Sunday, October 03, 2010

Baltimore vs. Steelers: The Postgame Comments

In the aftermath of a tough loss to your most bitter rival, Steelers fans are going to quick to point to the two missed field goals by Jeff Reed (all Sheetz locations are advised to lockdown their bathrooms) as the key to the loss. However, in the midst of their worst performance so far this season, the real key to the loss can be found in the fourth quarter, long after those missed kicks.

The key to the loss came immediately following what should have been the Steelers winning moment ~ i.e. the goal line stand by their defense. With 2:40 left in the game the Steelers had the football, and Baltimore was down to a single timeout. In that possession Rashard Mendenhall rushed for eight yards on three plays; but of course the two false start penalties proved lethal to that drive. Then, as if that were not enough, the holding call by the highly reliable Keyaron Fox served to made a bad situation all the worse.

Missed field goals and an anemic offense may be easy targets for fans looking to affix blame, but on a day when the Steelers rushed for 84 yards and had the lead late in the game, despite running 15 fewer offensive plays, they missed a golden opportunity to put the game away.

One other thing to remember is that, despite the 3-1 record, the Steelers are very much in the middle of the pack in the AFC. The Steelers now have a 1-1 conference record, good enough for fifth, while Baltimore is now 3-1 in the AFC, and in second place. Sunday's loss means that the Steelers almost certainly have to sweep their five remaining division games; and games versus other conference opponents (e.g. New England, New York Jets, Oakland) have taken on even more significance.

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