Steelers vs Ravens First Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations upon reviewing the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 26-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Fullback Will Johnson played one snap—the first snap—for the entire game. He has three snaps for the season now.
  • The going was tough for Le’Veon Bell early in the game. Most of his early gains were the result of a cutback of his own making.
  • Good block by Justin Brown on a screen to Markus Wheaton on third and two.
  • Brown was replaced by Darrius Heyward-Bey on the next play to serve as the blocking receiver, blocking downfield for an end around from Antonio Brown.
  • The Steelers are not afraid of playing Justin Brown and DHB. A few snaps later, they took Wheaton off the field and put both on the same side of the formation on a pass to Antonio Brown from out of the backfield.
  • The Ravens have improved their defensive line with Brandon Thomas at nose tackle.
  • After having a third and nine conversion called back for an ineligible man downfield, Brown came through to convert on third and 14.
  • Only to have Justin Brown fumble the ball two plays later. Who knows how things might have gone differently if that never happened. Maybe not much at all, but still.
  • Missed tackles no longer accurately account for this defense’s performance. There are too many plays on which defenders simply don’t even get to plays by taking poor angles.
  • Cornerback Cortez Allen added to his collection of missed tackles on the first defensive snap of the game working against Steve Smith.
  • In the process of trying to make the tackle, he also grabbed Smith’s facemask for a 15-yard penalty. The Ravens gained 38 yards via penalty on the drive.
  • Ravens left tackle Eugene Monroe kind of had his way with Cameron Heyward for much of the game.
  • Even with the Steelers making a stop on third and one, Cam Thomas was still blown off the ball.
  • And it happened again on the fourth and one quarterback sneak.
  • Pass interference on Allen gave the Ravens first and goal. I think it’s obvious that Allen needs to play better for the defense overall to play better.
  • Nice backside pursuit on first and goal by Jarvis Jones on the rush.
  • The Steelers were in their base defense on first and goal. On second and goal, they put four linemen and six linebackers on the field.
  • Nobody followed Owen Daniels out of the backfield. Not a good look for Terence Garvin’s first snap. 7-0.
  • Bad stretch of plays for Heyward-Bey to begin the second drive. On first down, he failed to block Jimmy Smith, who made the tackle on Wheaton on a screen after one yard. On second down, he was called for a hold on an end around by Wheaton that went for 21 yards.
  • On third and a long one, Ben Roethlisberger threw well behind a wide open Justin Brown to force the Steelers to punt.
  • 47 yards and a fair catch forced by Shamarko Thomas and Antwon Blake. I’ll take it.
  • More missed tackles forced by Smith. He’s clearly got more juice left than many gave him credit for.
  • And another missed tackle for Allen. Steve McLendon had to make the tackle 13 yards down the field.
  • Rookie Ryan Shazier’s work against the run was improved, but he still struggled when it came to understanding, which hurt him in coverage.
  • Back to back plays by Bell, first a 21-yard run up the middle, including a spin move and a cut out to the right sideline. On the next play, he took a shovel pass from Roethlisberger 19 yards. So 40 of his 107 total yards came on two consecutive plays.
  • Roethlisberger once again off-target throwing to Justin Brown. The Steelers ran an ill-advised end around to Antonio Brown on third and four on the next play inside the 10. Needless to say, it didn’t get a first down.
  • Nice open field tackle by Troy Polamalu to begin the Ravens’ next drive for a loss.
  • And McLendon tackled the back behind the line of scrimmage on second down. The run defense was significantly better with him on the field.
  • Two nice back-to-back plays by Wheaton, first doing a good job of finding the sideline for extra yardage, then coming through with a tough grab on the following play.
  • Antonio Brown is becoming one of the best receivers in the league at shaking off the first tackle after the catch.
  • Unfortunately, Marcus Gilbert was beaten by Elvis Dumervil for a sack, ending what was largely a promising drive, even if Wheaton nearly got the first down on the next play himself. Roethlisberger once again threw well incomplete on third down.
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