Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Restoring Order: Steelers 13, Ravens 10

Going into the game it was fair to say that the Steelers Nation was about 50/50 on what was going to happen. Some people had good feelings and some people had really had feelings about it.

The Ravens side was the same way. I talked to a few Ravens fans who said some of their fans were really worried about this game.

That is what big rivalries are about. Teams are evenly matched in a huge game. No, I am not talking about the Jets and the Patriots, because that is not a rivalry. Some people might want to talk about it like that, but that is not a rivalry. The Steelers/Ravens is as good as it gets.

The Rats handed out rally towels, but it didn't matter.

The Steelers did three things to get the win tonight.

They came.

They saw.

They conquered.

Bottom line is the Steelers put themselves in a great job with four games left in teh season.

Sure this thing is far from over because both teams still have two division games and a couple tough opponents to go before all things are said and done, but if you told me before the season that we would go into Baltimore and get a huge win like this and be 9-3 leading the AFC North most of you would have bet against that.

What this team has is character. When things looked bleak the Steelers gutted it up and got the job done.

Broken bones, banged up players, bad breaks, it didn't matter. The Black and Gold knew they had to come in and get a win if they wanted to position themselves in a good spot for the playoffs and they did that.

Let that sink in for a second. Feels really good.

6-1 on the road? That is Steelers 2005 and 2008 stuff.

The Ravens think that they lost it and the Steelers didn't win it? Please.

Let's get at it. Jump it.

The Steelers start out the game and do something that I want them to do every time then win the opening coin toss, defer to the second half. They defer and really come out strong on defense.

Joe Flacco tried to go for the big play on first down to Todd Heap and overthrows Heap but Heap comes up lame with a bad hammy. Shocking. The Steelers flush out Flacco on second down and Ziggy Hood gets a sack on third down.

What a coverage sack by the secondary.

The Steelers first drive gets a first down and then Ben gets sacked on the next third down. During the sack Ngata actually takes his right hand and bashes Ben in the helmet, breaking his nose. Actually the Steelers said it wasn’t broken, but it really was. Was there a penalty called? Why would there be. You are allowed to hit QB’s in the head with your open hand now.

The Steelers get the ball back after another three and out and something happened that I thought was not able to happen, overthrowing Mike Wallace. Ben took the second down play and went down town just out throwing the speedster by a couple of yards at the back of the end zone. Unreal.

Ravens get the ball back and the Steelers are just all over the place. Ravens are pinned back and take a few penalties and the Ravens are up to a 3rd and 15 from their own end zone. The Steelers bring the blitz and that leaves Boldin one-on-one with Ryan Clark in the slot and Clark gets burned for 61 yards.

The Ravens made the Steelers pay after the bomb to Bolden. Flacco rolls out and on a pretty nice improve play find Boldin in the back of the end zone all alone for the touchdown.

Troy was right with him but Boldin did a nice job to stop on a dime as he was running toward the sideline and dart back to the middle where there was nobody. Blah.

Both teams job around a little bit for a few series and nothing really going on. Ravens got a nice break (that they created) when Webb returned a 53 yard boom by Daniel Sepulveda to mid field to set up Baltimore with a chance to really take control of this game. Worse than the actual return was that Danny S hurt his right knee. Shit.

Cue up the Steelers defense. After not brining much pressure Dick LeBeau started bringing it more and got to Flacco’s face a little bit and forced some quicker throws. Three and out.

The Steelers pick up a few first downs and Ben tries to go up top for Antonio Brown and had his pass picked off.

The only good part about it is the Josh Wilson intercepted the ball at his own two yard line.

The Steelers do a nice job stopping the Ravens on first and second down and for the second time this game the Steelers get burned on third and long with the Ravens in the shadow of their own end zone. Bryant McFadden gets played and gives up a big gain to Donte Stallworth. Luckily for the people on the sideline Stallworth was sober, at least we think.

Ike Taylor ends the drive with a HUGE sack to knock the Ravens out of field goal range and picks up Ben Roethlisberger. What a player.

Ben starts to get into a little bit of a groove and the offensive line starts to really pick it up and figure out Baltimore and picks up the blitzes and gives Ben time. A couple of first downs and the Steelers are in Baltimore territory before Baltimore forces a fourth and two from about their forty yard line. Ballsy call as the Steelers go for it. I didn’t like the call and think with under two minutes left you have to punt there but the Steelers convert. On the next third down Ben finds Hines Ward but Hines drops it. Huge drop. Can’t have that in a game like this.

