Steelers Versus Ravens Week 7 – First Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • While right tackle Marcus Gilbert reportedly told Jim Wexell that he’s not losing his “damn job”, he will need to be a quick healer and step up his game, starting next week. Guy Whimper played well at right tackle, especially given the situation and limited work in practice, and Mike Adams looked good as a tight end after being inactive last week.
  • Gilbert was flagged for a false start on the second play of the game, giving him the team lead in penalties with four this season and helping turn the first drive of the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers into a short one after a first down on the initial play.
  • Le’Veon Bell got the Steelers from a first and 15 to a third and one on two carries, then on third down, Ben Roethlisberger took a snap out of the shotgun with five targets and could not find anybody open. It did not help that Gilbert allowed a pressure from Elvis Dumervil, but that is a questionable play-calling decision that also was poorly executed.
  • Joe Flacco is lucky that Michael Oher was able to swat down the batted pass by LaMarr Woodley on the first play from scrimmage. That could have been a turnover and a big early momentum builder.
  • It seemed as though Jason Worilds had a pretty quiet game overall, but he did get a pressure on the first drive on Joe Flacco that forced an errant throw on third down.
  • I have to admit that I was not at all expecting to see Le’Veon Bell running the Wildcat offense, let alone seeing the Wildcat offense at all. I figured that if anybody would be running it, it would be Antonio Brown.
  • I like the decision to call the same play again right away, but if it were not for David DeCastro’s block on Terrell Suggs, it probably would have failed.
  • I was initially confused, yet ultimately impressed, that Mike Tomlin resolved to stick with the game plan that he set up during the week after Gilbert went down, but evidently this was not that difficult of a decision for him to make. He chose to dress eight linemen, which he rarely ever does unless that he knows he has a player ailing, which was the case here, and Whimper—or Abdullah—got the bulk of the work at right tackle in practice the last two days.
  • Roethlisberger took credit for adding the shovel pass play into the plans for the week, and he deserves credit for calling an audible to get into the play. Heath Miller started that play on the right side of the formation, and his movement forced the defense to adjust to the other side, which opened things up even more.
  • Le’Veon Bell needs to put more effort into throwing a block there, however, even though it was an easy score.
  • I was surprised to see the Steelers utilize six defensive backs with such great frequency, but Cortez Allen and Shamarko Thomas are having success against the run, so really, there is no reason not to have them on the field, even if it is at the expense of Steve McLendon and Vince Williams.
  • Allen did give up some in coverage, on the other hand. He allowed all four targets in his direction to be caught, though only for a total of 40 yards. 15 yards came after the catch, but he did not miss any tackles.
  • The running defense was, for the most part, pretty impressive, but one has to keep in mind that the Ravens have been struggling on the ground all season. McLendon may have only gotten 17 snaps, but he registered three stops, including two of them on third and one, the first one ending a promising drive at the end of the first quarter.
  • Felix Jones’ kickoff return out to the 41-yard line certainly was impressive, especially so since the last 18 yards came after contact, and the last 10 came with defenders trying to get in on a group hug.
  • It’s hard to take anything away from Derek Moye’s excellent grab, going up against Lardarius Webb. He really elevated to get that one and paid for it big time, folding like an accordion into the ground. The best part of the play, however, was that he popped right back up. Too bad he could not hold on to the touchdown pass.
  • It really is somewhat uncanny that, as sparse as sacks have been for the Steelers this year, when they do get them, they tend to come on third down, as Woodley’s did in this game—his fifth straight game with a sack. The play was designed to get him in position for the sack, but Jason Worilds was also instrumental in making it happen as well.
  • Felix Jones really looks like a player who understands where he is in his career. He plays with a sense of urgency, and thus far, other than a fumble, he has been a quality change of pace back for the Steelers.
  • Meanwhile, Jonathan Dwyer is playing with more fire and enthusiasm than I can recall, relishing in taking care of the small details and playing on special teams. He is carving out a niche for himself as a third down and short yardage back in this new look running back stable.
  • Heath Miller fumbling a pass—it happens more than it seems. Remember 2011 against the Cleveland Browns? Or 2010 against the New Orleans Saints? Not that it is a chronic problem, but the perception is that he never fumbles. In this case, Daryl Smith made a nice play. He has been great against the pass for the Ravens this year.
  • And so for the second straight week, the Steelers allowed their opponent to score a field goal in the waning seconds of the first half—and for the second week, they won. Still, it is something that they will want to clean up as the season progresses.
  • It really does not do much good to point out how well David DeCastro played as a run blocker. He was instrumental in the success of so many running plays that it is clear the Steelers are beginning to trust running the ball through him. Every Steelers outlet is covering him this week for good reason.
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