Steelers Versus Ravens: An All-22 Primer

By Alex Kozora

Before the tape drops tomorrow, an All-22 primer of the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-27 victory against the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night.

– I want to continue to take a look at Ben Roethlisberger going through his progressions. Saw it last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Likely happened again in what ended up being another brilliant performance.

– The Steelers’ running game has stalled the last two weeks. It’s a combination of issues but I wonder if Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount are missing holes.

– Pro Football Focus graded Heath Miller poorly on the heels of what I thought was a solid performance the week before. Been watching him at the point of attack all season long with mixed results. As Mike Tomlin mentioned in his press conference, the New York Jets have two big outside linebackers. If Miller struggles sticking to Elvis Dumervil, it’ll pose a problem when he’s forced to base block Quinton Coples or Calvin Pace.

– The Steelers regularly left their tight ends to pass protect against Dumveril and Terrell Suggs. On the surface, it seemed to bring less than ideal results. But the tape will offer a closer look.

Ramon Foster seemed to have trouble anchoring in pass pro and got walked back against the run. May have been one of his worst games of the year.

– It seemed pretty clear the Ravens controlled the line of scrimmage but the end zone angle in the Coaches Film will highlight exact issues.

– How did David DeCastro look? He was one player I highlighted who could have really used a bounce back game after a rough stretch the last two weeks.

– What caused the three sacks? Obviously, look for it in my sack breakdown. Tomlin hinted to a missed hot route that led to one of them.

– In his first game three weeks ago, I occasionally noticed a hitch in Martavis Bryant’s release. Now that he’s logged snaps and gotten the chance to clean up mistakes, I want to see if that has been eliminated.

– What kind of route tree is Lance Moore being asked to run? Only had 14 snaps Sunday but still something to go off of. I’m sure all but one or two of those were passes. I’m assuming a lot of underneath routes and settling in zone but confirming it will be nice.

– The Steelers defended zone runs as well as they have all year long. What changed? How did Stephon Tuitt look against the run? Was there improvement there? Ditto with Cam Thomas who went back to playing the majority of snaps.

Steve McLendon is another player to circle and likely another reason for the Steelers’ success. Getting “A” gap penetration to these runs is a fantastic way to stymie run games. Force the back to run wider and run out of space.

– In general, the front seven again got the opportunity to be aggressive. A ton of twisting and slanting. Steelers took advantage of a Ravens’ unit that’s poor in their protection calls. Lot of terrific matchups, DTs on RBs, LBs rushing free, the Steelers consistently had. We’ll point out multiple examples throughout the week.

William Gay continues to be an unsung hero, helping to keep Steve Smith in check. Not an easy task for 60 minutes.

– I’ve never been his biggest fan as an actual cornerback but Antwon Blake appeared to play a heck of a game Sunday. Can’t wait to watch him. His click and close on the ball is fantastic. Technically, he seemed to be sound, too.

Will Allen got a full half of snaps. And with Troy Polamalu ruled out Sunday, the first time in about two years he’s missed, Allen will be counted on. Let’s see how Tomlin’s favorite player looked.

– On special teams, we’ll want to look at Jacoby Jones’ 108 yard kick return. Seems pretty easy enough to figure out though. Blake, Gay, and Darrius Heyward-Bey couldn’t shed blocks.

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