Ravens vs. Steelers: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
The defense simply has not played a better game this season and, save for a turnover or two that they did not get, could not have reasonably been expected to do any better than they did. While the unit deserves praise there are a couple of members who stood out:
Jonathan Dwyer is the right running back for this offense at this time. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry (coming into the game Baltimore was giving up an average of 4.0 yards per carry), a number that is all the more impressive considering that the Ravens were crowding the line of scrimmage, essentially daring Todd Haley and Byron Leftwich to throw the football.
There is not much doubt that having a couple of time outs available late in the game would have been a nice thing. Thought not surprising that there would be some confusion between the offensive coordinator and the backup quarterback, "mistakes" of that kind absolutely will come back to haunt you -- and it did Sunday night.
The Steelers' punt return team has had two dreadful games back-to-back; and Sunday night the four-yard-per-return average helped ensure that the Steelers' offense had consistently poor starting field position (the Steelers' average starting field position was their OWN 17-yard line).
Special teams. In our "Matchups" column leading up to the game we mentioned that the stats favored Baltimore's special teams, and we hate being correct about that sort of thing.
Rashard Mendenhall is simply not the right running back for this offensive line at this time. His propensity for stopping and starting, twisting and turning, is better suited to a zone blocking, stretch kind of offensive line, not the power blocking, north-south approach that the Steelers employ. And before anyone mentions his pass catching ability let's keep in mind that Mr. Mendenahll had three receptions for 17 yards (i.e. 5.7 yards per catch) while the previously mentioned Mr. Dwyer had three catches for 26 yards (i.e. an 8.7 yards per catch average).
Mike Adams looked lost trying to pass block. There is nothing new about that, but against a team like Baltimore that kind of deficiency may get the quarterback killed.
- Keenan Lewis had 8 tackles (one for a loss), two assists, and two passes defended. The young man is having a terrific season.
- Casey Hampton set the tone early (the second Baltimore possession, to be exact), tackling Ray Rice for a loss in the first series. He played an inspired game, and just looked like the Casey of a couple of years ago.
- James Harrison: We have been amongst those throwing dirt on James Harrison's professional grave, but six tackles, two assists, a sack, and just some generally sound play has us feeling foolish about having ever doubted him.