Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Valar Morghulis: Steelers Lose


The atmosphere for the first playoff game at Heinz Field since 2010 was absolutely electric. The people sitting behind me asked what I thought about the game and the first thing I said was "we need to score 30 to win."

Offense got the nod for the intros. The Steelers won the toss and took the ball.

In a bit of a surprise, Ben Tate started the game in the backfield as the Steelers tried to work him in. He looked good on his first few touches but coughed the ball up, which we were lucky that AB was able to recover. AB ws able to pick up a 3rd down and get us to the fringe of field goal range but a sack set things back and that was that.

Brad Wing actually pinned the Ravens deep and the defense was able to hold to a 3-and-out, which was the only time we stopped them all game.

Martavis Bryant showed up big time in this game and started to look like a complete receiver, showing off much more of the route tree than we had previously seen. Bryant made an exquisite catch on a back-shoulder throw to convert a 3rd down on a stop-route down the sideline to get us to the edge of the red zone. The offense couldn't do much else as Dri got swallowed by Suggs and Ben got sacked by Dumervil.


Flacco took a deep shot and McCain made a great play to knock the ball away. A flag came out from the back judge and the crowd was irate thinking it would be pass interference.

Everyone was so busy watching McCain's leap to knock the ball away we overlooked Mitchell throwing his helmet to the dude. The Ravens took the 15 yards and started rolling into their outside zone running game.

Commercial Break

Folks in my section sang "Happy Birthday" to me too, so that was fun. Also, happy birthday to this guy:

Second Quarter

In a drive that would give Gary Kubiak wet dreams, Forsett got chunks on the ground in the outside zone and Flacco hit Owen Daniels a few times to march inside the 5. Bernard Pierce cashed it in.


Ben came right back with a beautiful deep out to AB that pretty much no one can stop. A few plays later, he was able to scramble away from pressure and find Heath wide open down the right side to get us into Ravens territory. We worked our way into field goal range and Ben took a shot for AB in the end zone on 3rd and 1 but he got pushed out and couldn't get both feet down.
A penalty on the Ravens kept the drive alive but a sack of Ben stalled things out and brought out Suisham again.


Flacco came out and went right after the secondary, hitting Steve Smith down the sideline for 23 to get them near midfield then converting a 3rd and long with a pass to Daniels to get them into field goal range. Not much else happened and Tucker knocked one through.


The Steelers were able to pick up two solid chunks to get near midfield as the two minute warning hit. The Steelers had already spent a timeout and wasted another one after getting across midfield. Wheaton took advantage of the Ravens playing 2-deep and reeled in a crossing route and got out of bounds to get us into field goal range. The offense couldn't do much more and Ben took a check-down to Heath on 3rd and long. Suisham hit a 47-yarder to draw us within 1 at the half.


Third Quarter

The Ravens got the ball to start the second half and picked up right where they left off. Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a come-back route to convert a 3rd and long then hit the jackpot on pass interference roulette to get into field goal range.
Sean Spence sacked Flacco on first down but the Ravens were able to get it all back on 3rd down and get into Tucker's range.


At this point, the difference in the game was that the Steelers had kicked a field goal on their trip to the red zone and the Ravens had scored a touchdown.

The Steelers tried their hand at Pass Interference Roulette but the refs decided not to throw a flag after Bryant got knocked down.

Flacco continued to play pass interference roulette but actually connected on a pass to Steve Smith down the sideline, immediately putting the Ravens back in field goal range. the defense looked capable of holding the Ravens to 3 and on 3rd down James Harrison stormed around the edge and was microns away from swatting the ball out of Flacco's hand when Joe stepped up in the pocket away from Harrison, slid to his left and fired a touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone.

I hate to say it, but if it's 2008 or 2010, that's a strip-sack and Baltimore is either kicking a field goal or we're heading the other way with the ball. But in 2014, Harrison is just a shade too slow and it's a touchdown.

Just like your show did, in the end.


That put a damper on the crowd and the offense sputtered out another drive that included a 4th down conversion with Will Johnson pounding the rock but a sack on the subsequent 3rd down put an end to things.

