Pittsburgh Steelers left guard Ramon Foster missed two games earlier this season with an injury. He suddenly got healthy after the offensive line paved the way for a massive 250+ rushing yard day against the Carolina Panthers, and he has played pretty well since then over the next four games.
That wasn’t quite the case against the Baltimore Ravens last week, in which he got outgunned by their defensive front. It was quite a disappointing, but hardly a representative, performance from the elder statesman of the offensive line, and hopefully one he can bounce back from quickly.
Running back Le’Veon Bell has easily among his worst rushing performances in this game of his young career, and a lot of that could be traced right back to Foster. The worst play of the day came midway through the first quarter, when Chris Canty blew past him at the line on an inside move. It forced Bell to break a tackle four yards in the backfield, but the defense was able to swarm, and he eventually went down for a loss of eight instead.
On the first play of the Steelers’ last drive in the opening quarter, Pittsburgh started out backed up on their own three-yard line, and Bell got the call on first down. Foster hardly even chipped on the nose tackle, instead focusing on getting to Daryl Smith at the second level.
The linebacker used his quick hands to get by, however, and brought Bell down after a two-yard gain. And Smith is known for his coverage, not his run stopping ability. Bell was able to own him in previous games.
Early in the second quarter, the start of a promising drive came to a screeching half when the line allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be dropped on three straight plays. While he doesn’t deserve direct blame for the second of three sacks highlighted above because the quarterback was forced to flee the pocket into the pressure, it was just another ugly notch on top of a rough day at the office.
Even when things did manage to go right for the offense, it was often in spite of, and not due to, Foster’s efforts. Roethlisberger was able to escape pressure on third and six to find Bell for 12 yards at the end of the first half, and the Steelers scored on a 47-yard touchdown on the next play. It was Pernell McPhee’s pressure cutting inside of Foster that forced the quarterback out of the pocket.
Later in the game, midway through the third quarter, Foster was nearly singlehandedly responsible for yet another big loss in the running game. it was rookie Timmy Jernigan bull rushing Foster into the backfield and into LeGarrette Blount that allowed the Ravens to swarm and bring the back down for a seven-yard loss.