Shaun Suisham had to come out and punt on that fourth down and actually did a nice job getting it inside the 20. Losing Sepulveda is going to hurt if this injury is anything serious though.

Halftime stats time:

Steelers come out and get points on the first drive. Ben was zipping the ball around and starting to find a groove. Putting the ball into some tight spots and moving the chains. The best play of the drive was a WR stand up screen to Mike Wallace for 23 yards. Nothing special, Ben just stood up and threw it to Mike on the short side and he ran right past everyone. Fastest player in the NFL.

The Steelers have to kick a field goal and Suisham knocks it down easy from 45 yards out.

Nice way to start the half. Had to get some points and the Steelers did.

The Ravens drive the ball down the field and aided by a HUGE non-holding call on a Joe Flacco run set up first and 10 from around the 12 or 13 yard line. The defense tightens up though and forces a chip shot field goal to keep the game at only a one score contest.

The next drive the Steelers put together another great series that spans over the third and fourth. Ben moves the ball down the field finding a multitude of receivers. The greatest injustice fell on the Steelers as Heath Miller was knocked out of the game with a text book helmet to helmet hit.

Heath Miller went up for a ball that was batted away, he was defenseless up in the and a Baltimore linebacker went helmet to helmet with Heath and snapped his head back and I believe knocked him out on the field. No flag. No nothing.

The Steelers get the ball down to the two yard line for a first and goal and can’t punch it in. Two runs and a pass and had to kick a field goal.

Defense comes out and gets a huge three and out. Money.

The Steelers offense does nothing. Punt.

The next series is what Steelers/Ravens is all about. The Steelers down all night with nothing going and they turn to one player who makes play every time. Troy Polamalu.

Baltimore starts out with the ball and 4:43 to go and the Steelers have two time outs. A couple of first downs and this game is over and the Ravens were up four and with the way the offense was playing there was no way they were going to go 80+ yards in under two minutes. BMac gets a PI call on second down and then Ray Rice runs for five yards on the next first down.

Then it happened.

Troy happened.

Joe Flacco for some reason drops back to pass, nobody blocks Troy, I mean nobody. Strip sack.

LaMarr Woodley picks it up and goes to the Baltimore nine yard line. I am freaking out going nuts. How many big plays does this guy make to save and win games. Just unreal that nobody even looked at him and that Joe Flacco didn’t even notice.

The Steelers, with 3:13 left on the clock and down by four go to work. On first down Terrell Suggs was all over Ben, which was nothing new if you watch the game, but Ben literally fights out of his grasp and pushes him away enough to toss the ball away. Ben is so strong. Saves a sack and about a six yard loss. Second down is incomplete.

Third down Ben goes from the gun. Surveys the field can’t find anyone. Check down. Ike Redman. Redman catches the ball at about the six yard line with three Ravens around him and just does not give up. Breaks at least two to three tackles and drags a Raven into the end zone.

Unreal. What a gutty play and sequence of events.

The Ravens get the ball back with 2:51 to go. They go 51 yards in nine plays and convert a fourth down play to keep the chains moving. They come up again after some good defense with a fourth and two from the Steelers 31 yard line. Edge range of field goal and the Ravens decided to go for it. Flacco has a rookie TE open in the left flat and just bounces the football to him.


Notes and Thoughts:

-First thing is first. Holy hell what a football game. You knew coming in that this was going to be a really tough game and it was probably going to come down to which team was able to make “a play” in the fourth quarter. When the Ravens were in Pittsburgh they did that and this time around it was Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger this time. The Steelers needed this game to prove that they were for real and they won this game. Sure, the Ravens might have gave it away a little bit but the Steelers won that game when it meant most.

-I know Troy is getting almost all the pub but Ben Roethlisberger is the story of this game. I don’t care what you think about him, this man can play some football. People were calling him a drama queen going into the game and if you really think that after watching him last night then you have no business every missing something for being sick. With a broken right plant foot and a broken nose he put this team on his back again and won the football game.

Ian from The Steelers n’at tweeted some good stats. Last night was Big Ben's 19th career 4th quarter comeback and 25th career Game-Winning Drive, his 5th Game-Winning Drive against the Ravens. Are you kidding me? He is 8-2 all time against the Ravens and 6-0 in his last six starts against them. He has the Ravens number. Plain and simple. For those joke people who don’t think he would have made a difference in the first game just take a look at what he did tonight on a broken foot. Please.

