Steelers Lose Tough Game To Ravens, Inside Track to Division Gone

The energy was in the stadium last night. The crowd knew exactly what both the Ravens and the Steelers already knew, this game was huge. It was a game that in all likelihood would determine the Steelers path to the playoffs.  Win and have the inside shot at the division. Lose and scrap your way the rest of year to get into one of the final two spots.  The end result saw the Ravens squeak by the Steelers by the slimmest of margins, 13-10. The 3 point difference wasn’t a shock to anyone; these two teams know each other inside and out and have a defined hatred for each other. Their games are always close and the key to this rivalry is to protect your home turf. It’s something the Steelers were unable to do last year and unfortunately again last night and they now hold a 3 game losing streak to the purple nuisance that is the Baltimore Ravens.

This loss can be defined as one that got away. Had Big Ben played I think it’s clear cut the Steelers would have won the game. Without him, the offense sputtered. Byron Leftwich was largely ineffective in his first extensive action in nearly 3 years.  Leftwich managed to lead the Steelers to an opening drive touchdown capped off with his 31 yard TD run but that was about it. Passing he was nothing short of horrendous. He had a beautiful spiral on just about all the balls he threw but on 21 of those 39 throws, the ball was incomplete. Leftwich appeared to be battling some sort of bruised rib and it was evident his arm strength was effected by it.  However it’s hard to blame arm strength on the night Leftwich had, he was wildly inaccurate with balls in the ground and over the heads of his targeted receivers.  You can blame rust, you can blame the rib injury (if that truly exists) but most of all you can blame Tomlin, yes Tomlin. No, Tomlin doesn’t play, no, Tomlin doesn’t throw the balls nor does he run the football. What Tomlin does is lead and make decisions.  His inability to pull the trigger on removing Leftwich for Batch is nothing short of inexplicable. When it became clear Byron was unable to lead this offense down the field in a manner that it would take to win the football game, for whatever reason, injury or otherwise, Tomlin needed to step up and put in Batch. Charlie has played far more the past few years the Leftwich has, he’s played the Ravens in that span and he’s been relatively effective. The offensive production wouldn’t have been any worse than it already was and there truly was nothing to lose in trying to bring in a spark. The crowd would have been re-energized with a fan favorite like Batch coming in. The crowd doesn’t make the decisions for you, certainly, but they do help you win football games, especially as raucous a crowd as that was last night, get them involved, pump up the team and try it out. What was there to lose? Nothing, Tomlin failed in that instance.

Aside from the passing game failing and Tomlin failing, the special teams failed. The lone touchdown the Ravens scored came on a 63 yard punt return. It was the deciding factor in this football game.  In my Game Day preview I stated this game would come down to special teams play and sure enough, it did. The Steelers lost that battle and because of it, the game.

The defense and ground attack did their part.  Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall combined for 88 yards on 23 carries.  They were able to gain chunks of yardage on most every carry and Dwyer especially looked good. I feel that they should have given the ball to Dwyer another 7-10 times. When the passing game isn’t working and you have a back rumbling the way he was, you need to utilize it more than what they did last night. For that, I have to say the coaches failed again.

Defensively the black and gold had it going on. They held Joe Flacco to 165 yards, Torrey Smith had only 1 reception and Ray Rice barely cracked 40 yards on the ground.  Keenan Lewis and Lawrence Timmons were all over the field making plays and even James Harrison looked like he’s starting to get his legs back as well.  They played winning football on that side of the ball. When you hold your opponent to 13 points (only 6 allowed by the defense) you have to win that football game.  If Troy Polamalu returns to the field this season I’m convinced this unit can be as scary as ever.

It’s largely disappointing that it seems after 10 weeks there is always a failure on one side of the ball and no game outside of the win at the Giants has had all units play winning, top level football. Now that the defense is back, the offense is without their best player and they can no longer put up points.  We need to hope and pray that we get all our injured players back soon as we’re going to need them down the stretch. Without them, especially Big Ben, this team is going to be erratic and scraping to get into the playoffs.


Player of the Game: None, no players of the game in losses!

Get Well Soon: Big Ben, we clearly need you back asap. 

                           Toy Polamalu-6 games away is too many, we need you out there

What’s up with the Rib injuries:  Jerricho Cotchery and Leftwich had some rib issues last night

Concussed: Isaac Redman left with a concussion

New starter at RB: Jonathan Dwyer-He has the look of a starter to me.

Rooting For-Every team that plays the Ravens, it’s our only hope at the division now.

6-4, up next: at Cleveland


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