Sunday, December 27, 2009

aTONEment: Steelers Win


How good of a game did LaMarr Woodley have today? He led the team with 10 tackles, had 2 sacks, forced an interception by hitting Flacco's arm while he was throwing, and forced a fumble on the biggest play of the game. LaMarr has really turned it on the second half of the season, and is once again looking like the disruptive force he was last season. It didn't hurt that Baltimore couldn't block him with one or two guys all day. All in all, the defense played pretty well. Ike Taylor played an inspired game with a sack and a fumble recovery. Baltimore didn't even throw to his side of the field, picking on Gay and Townsend all day. At the end of the day, a win is a win and we'll take it any way we can get it. Oh, and we're still alive in the playoff hunt.

Game Recap

The Steelers win the toss and take the ball. Ben hits Hines for a first down to get things rolling, then Mendenhall gets a few totes to get us across the 50. Ben goes back to Hines to get inside the 40, but the drive stalls, forcing a punt.

Woodley sets the tone for the defense by hitting Flacco's arm on 3rd down, forcing a bad pass that falls into Farrior's hands for the Steelers first interception since the Van Buren administration. Potsie takes it back inside the 10 to put the Steelers in great position.

The Steelers have been terrible in long goal-to-go scenarios this year, and this drive was no different. Ben tried The Super Bowl PlayTM to Holmes on third down and it almost got picked off. Reed hits a field goal for the early lead.


Flacco goes to work mixing runs and passes, moving the Ravens down the field. Tyrone Carter gives up a big catch on 3rd down to Kelly Washington that moves the Ravens inside the 20. The defense holds the Ravens to 3.


Logan breaks a big return across midfield, and Ben goes back to work. Wallace makes a great catch on the sidelines to get us into field goal range before the offense stalls again.


After a 3-and-out, Sam Koch shanks a punt, giving the Steelers another opportunity in plus territory.

Heath throws a great block for Tone on a WR screen, who picks up 13 as the quarter ends.

Second Quarter

After two carries by Mendenhall, Ben goes for Ward and the refs have to consult Eliot Stabler to figure out if it's a penalty or a felony. Eliot lets them know it's just pass interference, but he's still investigating what Brett Favre did to Percy Harvin after his first TD of the season. Two plays later...



Raise Some's 4 yard TD made him the 7th back in Steelers history to surpass 1,000 yards in a season. Not bad for the guy Ron Cook and Bob Smizik called a bust.

Flacco channels his inner Slytherin and moves the Ravens down the field to the 30. He goes play-action for Todd Heap-of-shit who is one-on-one with Deshea. Heap pushes Deshea in the back and comes up with the catch before rolling into the end zone.


Mendenhall fumbles for the first time since the Minnesota game, but the Steelers get it right back on a Ray Rice fumble.
Ike Taylor digs it out on the bottom of the pile.

Mike Wallace comes through on 3rd and 2 with a big catch-and-run down the sidelines, but Ben gets sacked, pushing us out of field goal range. Punt.

Baltimore grinds it out with McClain and look poised to tie the game up, but Ike Taylor breaks through the line on 3rd and 6, bringing Flacco down and knocking them out of field goal range.
Incredibly, in Dick LeBeau's defense where corners blitz often, this was only Ike's second sack of his career.

Two Minute Warning

With two minutes to go, 007 takes over at the 6. Things start to look bleak after an incompletion and Moore getting stuffed on a draw, but Ben takes advantage of a defensive offsides "free play" to go downtown for Wallace. Wallace makes the catch down the sidelines with Frank Walker all over him. Ben goes to Heath over the middle and the Steelers use a time out to set things up with just under 50 seconds to play. Hines pulls in a catch to get down to the 24. On 3rd and 2, Ben hits Tone on a quick slant that he turns upfield around the corner, fights past the safety, and stretches for the goal line...


Baltimore runs the ball and wastes their timeouts.


Met up with @alphadelt in the Great Hall at halftime.

Third Quarter

Apparently Baltimore's halftime discussion was, "Let's give the ball to Ray Rice." They came out afterwards and did, often. Rice does the grunt work to get down the field before Flacco finds a mismatch with Gay on Heap.
Gay got out-jumped for the ball.


Ben comes out and goes play-action for Tone, but Foxworth knocks him down and makes the interception. Foxworth takes it back to the house, but T-Suggs gets nailed for an illegal block, nullifying the TD but still giving Baltimore good field position.

Baltimore goes back to Rice, but the Steelers are ready this time. Ike seemingly comes up with another sack on 3rd down, but it gets nullified on an offsides penalty. Flacco takes the opportunity to go deep for Heap-of-shit, but he can't make the diving catch with Mundy in coverage. Good stand by the defense to hold the Ravens to 3.


Ben gets sacked and the Steelers go 3-and-out, bringing their offensive play count in the third quarter to 4. Ouch.

The Steelers have another sack nullified on an illegal hands to the face penalty when Big Snack knocked a guy's helmet off. Ray Rice goes back to work carving us up, and Baltimore looks poised to take the lead, but they decide to pull a Plaxico. With the ball on the 21, Flacco goes for Mason in the end zone, but Mason channels his inner Limas Sweed.
Drop city.

