Monday, September 15, 2014

Steelers Game 2 Recap - Ravens 26, Steelers 6

This recap is way late which is actually better than the Steelers performance against the Ravens which was essentially non-existent. The Steelers were all but taken behind the woodshed by the Ravens and while the game was 10-3 at the half it quickly got out of hand in the second half as the Ravens scored the final 16 points of the game after the Steelers cut the lead to 10-6 in the third.

It wasn't as if there weren't chances to make things happen. The Steelers started out the game with the football and were all over the Baltimore defense. They ran 12 plays and went 64 yards before Justin Brown fumbled away the football and killed the drive. On the third possession of the game the Steelers went 11 plays that covered 73 yards and only came up with a field goal The Steelers ended two other drives with turnovers and never were able to get into a groove through the middle part of the game. Really tough to watch especially after how good the unit was against Cleveland.

The defense wasn't much better. They allowed the Ravens to rush for 157 yards and allowed four separate drives of 10 plays or more. While they did a decent job of keeping the Ravens out of the end zone they gave up scoring drives in four of six possessions in the second half. They weren't able to tackle, stop the run, and did a pretty shoddy job in pass coverage. Basically it was the second half of the Browns game only a little less worse. Hooray.

A continuing problem of this team is the inability of the defense to get to the quarterback or force a turnover. The Steelers failed to get to Joe Flacco and they were credited with zero quarterback hits. After they made the game close in the second half they could have sucked all the momentum out of the house with a turnover but they didn't come close. The Steelers turned the football over three times and if you are going to ask me that was the difference in the game.

The Steelers also did a piss poor job of tackling. One of the staples of the good Steelers defense over the years was the ability to tackle, especially in the secondary. The Steelers will give up pass plays, as is expected in today's NFL, but tackling the ball at the point of the catch always gave them a chance. That is not happening so far during this young season. Usually sure tackler Ike Taylor has whiffed multiple times while Cortez Allen was dismal. Troy Polamalu has never been a good tackler and Mike Mitchell seems to have more personal foul penalties than tackles this season. I better stop, I think you get the point.

The Steelers also struggled big time defending the tight end. Owen Daniels caught a pair of touchdown passes and was largely left wide open in goal line situations. Dennis Pitta also caught three of four targets in the tight end game. That sounded dirty, whatever. The Steelers have invested a lot in their linebackers recently and to be beaten constantly by tight ends is a bit frustrating to say the least.

There were some bright spots in the game. Le'Veon Bell was really outstanding again and when things weren't going well he was able to get some yards and make things happen. He carried the ball only 11 times but gained 59 yards while he caught five passes for 48 yards. The pass game was pretty dismal but at least someone on the offense wanted to play some football. I guess I should take that back. It's tough to say that nobody wanted to play football on the Steelers side because that would be a pretty harsh and unfair generalization but it was really hard to watch.

There really wasn't much else that was good. I guess it is good that this loss doesn't push the Steelers to 0-2 but at the end of the day the Steelers have played six really bad quarters of football and two really good quarters. Things won't be this bad all season but it's hard to envision the Steelers really going on a run unless there are some big time changes. The tale of the statistical tape wasn't very bad but when you turn the ball over three times and don't take it away then you are going to struggle. When you commit nine penalties for 75 yards you aren't going to win. Take those two things away and this is a three point game either way. Too bad those things happened.

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