By Alex Kozora
My observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-6 defeat versus the Baltimore Ravens Thursday night.
– Kick return unit: The frontline from left to right by the return team’s perspective. Shamarko Thomas, Sean Spence, Arthur Moats, Antwon Blake, and Terence Garvin. The following pairing of Michael Palmer and Matt Spaeth with Stephon Tuitt and Cody Wallace serving as the wedge. LeGarrette Blount was the upback for Markus Wheaton.
– Steelers’ first run of the evening. Split zone with Will Johnson – on his only snap of the game – tries to kick out Terrell Suggs.
– Ben Roethlisberger’s first throw of the game, an incompletion on a nine route in Antonio Brown’s direction. Good idea to make that throw though. Single high with the safety buzzing to the flat. Creates an island matchup for Brown. That’s always in the offense’s favor. Just couldn’t convert.
– Impact of a tight end in pass protection. They don’t have to block. They don’t have to even chip. Their presence alone forces the EMOL to widen his technique and require a move severe angle to work to the quarterback. Compare Suggs to Elvis Dumervil and the effect Heath Miller has.
– Window dress screen to Le’Veon Bell with a jet sweep to Antonio Brown. Nice idea in theory but really only effective if the Ravens are in man coverage. Ravens are in zone so the corner doesn’t follow. Plays the flat where Bell ends up and quickly makes the tackle.
– Great seal by Matt Spaeth on Haloti Ngata. Gave the edge for Bell. Only three snaps for Spaeth on the night. Disappointing.
– Difficult block to execute on a consistent basis but Heath Miller with a missed cut block. Bell is unable t bounce it back and has to dive up the middle for a short gain.
– Attempted double-team on nose tackle Brandon Williams should have worked but fails. Williams ends up getting penetration. Looks to be Maurkice Pouncey’s fault. Gets himself overextended on his punch and Williams splits the left guard and center.
– Completion to Heath Miller negated by a David DeCastro ineligible man downfield penalty. Appeared to be a screen for Le’Veon Bell but he cuts the linebacker. When Roethlisberger glances his way, Bell is laying on the ground. Credit to him for making a throw on the run and completing to Miller even if it was all for naught.
– Safety Darrian Stewart reads the ball well on his near-knockout blow. Not getting width on his pedal and he breaks on the throw almost immediately. Antonio Brown somehow holds on. Continues to amaze me.
– Ravens’ first snap fof the game. Cortez Allen’s face mask. Allen stumbles clicking out of his pedal and takes a poor angle to the ball. Steve Smith doesn’t need much space to create big play.
– This is the proper run fill to defend against a zone run. Each gap taken away. Nowhere for Bernard Pierce to go.
– Jason Worilds getting way too cute with his pass rushing moves against tight end Dennis Pitta. No need for it. Spins twice, including once into the chip from the back. Just use strong hands and rush around the edge.
– Credit to Cam Thomas for closing this hole in a hurry to prevent a potential big run. Power scheme, FB Lead. Lane there initially but Thomas holds the POA and makes the tackle.
– Joe Flacco sneak. Simple decision where to sneak this one. Go where the defense isn’t. Locate the “bubble,” the gap without a defensive lineman. Dive to that side. That’s what Flacco does and the Ravens convert.
Also of note is Lawrence Timmons was still calling signals when the ball was snapped.
– Like the run defense against Power O, especially by Timmons and Steve McLendon. McLendon works off the block, finds the runner, and helps the stuff. Timmons dips under the block of Kelechi Osemele, locates the runner, and goes low to contribute on the stop. Well done by both of them.
– For the warts Shazier has shown so far, we get to appreciate his speed and explosive first step. Asked to fill the playside “A” Gap before the runner can press it. Fills it well before that point.
– By the time Terence Garvin realizes this is a pass, he has no chance. Touchdown Ravens.
– Owen Daniels celebratory spike bounces into the face of a photographer on the sideline. Poor guy.
– Wide split between the RG and RT indicates where the run is headed. Sure enough, that’s where LeGarrette Blount ducks through.
– Ben Roethlisberger’s third down incompletion to Justin Brown is solely #7’s fault. Brown isn’t going to stop or slow up on the route. Middle of the field is wide open and he needs to make sure he crosses the face of the underneath linebacker.
Ben’s footwork is also an issue here. Lower body has to be in sync with the arm to be effective. Check out the placement of Roethlisberger’s upfield (front) foot. The ball goes where that foot is pointed to. It’s clearly behind Justin Brown and thus, a pass that is behind.
– Punt coverage unit: Antwon Blake and Shamarko Thomas your gunners. The line from left to right. Michael Palmer, Arthur Moats, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Will Allen. Robert Golden the upback and Brad Wing punting away.
– Lawrence Timmons does a very weird thing I can’t figure out. Zone run. Timmons starts to flow down the line. Perfectly normal.
But suddenly, he turns to his backside blocker and initiates contact.
Consequently late with his run fill and has to make a shoestring tackle on the back, who picks up eight. I can’t wrap my head around this one.
– Flacco throws out of this run call and completes it to Steve Smith. Easy decision. No defender in the area. Multiple missed tackles later and it’s a gain of 23.
– Thought Cortez Allen’s tackling – on the whole – has been better than what people have accused him of this season but it is ugly here. “Scared” may be the better word. Steve Smith works to crack Troy Polamalu, leaving Allen as the replacement run fill. Once it’s determined Pierce isn’t going to hit the edge, Allen needs to attack and fill. He’s hesitant and ineffectively dives at the last second, missing.
– Rough game for Marcus Gilbert but quality cut block downfield to spring Heath Miller on this screen. Goes for 10.
– Simle concept here. Flat route to hold the defender and widen the defense, opening up the curl for 83. Big gain.
– Le’Veon Bell’s 21 yard aided by Roethlisberger’s “block.” One of those runs that we’ll probably forget about by season’s end until you see it in a highlight reel and appreciate how good it was. Continues to flash and showing a huge leap from his rookie year.
– I’m all for Todd Haley getting creative with Antonio Brown but running a jet sweep to the boundary on third down in the red zone is too much. At the least, run it to the wide side of the field and give your receiver some more space.
Execution was suspect, too. Either the snap was late or Brown motioned too early. Had to slow up at the mesh point to receive the ball.
– Kick coverage from left to right: Cortez Allen, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Terence Garvin, Shaun Suisham, Ryan Shazier, Sean Spence, Will Johnson, Antwon Blake, Darrius Heyward-Bey, William Gay. The first kick was a stacked 4×6 look.
– Invert Mitchell and Taylor on this coverage. Cover 2 Man, trail technique by Mitchell. Play to the inside hip. Pass for Torrey Smith falls incomplete.
– Punt return unit. Jammers: Antwon Blake solo on one side, Shamarko Thomas/B.W. Webb on the other. Others: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Arthur Moats, Ryan Shazier, Terence Garvin, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Robert Golden. Antonio Brown the return man.
– Missed trap block by Ramon Foster late in the first half. Defender records the tackle.