It’s always tough to lose to the Steelers.
The Ravens had a golden opportunity, at home to wrap up their second straight AFC North title and instead they breathe new life into Pittsburgh and suddenly hear the footsteps of the surging Bengals.
All is not lost by a long-shot though, they are still two games up on both teams in the win column and while it would have been great to send the home fans home happy they could end up with the same result they wanted only a week later.
I should mention that tonight was extra special for me as I took my 8-year old to his first game. He had a blast even though his team did not bring home the win. He was excited that Anquan Boldin caught a touchdown though. (#81 is his jersey)
So what went wrong tonight? Well let me tell you.
- Let’s get this out of the way, I give the Steelers a lot of credit for hanging tough and finding a way to win as Baltimore and Pittsburgh engaged in their usual down to the wire finish. Charlie Batch totally outplayed Joe Flacco today, threw for 276 yds. and completed almost 70% of his passes. But for as much as I want to credit Pittsburgh I also blame Baltimore for not playing to their potential. They mismanaged the clock, their timeouts, and didn’t make enough plays to win. I really don’t think this loss will affect the division or the Ravens fifth consecutive playoff trip but it just may have cost them home field.
- The Ravens offense sputtered miserably in the fourth quarter. So who’s to blame? Let’s begin under center. Joe Flacco played like he was on the road today. Passes sailed or were otherwise inaccurate and both his turnovers were costly. The fumble was a momentum killer that allowed the Steelers to tie the score in the Fourth period. His stat line was ugly. (16 for 34 for 188 yds – 1 TD – I INT – 1 Fumble) Flacco was outplayed by a third string journeyman quarterback today and for a guy in a contract year this isn’t a game you point to to get more green in your pocket. He must play better in big games.
- Cam Cameron. After getting a chance to watch the game from the beauty and solitude of the last row at the 50 yard line I will finally print these words. Cam Cameron must be let go at the end of the season. Cam’s game plan had multiple flaws in it today and I’m not sure where to begin. The running game was effective between both Ray Rice (12-78- 1TD) and Bernard Pierce (8 – 34) most of the late afternoon so why did Rice not get a single carry in the Fourth Quarter? Instead Cam relied on his shaky quarterback to throw multiple incompletions. Cameron’s schemes consisted of short passes where the player is expected to run for a first down or deep low percentage post or sideline passes. He rarely uses the middle of the field and defenders know where the route is going even before the ball is hiked. Meanwhile I watch the opposition find big plays over the middle and in the seams of the zone. It’s maddening and I need it to stop.
- I love Vonta Leach. How could you not if you’re a Ravens fan? He layed some brutal blocks (one on Casey Hampton was my personal favorite) and caught 4 passes for 40 yards off some play-action.
- I thought that the game was sealed after Ed Reed’s acrobatic interception and return. Instead the Ravens gave the ball right back on a 3rd and 5 that I thought should have been a draw. This isn’t hindsight. I was calling for it and thought that even if you don’t pick it up you get a chance to pin Pittsburgh back deep.
- Even though Torrey Smith was underthrown twice for potential touchdowns he dropped a sure one that was right in his hands. Anquan Boldin had a solid game stat-wise (5 for 81 – TD) but was targeted 12 times and should have contributed even more. Not much involvement for Dennis Pitta or Jacoby Jones either.
- Jah Reid struggled a lot today as the carousel at Left Guard continues. The Ravens still haven’t found a solution at that position yet and may not until next season. Overall the O-Line’s performance was fairly uneven though they did a pretty decent job of run blocking. Shame it wasn’t featured in the game plan enough.
- The Defensive line was decent but seemed to fade in the second half and they also didn’t tackle very well in during some stretches. The linebackers had their troubles in coverage and need to drop deeper into the zone. They got hurt a few times on big gains there. The pressure was fair as they only got to Batch twice on the day. The killer was being unable to get the Steelers off the field with just under seven minutes in the Fourth Quarter.
- Cary Williams and Bernard Pollard play exceptionally well while Corey Graham’s interception was big. I still didn’t understand why after playing the Pittsburgh receivers tight two weeks ago they played back today? They were not aggressive as a unit and were more reactionary this time around. It gave Batch some easy reads and throws.
- The Ravens killed themselves on penalties. (8 for 70) Kruger’s roughing the passer. False starts. Offensive pass interference. Undisciplined football. It all added up to a loss.