The Ravens pick up two penalties on the next play, putting them in 2nd and 15. After another incompletion, a personal foul puts Baltimore in 3rd and 30. Woodley gets pressure on a 3-man rush forcing Flacco out of the pocket where Ziggy makes a great play in the open field to cut down Flacco's angle and force a throw-away. Punt.

Tone puts the team on his back on 3rd down and moves the chains, but the Steelers can't get across their own 40 and have to punt.

On second down, Flacco goes deep for Mason who appears to catch the ball and then get clobbered by Lawrence Timmons. The refs rule it incomplete and tell Tomlin during the break "You can challenge, but we're going to rule it incomplete." All the replays seem to show it was a catch and fumble, but Baltimore got flagged for holding Harrison, putting them in 2nd and 16 and without Mason. Ziggy busts through the line and gets his first sack of the season. Punt.

The Steelers get to a 3rd and 3, and with Hines out of the game, Ben hits his replacement, Tyler Grisham across the middle for 14 yards and a first down.
Rookie out of Clemson showing he's got some potential.

The Steelers go to the Hypocycloid formation, and the Ravens shift all their defenders to the Hypo side. Ben audibles to a quick-hitter to Holmes, who makes a move around Foxworth and takes it all the way down to the 19.

After a false start on Colon, Mendenhall gets a few back, but Grisham takes his eye off the ball on 3rd down and can't haul in the pass. He was short of the sticks anyways.

Nailed it.


With 5 and a half to play, Steelers Nation was nervous given the body of work our fourth quarter defense has this year. After a huge return across midfield, at least 10 people jumped off the 9th Street Bridge. Baltimore picked up a first down at the 38 and looked poised to move into field goal territory. After the defense stacked up Rice and McClain to force 3rd and 7 at the 35, Woodley storms the backfield and brings down Flacco.

For some unknown reason, the Steelers take a timeout with 2:34 remaining. Baltimore has to go for it on 4th and 10. With a 3-man rush, Woodley dominates two blockers and hits Flacco from behind..
...the ball pops out, bounces off a helmet, and into the waiting hands of Ziggy Hood.

Big-time turnover by the defense. Two sacks in two plays by Woodley. What a player.

The offense comes out with 2 1/2 to play needing 1 first down to win the game. Mendenhall gets a carry and Baltimore uses their last timeout. Mendenhall gets another carry and the clock winds down to two.

Two Minute Warning

On 3rd and 11 the Steelers need a first down to win the game. With the season on the line, you have to be aggressive here and throw. Don't question that decision at all. Running the ball here would have given Baltimore the ball with over a minute to play.

Ben does his Ben thing and scrambles out of pressure then tries to go downfield for Mike Wallace who is streaking open but the ball gets picked off. The Ravens bring it back across the 50 and look poised to have a shot to win the game.

But wait, Frank Walker channeled his inner Plaxico and shot himself in the foot by holding Mike Wallace at the beginning of the play, drawing a flag from the officials. The Ravens whine and moan that Ben was out of the pocket when the contact happened, but to no avail, because they were wrong.

Victory formation.



Players of the Game:
Offensive Game Ball - Santonio Holmes
Defensive Game Ball - LaMarr Woodley

Honorable Mentions:
Ziggy Hood
Ike Taylor
Mike Wallace
Ben Roethlisberger
Rashard Mendenhall

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Giving up 141 yards to Ray Rice
It's quite possible that the loss of Aaron Smith is finally catching up to the defense. There were a lot of missed tackles out there today, which didn't help the run defense. Baltimore did give Rice a lot of carries (30) and the Steelers held him to a long of 16. All in all, Rice rang up a lot of yards, but the Steelers came away with the win, so there can't be too much to hate about this game.

Final Thoughts
  • Great to get a win over the Ravens
  • How much does Tone own the Ravens? That's 5 consecutive games against them with a TD.
  • The Steelers coaches finally got wise to the fact that Ty Carter can't cover and started taking him out on obvious passing situations. They were rotating Mundy and Deshea into the other safety spot.
  • Deshea got the start at corner opposite Ike. He played better than Gay did today.
  • Woodley is a hell of a player. Hard to believe he's only in his third year. He just dominated Baltimore's O-line today
  • Gotta love seeing Baltimore shoot themselves in the foot.
  • Mendenhall did a decent job against a tough run defense for only getting 17 carries. He's going to be the best back we've had since the Bus.
  • First time in Steelers history there has been a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and two 1,000-yard receivers.
  • Ben is the first QB in Steelers history to surpass 4,000 passing yards
  • Stefan Logan, for all the criticism he's gotten, broke Ernie Mills' record for kickoff return yards in a season.
  • We're still alive in the playoff race.
  • The Colts didn't do us any favors today by resting Manning and company in the second half.
  • New England took care of business today.
  • No idea what was going on with the Mason fumble. Coach seemed pretty clueless about it in his press conference as well.
  • Ziggy is really starting to turn it on. He's going to be a beast.
  • Despite the drop, Tyler Grisham ran some good routes out there and has some decent potential for the future. Not bad for an undrafted free agent.
  • Ramon Foster played well in his 3rd start. Another undrafted free agent that the Steelers made into a starter.
  • Baltimore never had the lead in this game. This was the best game our defense has played since the Denver game.
  • This is the 2nd consecutive regular season Steelers-Ravens game in Pittsburgh that ended 23-20
  • We're still alive!

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