Monday, September 12, 2011

The Baltimassacre: Steelers Lose

Yikes. Well, let's put it this way: I honestly can't remember the last time the Steelers had 7 turnovers in a game. And you're never, ever, going to win when you turn the ball over 7 times.

This looks suspicious.....

This isn't going to be fun, but let's get through this thing. Honestly wouldn't blame you if you just scroll to the "Final Thoughts" section.

Game Recap

The Steelers win the toss and defer, giving the Ravens the ball.

They come right out on the ground and Ray Rice rips off a huge gain behind Vonte Leach. Two plays later, Flacco goes to the air and goes right after B-Mac, dropping the ball in to Boldin just out of B-Mac's reach. Really good throw by Flacco, B-Mac had decent coverage. Either way, it's a touchdown.


The Steelers come out running and Mendenhall gets 11 yards on two carries, but then the Steelers go to the air and the drive stalls out.

Baltimore comes back picking on B-Mac again, but two holding penalties (one which wipes out a big gain down the middle which was an obvious hold on Harrison) end their drive. 
Kinda surprised that penalty actually got called. Harrison usually never gets those.

The offense starts moving the ball with two WR screens. I hate that play, but it worked with Wallace to move the sticks. Ben keeps working it to Wallace to move the chains again before the wheels fall off. Suggs runs a stunt from the right side and blows up the middle and annihilates Ben, knocking the ball out.

The Ravens almost score two plays later on a Ray Rice run but it's ruled he was down at the 1. Rice plows in behind Leach two plays later.


Down by 14, the Steelers keep it on the ground, and Mendenhall rips off a 23-yarder. The offense keeps rolling behind a pass to Heath and a Redman rumble.

Second Quarter

With the ball in the red zone, it's Mendenhall time and he gets 3 straight carries to move the chains. Manny Sanders makes a 3rd down grab to get us into goal-to-go then steps up on a scramble play and pulls down a touchdown in the back of the end zone.


The defense comes back out and comes up with a big stop, giving the offense a chance to tie the game. However, after we had picked up 37 of the 68 yards on the ground on the last drive, we go to the air 3 straight times and fail to move the chains. Terrible way to respond after a touchdown drive and a stop. In retrospect, I really wish they would have gone to the ground there.

The Ravens turn around and march right back down the field, mostly on the back of Ray Rice, converting 3 third downs before getting into 3rd and 6 in the red zone when Flacco hits Rice down the sideline and he dives in over the pylon.

Well, shit.


The Steelers crap on themselves in the 2-minute drill. The Ravens move the ball a little, but run out of time.

Third Quarter

The Steelers get the ball to start but right off the bat it all goes to hell. Ben bobbles a snap then barely gets the ball into Mendenhall's hands right before he gets utterly destroyed by Ngata, knocking the ball out. The Ravens go right after us, with Flacco going play-action and hitting some tight end in the end zone. Troy had decent coverage in front of him, but Flacco threw it where only his guy could catch it. Inexplicably, the Ravens run a fake field goal for the two point conversion. Um...okay...


Things go from bad to worse as Ngata gets a paw on a pass and the ball falls right into Ray Lewis' hands. Two plays, two turnovers. Ngata is a freaking monster.

The defense steps up and stops the Ravens inside the 10. Rather than tack on more points, and kick the easy field goal, the Ravens opt to go for it on 4th and 1 and James Harrison blows up Ray Rice in the hole.

Ben hits Wallace for a few solid gains then Hines across the middle for a big gain to move down into Ravens territory. Redman converts a 3rd and 1 inside the red zone, but Ben underthrows Heath, who is open in the end zone, on a scramble play and Ed Reed makes the pick.

On the back of two big passes to Boldin and a big run by Ricky Williams, the Ravens move back down the field into the red zone. The defense holds and forces a field goal.


The Steelers go 3-and-out after 3 incompletions and seem to hold the Ravens, but a penalty on Ike Taylor in a giant scrum (no idea how there weren't offsetting penalties on this one) gives the Ravens new life.

Fourth Quarter

Not a whole lot really happened here, so we'll breeze through the key points:

The Steelers finally got a sack when Woodley brings down Flacco. We really had no pressure all day.