How strong Ben is really is amazing. It is one of the main reasons he might not warrant flags from officials for late hits but what he did to Terrell Suggs on that TD drive was just vintage Ben. Saving the sack and being able to get rid of the football is an underrated play that most people won’t talk about, but the Steelers probably don’t score a TD if he takes the sack there. Couple that with the hit to the helmet he took from Ngata and to be able to come back from that is just unreal. He was a warrior last night and he showed his teammates and the city of Pittsburgh that he is a franchise quarterback for a reason and he is in it to win it. I couldn’t be more proud.

-Speaking of Terrell Suggs, holy hell what a player. Dude is a total toolbag but he was in Ben’s grill all night.

When he wasn’t rushing he was keeping tight ends in check and just wreaking havoc all over the field. He finished with 1.5 sacks, five tackles, three tackle for losses, and five, yes FIVE, quarterback hits. When Ben was getting into bed last night Suggs was there to knock him off. I do not like the guy, but damn that dude is tough and can play.

-Can the injuries please stop? I mean pretty please? Danny Sepulveda is not gone for the year with an ACL tear, Flo Adams now has a high ankle sprain and I am sure will be sidelined for weeks. Heath Miller, who was a victim of a terrible head shot suffered a concussion. How much worse could this get? I mean Sepulveda was supposed to be the next in line top play offensive line. Who else could possibly get hurt?

-THAT being said I really hope Heath is ok. Not that I don’t hope any other injured player is not ok, but Heath Millers was really, really scary. Just him not breaking his neck was a small miracle. It actually looked like Heath was having a seizure on the field, although that is just what it looked like for a second, but he is lucky if he ONLY has a concussion. No real word on how bad Heath is but I can see this being a few week thing. Stuff like that is really scary and luckily he didn’t have to go out on a stretcher. When an opposing player has to motion frantically for the other teams trainers to come out you know its bad. Get better soon Heath.

-David Johnson stepped the f up. If before the game you told me that DJ was going to be our only tight end for the game I would have told you our chances of winning went down a ton. Heath is a very good blocker and an even better pass catcher and I just didn’t think that DJ could make up for that. I was dead wrong. HUGE conversion on a fourth down play and another play where he plucked a ball out of the air and kept the legs churning. With Heath probably out for Sunday against the Bungles he will be more of a part of the game.

-Bryant McFadden and Ryan Clark did not have a great day. Two third down plays with Baltimore inside their own 10 yard line and both times there were conversions of 60 yards or more. Not good stuff. BMac also had about 15 PI called against him, the last of which put the Ravens on the outer edges of field goal range as the clock was ticking down. The Steelers won, but stuff like this isn’t good. Penalties have been a big problem recently and we just need BMac to take a deep breathe and count to 10 before he goes out on the field. I am sure 95% of Steelers fans want him and Will Gay out of here but you guys need to take a breath also.

-Talking corners, how good is Ike Taylor. Everyone kinda jokes and laughs about his intro on SNF and how he always does the WWE “you can’t see me” gesture after he makes a big play, but the fact of the matter is Ike Taylor is playing at a Pro Bowl level this year. He will most likely not make the Pro Bowl because he doesn’t get the interceptions that other DB’s do but he is just lock down. I say it every week on the post game that he needs to be resigned but can you think of anything really bad he did against a good Ravens receiving core? I can’t. He is the real deal and should be top priority along with LaMarr Woodley this off season.

-Gotta give credit where credit is due, the Baltimore Ravens played one hell of a game. Their defense was all over the place and put a lot of pressure on Ben and made the running game pretty non-existent. They have a nice offense and a pretty good defense and it took everything the Steelers had to get past them by three. The Ravens will be in the playoffs and they are not a team I would like to see in the playoffs.

-Something that might not have got noticed by a lot but a friend brought up to me was the little scrum that was going on during the early part of the game. It started with an offensive lineman jumping offside’s and lunging at James Harrison and then everyone kind of got into it. I really didn’t think anything of it until a friend of mine, who currently lives outside the country, brought to my attention that it was a pretty strange play. It all started after the Ravens touchdown. Lining up to the extra point someone on the Ravens left side of the line jumped and lunged forward and James Harrison. First, who fires off the ball FORWARD on an extra point? I have never seen it. I played football and you are taught to step down and prevent any holes, you never fire off the ball like a running play. The second part that when this Ravens player fired forward he did so right at James Harrison’s knees. How that is not a penalty is beyond me. The announcers didn’t even mention it. What a joke. Don’t think the Steelers didn’t notice because on The Locker Room on 970 yesterday Chris Hoke made mention of this and said himself it was dirty. It was a dirty play and something so blatant that it makes players talk about it. Just my thought though.

-Oh yea:

-What a beard

Get your mind right for Cincinnati.

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