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Friday, November 29, 2013

Post-Ravens thoughts part II

The NFL has been playing games on Thanksgiving for a long time, but Thursday night's game between the Ravens and Steelers just might have been one of the best ever played.

It was that great of a game.

Even Steelers fans, who are no doubt disappointed, have to admit it was an enjoyable viewing.

@ Both Emmanuel Sanders and Ben Roethlisberger took the blame for the failed two-point conversion play, but that would not have been as easy catch - not with Chykie Brown face guarding Sanders.

Sorry, but that should have been a penalty.

@ Many will focus on that failed conversion as the reason for this loss. But there were plenty of other reasons that were far more important.

How about the special teams coverage unit, which has been solid all season, giving up a 73-yard return following Sanders' touchdown catch that cut the lead to 13-7?

When your head coach comes the closest to tackling the return man before he's finally dragged down, that's not a good thing.

And then there was the botched field goal attempt.

The defense has to shoulder some blame as well. The Steelers forced one punt. Two other Baltimore possessions ended with the clock running out at the end of the halves.

The other six possessions were finished off with the Ravens scoring - one touchdown and five field goals.

To be fair, though, the Ravens had just two drives in the game that were over 50 yards. They had field goal drives of 48, 31, 52, 37 and 36 yards thanks to good field position.

Baltimore had just two possessions that started inside its own 20. It didn't score on either one.

The Steelers had six of eight possessions start inside their own 21.

@ Jason Worilds had more tackles (10), sacks (2) and QB hits (3) than Baltimore's Terrell Suggs (0 sacks, 1 tackle, 1 hit) and Elvis Dumervil (3-0-0) had combined.

@ As badly as the Steelers would have liked to have won this game, it doesn't kill their playoff hopes.

The Ravens get the Vikings at home next, then have road games at Detroit and Cincinnati sandwiched around a home game against New England. Can you say 1-3? They'll go 2-2 at best.

The schedule for the other 5-6 teams aren't much easier.

The Steelers have three home games, including one against the Bengals, who are much better at home than one the road, and a road game at Green Bay.

The Ravens needed this game at lot more than the Steelers, who should be able to finish out 3-1 at worst, especially if they continue to protect Roethlisberger.

He's now been sacked just once in the past three games.

@ A number of fans went after Sanders on Twitter, with those telling him he stinks being the nicest.

There were also some downright nasty tweets thrown his way.

What kind of life do you have if you think it's your mission in life to tweet a player to rip him?

Seems a bit silly and childish. Then again, I get similar tweets all the time. Come to think of it, that might be more sad.

@ Count me among the people who buy Mike Tomlin's explanation for being on the edge of the field for Jones' kickoff return.

Tomlin was clearly watching the return when Jones was fielding the kick in the end zone. Not that you'll see that on ESPN or the NFL Network. They need to drive some ratings with the latest controversy.

That said, Tomlin will be hearing from the league office and will likely face a fine.

@ Le'Veon Bell has had his two best games this season against the Ravens.

The concussion Bell suffered at the end of this game was one of the worst I've seen in 20-plus years of covering the NFL.

@ It's now 6 a.m. and I've got to get to bed and digest this one a little more.


Anonymous said...

There's no face guarding in the NFL (unless Peyton Manning is throwing the ball)

Anonymous said...

This game was a microcosm of the season: dug a huge hole early and when they started playing well, it was too little, too late

Anonymous said...

Still don't understand 3 straight runs to start the game. Might as well punt on first down

totaji said...

These Steelers are just too unlucky for a decent playoff run. Will they even have an offensive?
The real elephant in the room is Woodly? At best he is back up when he gets healthy. Worlds has earned his spot.

adams said...

No, the 2 pt throw was not an easy catch, but these guys are pros and that catch has to be made regardless when the receiver gets his hands on the ball. It wasn't the only catchable ball Sanders dropped in the game either. His inconsist hands are a big reason he won't be retained in 2014.

If you want to talk flags that weren't thrown, how about Smith pushing off Ike in the endzone before catching Balt's lone TD? If Taylor did the same, it'd have been a PI.

The TD should never have been taken away from Bell. It's not like he had a chance to stop playing since the hit, the helmet and the forward momentum into the endzone all happened pretty much simultaneously. I hope Bell is ok because that was that was scary to watch his head bounce off the ground.

Another smart, disciplined game by BR. Maybe the no huddle was what it took to make him give up the sandlot style. Kudos to Haley for recognizing it.

mv7267 said...

No penalty on the 2 pt. play. The DB, and evidently Sanders also, didn't know the pass was thrown. Lots of other factors have to be inplay for face guarding to be called other than the DB has his back to the LOS and hands in air. He sorta did make a play on the ball. Good no call. And yes, I am a football official, not NFL but that's an across board interpretation. If anything, a case could be made on the pass that Johnson dropped, that DB rode his back.

There were a quite a few interesting no calls, Suggs beats Adams and hits Ben low, Romo got the same early and an additional 15. Kiesel hit Flacco in the head, even unintentionable is a PF, and how can there be no flag on Bell's play? I was happy to see Oher finally getting called, he has been illegal for his entire career.

Good game none the less, Haley needs to go. Actually, his playbook needs to go. When your secret 2 pt. play has to be your TD and now you have nothing but the same play left.

Anonymous said...

It was actually 5 straight runs if you count their next possession too.

Frank Beans said...

The Steelers simply aren't good enough to spot teams a 13 point lead. Maybe next season they'll realize the season starts Week 1.

marc said...

Great game, had a little bit of everything. Steelers had their chances and didn't execute. They should sign worilds right now. I agree with dale, the steelers will overtake the ravens by the end of the season if they continue to play well. Bell is a stud, btw.

Anonymous said...

Le'Veon Bell looks like the real deal. However, he also looks like a budding 'showboat' also. I don't like rookies that act the way he does. He's still "wet behind the ears"!

Easley said...

Somebody in a previous thread really nailed it. He predicted a tough loss and said this would be the game that really gets you mad about the earlier losses to Tenn., Minn. and Oak. This would be an easier to swallow loss if we'd been ready to play in any of those other games.

We played well, Ravens made a few more plays. Like so many of these Raven-Steeler games, a play here or there would've swung it. Their kicker is money, and they did a great job at exploiting Troy's freelancing ways.

I'll be haunted forever by the 3rd rounder we could've had for Sanders.

Oh well. I hope we have enough guys to field an offensive line next week. I'm eager to get an injury update on Beachum and Velasco.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't we run more wildcat plays? Nothing is as advantageous as playing offense with 10 guys, making yourself completely one dimensional, and taking your best player completely out of the equation.

We need to see more of that Todd Haley brilliance.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad we lost but this team wasn't going to compete in the playoffs anyways. It's a rebuilding year.

The truly sad part of this game is that Worlids played well again and we won't be able to retain him because of all the contracts we have restructure over the last few years. We are paying vets so much that we can't keep our draft picks.

joe said...

we too thought it was a good game to watch. as is the case with steelers/rats....a few plays here and there made the difference.

obviously hoping bell is ok, wicked hits.

bell wasn't the only one celebrating a first down, while losing.

i (and everyone watching here) don't believe tomlin. very big fine should be coming his way. very big.
once again, good game to watch.

Dale Lolley said...

Woodley a backup? What exactly has Jarvis Jones done to deserve to start ahead of him?

They were limited in what they could call on the two-point play without Bell in there. Remember, too, the flurry of crap that happened on that last drive. Thought they scored with Miller. Overturned. Thought Bell scored. Overturned after 10 minute delay.

I don't have an issue with the two-point call. Plenty of options. Ben decided to go after the guy who just entered the game.

I might add that the Steelers had plenty of success running the football in both games against the Ravens. Have to establish a running game to slow down Dumervill, Suggs and Ngata, which they did.

Steve-O said...

This was a hard fought game and admittedly I was frustrated by the Steelers' mental mistakes but I applaud their resilience and tough as nails attitude. The Ravens made fewer mistakes which ultimately won them the game but I think they are more relieved than confident. If the Steelers continue playing with this attitude, and the youngsters continue to grow, I think the future will be bright for this team.

One question Dale: I was really impressed with Beachum last night. Is he the long term answer or just a stop gap measure pending the draft?

Anonymous said...

"Jason Worilds had more tackles (10), sacks (2) and QB hits (3) than Baltimore's Terrell Suggs (0 sacks, 1 tackle, 1 hit) and Elvis Dumervil (3-0-0) had combined."

As Patrick and others have mentioned before, this must be keeping Colbert up at nights. Losing Keenan Lewis last year hurt, losing Woirlds this year will hurt even more. Explain to me how the Steelers can rebuild while continually losing young talent?

Let's try a new strategy, at the end of a player's third year, a decision should be made whether to resign him or not. If the player has not played much up to that point, then the coaches need to make an assessment of whether this player can develop into a starter shortly. This is extremely critical and will require some judgment, but someone like LeBeau may be able to offer guidance. At the beginning of the season, if Woirlds had been offered a contract that was double his previous salary, had incentives if he outplayed his contract but had some protection for the Steelers such as some backloading of the contract or a minimal signing bonus, it may work. Let's say Jones turned out to be a stud his rookie year and Woodley doesn't get hurt, then Woirlds sits on the bench untried, but at least not gone. And if Woirlds was a bust, the Steelers cut him without too much collateral damage. It's maddening to see young talent leave after playing for one year.

Dale Lolley said...

You are assuming that Worilds is gone. I don't think that is necessarily the case. Remember, he's from New Jersey, so he's not far removed from his hometown. Lewis clearly wanted a chance to leave and took the hometown money. I've never gotten the feeling talking to Worilds that he wants to go.

And yes, I think they're warming up to the idea that Beachum can handle the job

Anonymous said...


You're right, it's an assumption on my part. However, the Steelers are up against the cap again in 2014, more teams are playing the 3-4 defense so the demand for this type of player is there and if Woirlds continues to play at this level, the Steelers won't be able to afford him.

adamg said...

It's hard to watch line play on TV, but from what I can see, Beachum is not an OT. It seems everytime I see him, he is beaten by his man. If BR wasn't doing a better job stepping up in the pocket, he'd be giving up a lot of sacks.

As for the criticism of Haley, he's the one who's allowing BR to use an offense where he's most comfortable and BR is responding by playing smart, disciplined football.
The fact is not even Arians let BR use the no huddle very much.

Easley said...

The point is that Ben now actually has a clean pocket to step into, which was not the case early in the season, and is because Beachum is playing with good technique and is not letting his man beat him to the inside very often. Is he the long term answer? I don't know, but he's definitely the best left tackle we have right now.

totaji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I thought Lewis really wanted to stay, until the Steelers showed no interest in retaining him. Saying they'd let the market determine his worth. Wasnt' until he signed with NO that the talk of taking less to play at home. Who knows if that's true, or just happy talk. Who knows if he was being entirely truthful back in Jan/Feb when he was talking about how much he wanted to stay.

Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I don't recall hearing any contract negotiation talks between the Steelers and Lewis. All we heard was how much the Steelers liked Cortez Allen, that he gives them everything Lewis does, plus INTs. This was reported by just about everyone, so I'm guessing it was talking points put out by the org, rather than mass conjecture.

As much as I like Ike, and acknowledging it woulda been cold-blooded, but the correct route woulda been retaining Lewis and letting Ike go. No offense Dale, but I'm not buying they had no chance to resign homesick Lewis. They had exclusive nego. rights up until March, when he had a 'staying' frame of mind.

Ike has been the quintessential professional. I can't think of a more ideal employee than him. He took less than market to stay twice. He keeps himself in pique physical condition year round. And he recruited many others to do the same. High character, and close to Dan Rooney. That's why I didn't expect them to consider letting him go, even tho it was obviously the best business decision they could make at the time.

Anonymous said...

Does Tomlin still do his 'News' updates? Wonder if he'll be his own headline. "Don't be 'that' guy".

Funny, earlier in the game, following another post whistle scrum, Tomlin was getting after his players to keep their heads and stay focused. Can't believe he'd then be that oblivious to what's going on, and his own position on the field. Wasn't just Jones who altered his course because of Tomlin. The trailing ref did as well. Can't believe he didn't get flagged for being in the white. Ironic thing is, Tomlin probably saved Jones from stepping out of bounds, cuz he was really flirting with stepping out before turning it back inside.

I don't know what to think. I just know whatever that was doesn't reflect well on Tomlin. Either tried to cheat, or astonishingly unaware. Neither good.

Dale Lolley said...

The Steelers are up against the cap, but have some space to clear. Levi Brown, for example.

As for Lewis, they didn't want to set the market for him because they knew he was probably going somewhere else and they couldn't match.

Works like this, the Steelers offer him 4 year at $24 million. Now he has a number to go shopping with. They knew they had Cortez Allen ready to play and had already made the move to re-sign Gay.

With Worilds, they could make a preemptive strike. He's a smart guy. He knows he can star in this defense. Don't discount Woodley being the one to go, either.

Easley said...

So Velasco went on the IR. Damn. I don't suppose there's another former starting center that we can sign off the street and plug in is there? Can't get that lucky twice.

Anonymous said...

How can Woodley possibly be the one to go? If he were cut or traded, he'd have an accelerated dead cap hit of 14.1 million...

Face Guarding is not a penalty... pass interference is a penality, and when a player MAKES CONTACT while face guarding, pass interference should be called.

Did Brown make contact with Sanders?