Ben threw a horrible interception on the run to Ed Reed...really no receivers around, he just threw it right to him. 

For some unknown reason, Ben played the whole game at QB.

Mewelde Moore fumbled after a good run on a screen pass.

Ben got sacked again and fumbled, leading to another Ravens field goal to make it 35-7.

Suggs sacked Ben on the last play of the game...that pretty much summed up the whole day.

Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Mike Wallace
Defensive Game Ball: Ike Taylor

Honorable Mentions:
LaMarr Woodley
Emmanuel Sanders
Daniel Sepulveda

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game

Having as many turnovers as points

Yeah, that's never a good thing. You're not going to win any games with this kind of stat line, and it's a little surprising we only gave up 35 considering how many turnovers we had.

Final Thoughts
  • This was probably the worst start to the season we can remember since the early 2000s.
  • Ray Rice had 107 rushing yards, but he had a lot of carries that didn't net much. He had a few big runs though. Vonte Leach was a huge pickup.
  • To his credit, Flacco did make some really nice throws for touchdowns today. The pass to Boldin and the one to the TE that Troy was covering were right where they needed to be.
  • The offensive line was bad today. Legursky got rocked by Ngata and Jonathan Scott was completely out of his league against Suggs.
  • Suggs had 3 sacks today, and he was owning Scott all day. No clue why Arians refused to switch to formations that had a blocking back in the backfield to help chip Suggs and protect Ben.
  • For being a franchise QB, Ben gets beat up a lot and the O-line looked like it's old Maginot Line-self again today.
  • Mendenhall was running well until the fumble to start the second half then we pretty much gave up on the running game. I know the score was getting out of reach, but having Ben throw 41 times isn't the recipe for success.
  • Ike Taylor had a great game against Lee Evans. Evans was targeted 4 times and had no catches. For anyone that didn't think Ike was a necessity to re-sign, there's your proof.
  • Woodley had a sack, but we barely had any pressure on the QB today. That HAS to change.
  • In the end, it's only the first game of the season, and we still get Baltimore at home. We lost to them last year early and still won the division.
  • That said, there was some poor coverage and really sloppy tackling out there today.
  • Gotta go balls-to-the-wall against Seattle next week. Let's go.


Fred Zarguna said...

The Steelers were only missing one thing: a brighly painted little car -- not quite big enough to hold all of them -- with a bike horn to bring them onto the field. [Except that Emmett Kelly or Bozo would have done a better job of coaching the Offense.]

To their credit, Baltimore came in with a New England game plan, so effectively copied by the Packers in the Super Bowl. Lebeau made a decent adjustment, and if you watch the second half, the Ravens were pretty well shut down on offense; they had ONE decent drive in the 2nd half as the result of a fatal momentum-changing interception on the 2 yard line. Other than that, they were mostly contained. But already down 21-7, the Defense clearly needs to show up before quarter number three.

Blaming the result of this game on turnovers is, quite frankly, preposterous. The real problem is that the Steelers had no discernible game plan to speak of on offense. None. We have SO much more speed than the Ravens, yet there was not ONE play designed to exploit that advantage. NOT ONE. What good is our receiver corps going to be if we don't leverage their strengths?

BA's answer to #7 having an awful game, is, was, and always will be: "throw more of #7 onto the fire." No. It doesn't work and never has. It's time for the Steelers to acknowledge that like many brilliant gunslingers, Roethlisberger has VERY BAD DAYS. When he does, we need an answer, and it isn't packing the ball between the tackles for one down and then just going back to Ben again.

Epic FAIL by the coaching staff; especially head coach and offense. Who in the world thought this team was ready for opening day?

The Steelers n'at Staff said...

Thanks for your comment!

I agree with you, I've had a lot of problems with out offensive gameplan (or lack thereof) in the past. The reason Arians offense blows is because it's basically schoolyard. It boils down to "Let's let Ben run around then find someone open and throw him the ball." There aren't plays specifically designed to get guys open. Guys get open on their own, not because of the design of the scheme. This problem is bigger than just this game, it's been an issue over the last 4 seasons, but it certainly did manifest itself here.