

    But the obvious is not the right answer for this loss. The Steelers lost this game because the offensive line could not run the ball when we needed a first down late in the fourth quarter, and then twice more in OT. Bell gained 129 yards on the night, but he couldn’t rise to the occasion in the red zone — primarily because of the O-line. Meanwhile, the Raven’s O-line made holes in our front seven when it counted and in the red zone. Teams that run the ball well, win; those that don’t, give up 13 point leads and lose ignominiously in overtime.

    By the way, Mr. Dean is absolutely right about D. Williams’ talents being wasted. The same might be said for Will Johnson and Sammy Coates, and for Cockrell and Boykin on defense. We have previously noted here Tomlin’s shameful misuse of the talent he has. Doubt me? Imagine, just for a moment, that Bill Belichick had this team. Would he have an O-line that performed like this one? Would he allow Williams and Johnson and Coates to languish on the bench? Would he fail to utilize Cockrell and Boykin? The answer is obvious. The Patriots don’t have markedly better talent. They have markedly better coaching and infinitely better use of personell.

    In his press conference, Tomlin accepted full responsibility for his fourth down decisions. Obviously. Who else is there to blame? But he must also accept responsibility for the coaching inadequacies noted above that put his team in that situation in the first place.

  2. Austin

    October 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Doc, I agree that the offensive line is and has played abysmally this season but I believe the weight falls on Tomlin. I will try to be on here everyday with the simple phrase, “The Steelers are a poorly coached team!” It will be much akin to Andy Dufresne from, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ when he wrote a letter everyday to the government until they gave him his library. Maybe we can have the Rooney Rule Redemption or something. Hey, in Madden I can fire Tomlin and I indeed will….elicit vicarious pleasure from it too. That’s all the Rooney’s have to do…Just watch some old Donald Trump footage, stand in front of a mirror and say the words after me, “You’re fired!” Before you know it, it just flows off the lips like butter off of hot pancakes or, more aptly put, bad decisions from Tomlin’s useless brain!Maybe someone can like distract one of the Rooney’s at like church or something-preferrably the old, decrepit one. Then, someone else, preferably an old, decrepit-looking person, dresses up like him and then just goes to Tomlin’s house and fires him. I’m sorry, I really can’t take this team seriously nor prevent myself from making fun of this organization while that ass-clown is still the HC. I think most football people have forgotten more football than he presently knows or will ever know. The bright side is there might be a burger flipping position open at Heinz Field. That way, when he messes up a Roethlis-Burger (and he undoubtedly will) it won’t cost the Steelers a win; it will simply cost and cause one angry customer in lieu of like millions which this head coach has so adeptly been able to do to nearly all of Steelers nation.

  3. Austin

    October 2, 2015 at 8:00 pm

    When you called me up this morning told me about the new coach you found, I said I’m happy for, ya, I’m really happy for ya,
    Found someone else, guess I can start comin’ back around,
    I’m really happy for us, Steelers Nation, I’m really happy for us,
    If you see me walking by, after a failed two point try, look away, Tomlin look away…
    If you’re on the streets someday, because you can’t get them to play,
    Look away, Tomlin look away…
    Don’t look at us, we so don’t want you to stay.
    When we all agreed as fans, we’d be better off in quicksand (than with you),
    But sometimes I pretend, we’re holding Lombardi again,
    Yeah, we’re really holding it,
    I just never thought,
    You’d be replaced so soon,
    It’s like a wet dream, baby, yeah a wet dream, baby,
    I wasn’t prepared to suck with you, yeah we really suck with you,
    If you see me walking by, after a failed two point try, look away, Tomlin look away…
    If you’re on the streets someday, because you can’t get them to play,
    Look away, Tomlin look away…
    Don’t look at us, we so don’t want you to stay!

  4. Austin

    October 3, 2015 at 8:01 am

    This is a poorly coached team who will happen to only win in spite of, not because of their coach!

  5. DrGeorge

    October 3, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Postscript to my comment above: check out Charles Robinson’s article (Oct. 2) on Yahoo Sports that reaches the same conclusions, with an especially apt quote from James Harrison.

  6. Austin

    October 3, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Can you paraphrase what silverback says, Doc?

  7. Austin

    October 3, 2015 at 9:29 am

    In his quote.

  8. Austin

    October 3, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Forget it I read it! That stuff Harrison says ultimately falls on the HC! Period and no one else! Too often now his teams are under prepared or out schemed or whatever and I’m sick of it! Of course Harrison is going to say that! He’s a seasoned veteran who knows how to spin things for the better of the team! Tomlin is most culpable here and the second to blame isn’t even close! The fact that he owns it means nothing to me nor should it mean anything to any Steeler fan. I’m sick of his teams performing like this in big moments! Pats have less talent than us but always execute and perform well and it’s because of their head coach! Ben wins games in spite of Tomlin. In fact, Ben hides so many of Tomlin’s sins that we win primarily because of Ben and other elite players and in spite of Tomlin! I can’t believe people don’t see this! To pin this exclusively on the o line is preposterous! Yeah, they suck, especially that six hundred plus pounds of wasted flesh on the left side and our sorry back up of a center, but who is responsible for getting them ready and ultimately motivating and getting in their collective faces? Ultimately it ain’t Munchak. It’s Tomlin! How many times has a pats offensive line underperformed or played poorly and you see cheater Belichick on the sideline bending down actually coaching them up?! You never see Tomlin doing that or at least it ain’t being shown on TV. Pats who I hate went 11-5 without Brady and with sorry ass Matt Cassel. If we went an entire year without Ben this sorry ass HC would garner maybe two wins! Then we’d have a high round draft pick that Colbert could go ahead and fuck up! Give me a break Tomlin supporters! He in way over his head and has been since 2007 when he let, of all teams, Jacksonville come in and beat us in a home playoff game! We won the following year because of Ben and a decent defense! Ben got us back in 2010 but exhibit A and just as yet another example in that game we go and sent our kicker out there for a fifty yarder when he barely has or had the leg for 40!

  9. Austin

    October 3, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Steelers offensive line: Kelvin Bench-Him, Go-Home Foster, Cody Suck-ass, Fidel Castro (plays like Fidel would have), Marcus Dilbert and Maurkice Outchy! (always getting hurt). Glad for Steve smith and his ribs by the way!

  10. regis

    October 3, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I have not yet got an answer to where the ROONEYS found this head coach and his ability to hire good players

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