Steelers vs Ravens II First Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations of the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-23 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

  • On the first play of the game, Cameron Heyward smashed through a double team to make a tackle for loss.
  • A pair of receptions to tight end Owen Daniels, fresh off a minor cleanup on his knee, over a couple of linebackers gave the Ravens a first down.
  • Later in the drive, Cam Thomas got buried on the left side to allow a six-yard run, but the second-level defense was there to minimize the damage.
  • The defense held, but Ravens punter Sam Koch pinned the Steelers deep in their own end. This proved to be an early theme in the game.
  • The Steelers opened in a three receiver set, meaning Martavis Bryant technically got the start en route to playing a career-high 37 snaps, and the first time he played at least half of the team’s offensive snaps.
  • The first ball of the day did go to Bryant, who was schemed open with a pair of nice route concepts, but Ben Roethlisberger’s delivery was high and the receiver could not handle it.
  • From three receivers to three tight ends, all the wideouts vacated the field, replaced by Darrius Heyward-Bey. Le’Veon Bell was stopped after a three-yard gain.
  • The punt from Brad Wing had distance, but the coverage was 15 yards away, and Jacoby Jones returned it about 25 yards to the Steelers’ 35-yard line.
  • With Mike Mitchell blitzing and Troy Polamalu trying to rotate over to Torrey Smith from the opposite side of the field, Joe Flacco took advantage of the one-on-one coverage with Brice McCain, as the pair hooked up for a 35-yard touchdown. Replay doesn’t reveal anything overtly illegal in Smith getting by McCain as he swam his arm over top to jockey for position.
  • The Steelers opened again in a three tight end set, but Roethlisberger looked to pass. He was forced to scramble and eventually threw low to Antonio Brown.
  • Roethlisberger threw high and behind Brown on third down to force the Steelers into a second straight three and out.
  • Thomas got caught up in a trap block from Marshal Yanda that got Lorenzo Taliaferro eight yards on second and 10, but Joe Cool lost his cool when the pressure got there too quickly on a screen pass, resulting in a poor throw and a punt.
  • On second own, Ramon Foster was beaten inside by Chris Canty. While Bell escaped that tackle, he was swarmed for a loss of eight.
  • After a first down on a fullback screen pass, Stephon Tuitt got unblocked pressure to force an incomplete pass, and then James Harrison dipped underneath Eugene Monroe for the sack to force a punt. Tuitt was there, rushing from a standing position, as well.
  • But the Steelers were pinned back on their own three, and it took Brown to finally spark some offense, getting open on second and eight for the team’s first first down of the game.
  • After another pair of first downs courtesy of LeGarrette Blount, a holding call killed Pittsburgh’s first decent looking drive of the day. The Ravens responded with three straight sacks.
  • The first one came on a safety blitz with nobody to block him. On second down, Matt Spaeth got beat, forcing Roethlisberger to step up into the pocket and another sack, this time from Haloti Ngata. Finally, on third and 33, it was Elvis Dumervil turning the corner on Marcus Gilbert.
  • The Steelers finally got the spark they needed when Arthur Moats stripped the ball out of the Ravens’ rookie back’s hands, recovered and returned by McCain to the 27, who palmed the ball on the turf with one hand and was at a full sprint in no time.
  • After a trifecta of Ravens penalties on a single play, the Steelers quickly found themselves on the 10-yard line. After a pair of carries up the middle by Blount, it was Bell, coming out from slot left, hauling in his second touchdown reception of the season over rookie C.J. Mosley.
  • After the touchdown, the Steelers, for some reason, attempted a squib kick, which was fielded without issue at the 20 and returned to the 37.
  • But the Ravens’ next drive only lasted two plays, as Flacco was harassed into an incompletion, and then an interception by Jason Worilds on what was supposed to be a throw away.
  • On first and 10 from the 19.5-yard line—just inside the red zone—Roethlisberger and Bryant connected for the latter’s fourth touchdown in three games on a good route pairing, but worse defensive recognition.
  • Bryant’s post-touchdown football spin continues to be in mid-season form.
  • The Steelers twice won the line of scrimmage on second and third and one on the Ravens’ next drive, but a quarterback sneak on fourth down proved to be the difference.
  • After the conversion, Sean Spence slipped in coverage against Justin Forsett for a big gain to the 30 that ultimately set up a field goal.
  • But not before Flacco and Smith almost hooked up again in the end zone. Antwon Blake had reasonable coverage, but a play still could have been made.
  • The Steelers had little trouble responding with less than two minutes to go in the half, although it took a lovely floater under duress to Bell on third and six to keep the thing alive.
  • On the next play, Markus Wheaton got by Lardarius Webb for the 47-yard score.
  • Wing failed to get the hold down on the ensuing extra point try, so instead he just got up and threw to Matt Spaeth for two points.
  • Though they left nearly a minute on the clock, as sack by Moats essentially ended the Ravens’ chances of responding before halftime.
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