Fourth Quarter

The Ravens drove it right back to midfield, converting a 4th and 1 with a QB sneak that everyone on earth knew was coming. However, on the next play two rookies stepped up with Ryan Shazier reaching a hand in and separating Forsett from the ball. Tuitt fell on it and the Steelers had new life at midfield.

Haley wasted no time and went right for it. Ben slung one deep to AB who was able to get between 3 Ravens defenders and make a leaping catch for what looked like a touchdown.

After review, they ruled his knee was down at the 1. Nevertheless, what a catch by AB.

After a false start that could've spelled trouble, Ben hit Bryant on a well-thrown fade.

Great job by Bryant going up and attacking the ball in the air. This was the most aggressive he was with his hands all season.

The Steelers opted to go for 2 to try to cut it to a 3-point game but Ben put a little too much air under a pass to AB and it was picked off.


The Steelers still had hope but the Ravens got a personal foul penalty tacked on to a good kick return. The defense held to 3rd and 13 but Flacco was able to hit Daniels wide open across the middle to move the sticks. The Ravens weren't able to convert again, but Tucker nailed a 52 yarder. That's unheard of at Heinz Field.


The Steelers weren't out of it yet but a series of unfortunate events would bury them.

On 3rd and short, Ben tried a check-down pass to Ben Tate that bounced off Tate's hands. Suggs made a rolling attempt at catching the ball and it was called an interception on the field, which everyone thought was wrong. As it turns out, Suggs trapped the ball between his thighs and it never touched the ground.

Mike Wallace made a similar catch for a touchdown a few years ago against Kansas City, so there's that.

Flacco hit some tight end on a crossing route that the Steelers had been unable to stop all day and the defense just laid down and let him walk into the end zone


Suggs making a big interception then Flacco throwing a big touchdown pass to a wide open tight end is basically the equivalent of Ned Stark getting beheadded.

There was still 8 minutes left in the game, but people started streaming out of their seats.

The offense was able to put together a drive into Ravens territory with Ben spreading the ball aroud to AB, Wheaton and Dri. Archer actually caught one out of the backfield and scampered into the end zone but the play was called back on a holding penalty.

On the next play, Ben got sacked and thrown to the ground and left the game. Bruce Gradkowski played his first snaps as a Steeler and completed two - one to Heath on 3rd and long then another to AB on 4th and 3 to move the chains. Ben came back in and tried to force one to AB which got picked off.

The Ravens were content to run the ball and punt but Shamarknado had other ideas, flying in and blocking the punt for a safety.


It was all over except for the details with under 2 minutes left and to add insult to injury Heath Miller fumbled after picking up a first down.

Flacco kneels it out.

Game Over.

Playoffs over.

Season Over.

Final Thoughts

These aren't really my final final thoughts for the season, I'll have more coming in a season wrap-up post, but here are my final thoughts on this game.

  • I guess 30 points was the magic number
  • Ravens showed no respect at all for the Steelers run game, played 2 safeties high the whole game, let their front 7 handle the run. The 2 safeties high effectively took away the deep ball, so before you think "we should've thrown deep more" wasn't there.
  • Biggest play of the game was Flacco stepping away from Harrison and throwing a TD to Torrey Smith.
  • Credit where credit is due, the Ravens had a good gameplan and executed it well. Converted a lot of 3rd and longs.
  • The Steelers played behind the chains most of the night and weren't great on 3rd down. Flacco converted some big ones.
  • Suggs and Dumervil dominated our tackles and we couldn't generate much of a pass rush on Flacco.
  • One truism of all sports is that the problems you have in the regular season will always come back to haunt you in the postseason. Our safeties were non-existent, we couldn't cover tight ends, we committed lots of penalties and we couldn't convert in the red zone.
  • The run defense was very good after the Ravens first touchdown drive.
  • The run defense was actually at its best when Dan McCullers was in at nose tackle, which is very encouraging moving forward.
  • Martavis Bryant showed signs of developing into a complete receiver. This was the best he attacked the ball in the air with his hands all year.
  • Josh Harris ran hard and didn't fumble, so there's that.
  • Wheaton did some good things out of the slot on crossing routes.
  • Stephon Tuitt really came on the second half of the season. He does a great job running to the ball. Huge fumble recovery after Shazier knocked it out.

No comments: