Inside The Tape: Breakdown Of Steelers Versus Ravens

Game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers win over the Baltimore Ravens. Apologies for not having anything last week. My Coaches Film and immune system were not cooperating. Please be merciful, Steelers Depot commenters.


First Half

– Kick return unit. Shamarko Thomas, Vince Williams, Stevenson Sylvester, Terence Garvin, and Antwon Blake the front five. Followed by the usual: Michael Palmer/David Paulson, Al Woods/Cam Heyward forming the wedge. Jonathan Dwyer the upback with Felix Jones the KR.

– Like last week, started the game in a Heavy set. Extra offensive lineman (Mike Adams), 1 FB, 1 TE, 1 WR in a nasty split.

– Spot route on the first play of the game. Will Johnson in the flats to draw away the OLB, Ben Roethlisberger hits Antonio Brown on the curl.


– 2nd and 9, 13:27 1st. First power run of the day. Steelers blow the Ravens off the ball. Courtney Upshaw run out of the play, Haloti Ngata ends up on the ground. Team set the tone early.

– Blake/Thomas (Curtis Brown inactive) starting gunners. Robert Golden the upback/personal protector. Others on the line from L-R. Palmer, Sylvester, Garvin, W. Johnson, Jason Worilds, Paulson.

– Ravens first run of the game. Again, shows the power/influence of Troy Polamalu and how he screws with offensive blocking schemes. Troy up on the LOS, Ravens don’t know who to block him with. Center? Guard? They double him and Lawrence Timmons and Thomas are free. Ray Rice gains just one yard. Troy pulling nose tackle duty at a fraction of the size.



Ike Taylor/Cortez Allen starting jammers. Second straight week with that duo.

– Steelers being creative in the run game. Fake end around to hold Terrell Suggs and kick him out with the FB taking advantage of the angle instead of dedicating a tackle on him. Marcus Gilbert allowed to get to the second level immediately. Le’Veon Bell rumbles for 11.


– Like Coach Tomlin said, the Wildcat plays were still core running plays just with window dressing. Doubt there are even reads on these plays, just designed fakes.

– Gilbert tried to tough out quad but slipped/fell on the first Wildcat play. That likely did him in and he didn’t return to the game following that.

– Next Wildcat. Just some good ‘ol Power O. Everything else that window dressing.


– Bell ran with good vision all game and not knowing the playcall obviously makes any conclusions difficult. But think Bell could have/should have hit the “D” gap instead of bouncing it and getting tackled by the DB in the open field.


– Guy Whimper with a key block at the 2nd level on Heath Miller’s shovel pass TD.

– Kick coverage.

L1 – Cortez Allen

L2 – Robert Golden

L3 – Shamarko Thomas

L4 – Stevenson Sylvester

L5 – Chris Carter

R5 ( player closest to kicker on his right side) – Antwon Blake

R4 – Terence Garvin

R3 – Will Allen

R2 – Will Johnson

R1 – William Gay

– Timmons shedding Kelechi Osemele in the GIF below. If he doesn’t come off the block, Rice may have had a big gainer with the safety taking a bad angle.


– Again, reason why Steve McClendon such an asset on inside/outside zone plays (which Baltimore ran a ton). If he’s shaded to the playside, the center has no chance to reach block him and he’ll blow the play up. Going to start forcing the frontside guard to have to chip him which will obviously make it harder for the guard to get to his block. All a domino effect.



Example on 3rd and 1 with Gino Gradkowski unable to get to McClendon, who blows the play up for a loss.

– Check out Le’Veon Bell making veteran linebacker Daryl Smith look silly with this little fake to the outside. Then cuts it back in for a good gain. Nasty.


– Mike Adams lined up once on the left side in pass protection. Lined up on the left side one or two more times but both run blocking assignments.

Torrey Smith really running Ike Taylor off with speed, creating a ton of separation on this curl route. Pass was incomplete, however.


LaMarr Woodley sack. All because of the scheme. Cam Heyward slants to his right, Jason Worilds to his left. Woodley loops to the inside and is left one-on-one with the back.




Elvis Dumvervil gets a great jump on this play and Guy Whimper still able to push him up the arc.


Second Half

– Early 3rd, Troy not too happy about Osemele cutting him at the knees on a run block. Gives him a shove at the end of the play and the two get in each other’s face. Picture of the block.


– Think pressure from Timmons/Woodley didn’t let Joe Flacco get everything into his underthrown deep ball that was broken up by William Gay. Still, a nice play by Gay. Recovers, plays the pocket of the receiver, and breaks the pass up.

– Beautiful eye manipulation from Ben on Daryl Smith to complete this pass to Paulson for 17. Looks off him to move him, and then comes back to Paulson.




– Heath again lunging in pass protection, allowing pressure. Happened to him vs the Jets, too. Strange.


– Whimper combo blocks on Ngata, knocks him off balance and then works to the second level and engages the linebacker (though he can’t stick for more than a second). But still, this is NOT the same Guy Whimper I saw got toasted in the preseason.



– Flacco sneak. McClendon got turned to the side so ample room for Flacco to roll over the top.


– Ravens onside kick. Sure, Sly freight-training Justin Tucker is what most people are talking about. But how about Vince Williams shedding a block and recovering the ball. Realize the play was negated but at the time, no one knew. What Williams did was just as important, if not more so.


– Steelers ran a ton of divide route (any combo routes that put stress on a safety, think post/corner route combinations) but the Ravens’ safeties didn’t bite. Good job on their part.

James Ihedigbo slapped Will Johnson across the helmet middle of the 4th. So Johnson shoved him back. And Ihedigbo acts like he was tasered and pulls the biggest flop you’ll ever see this side of the NBA.

– Rub route to Tandon Doss on Ravens last drive to move the sticks.


– Ravens’ game-tying TD. Sell the run well (low hat with the lineman as opposed to high hat they used on 1st and Goal, pictures below). Tough to defend.



– Heyward, Blake, and Dwyer all with key blocks on Emmanuel Sanders near return touchdown.

– Interference by Ladarius Webb on Sanders on the final drive. Sanders ran a similar route the previous drive but kept running to the inside, getting separation vs Webb. Webb thinks he’s going inside again but when Sanders stems outside, Webb has no choice but to grab him. Probably not the most telling pictures, but to get you an idea of the routes. Todd Haley does a nice job of setting up plays. Runs one to set up the next. Another example here.



– Honestly, there wasn’t much of a rub on the Antonio Brown catch that put the team in field goal range. More a result of his outside stem that opened up the cornerbacks hips just enough that gave Brown more than enough separation when he worked back to the inside. Pitch and catch.


– Big part of the team’s running success was getting lineman to and engaging at the second level. Much less of the free linebackers roaming around that we’ve seen in weeks prior.

– David DeCastro was vastly improved but still work to do. Still has to mirror better, be more apt to stunts, and stick on his blocks, especially in space. But as Tomlin would say, the dial is pointing up.

– Something about facing Michael Oher but LaMarr Woodley just dominates him (maybe Woodley hates Sandra Bullock?). Constantly winning the leverage war and getting under Oher’s pads. Size advantage Woodley has of course a factor but Woodley dominates him more than any other tackle he faces.

– Ben working outside of the pocket, being involved in crazy scramble drills draws the highlights but watching Ben’s mobility inside the pocket is just as much fun. Does not get the credit he deserves for that aspect. Always resets his feet when he can and shows the ability to manipulate coverage with his eyes.

– The Le’Veon Bell I watched in this game is not the one I saw at Michigan State. Much more patient, much better vision. Long ways to go but a great start.

– Team played a ton of dime. Ran it on 47 of 65 snaps and used subpackage on 51. Vince Williams saw just 15 snaps. Steve McClendon 17.

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