Game notes for the final time of the 2014 season. The Pittsburgh Steelers 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wildcard round of the playoffs.
– Kick return unit. Front five: Arthur Moats, Vince Williams, Robert Golden, Terence Garvin, Shamako Thomas. Stephon Tuitt replacing the inactive Michael Palmer, playing alongside Matt Spaeth. Cody Wallace and Will Johnson formed the two man wedge. Josh Harris served as the upback to Markus Wheaton.
– Though it was a touchback, Williams blasted one of the Ravens’ linebackers, driving him into the ground. He shared the video on Instagram. But you can see it below if you look closely.
– Smoke screen to Ben Tate was a two way option with Will Johnson mirroring the route on the other side.
– Third and two. Wheaton doing a nice job of getting his head around as soon as he crosses the linebackers. Picks up the first down.
– Key seal from Ramon Foster against the DT – who slid down a gap right before the snap – on this inside zone. Tate bens the run back. Tate finishes the run by lowering the shoulder and picking up a couple more yards.
Run is similar to the Bernard Pierce TD.
– True double-team of Haloti Ngata by David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert. Trap block by Foster leads the way. Tate runs for eight yards before fumbling.
– Know this is subtle and by this point in the year, not that big of a deal. But I still like to see it. Scramble drill. Martavis Bryant originally runs a vertical route, Markus Wheaton running an out. As the play breaks down, Bryant comes back to his quarter, showing his numbers. Wheaton works from short to long. The pass falls incomplete but a quick, heady play from the youngsters.
– Steelers throw a one-step slant to Antonio Brown on 3rd and 10, who picks up the first down. Just shows the level of trust in his ability to get YAC to throw that concept.
– DeCastro falling off his block. DT Brandon Williams sheds and makes the tackle. Williams is going to be talked about in media circles this time next year.
– Maurkice Pouncey fails to pick up Pernell McPhee looping inside on 3rd and 10. Lucky Ben Roethlisberger gets the ball out of his hand quick on third and long.
Punt coverage unit. Antwon Blake and Ross Ventrone the gunners. On the line: Will Allen, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, Greg Warren, Will Johnson, Sean Spence, Matt Spaeth, Robert Golden, Brad Wing.
– Steve McLendon won with a quick first step but it’s also a matter of leverage. Of the first play he blew up, watch him get under center Jeremy Zuttah’s pads and knock him back.
Finished the play with Johnny Manziel’s “money” sign. Do with that what you will.
– James Harrison walking UDFA left tackle James Hurst into the pocket. A size/strength advantage for Deebo.
– Punt return grouping. Darrius Heyward-Bey and Brice McCain the jammers. Antwon Blake, Vince Williams, Sean Spence, Robert Golden, Shamarko Thomas, Terence Garvin, Ross Ventrone, and Ryan Shazier made up the rest on the Ravens’ first punt.
– Odd play from Marcus Gilbert. Not sure if it’s just him physically not sliding down enough or screwing up his assignment. Maybe he thought the protection was different or perhaps that it even was a run.
Either way, he whiffs on blocking Chris Canty, leaving the defensive lineman against Josh Harris. Not where you want to be as an offense.
– Another disruptive play by Canty. Think he gets tipped off DeCastro is pulling because he gets a great jump off the snap. Despite Pouncey having the angle, he can’t stick to the block. Canty flows across the line and fills the running lane, giving Harris nowhere to go.
Trying to figure out what the “tell” is. Not entirely sure. Might be a leg twitch with DeCastro but I’m not positive yet.
– Not a huge factor with the Ravens rolling to a single high look but Roethlisberger showed good eye manipulation on his back shoulder throw to Martavis Bryant. Held the single high safety before firing the throw. 22 yard completion.
– Dri Archer’s lone carry. Attempts to immediately bounce this run on an inside zone. Terrell Suggs makes quick work of him. Has to learn to follow blocks. With the way Heath Miller is setting his hips, sealing Suggs, Archer can’t bounce it off his outside hip. No chance for success.
– Kick coverage. L-R. Shamarko Thomas-Robert Golden-Terence Garvin-Ross Ventrone-Vince Williams-Shaun Suisham-Sean Spence-Antwon Blake-Jarvis Jones-Darrius Heyward-Bey-Will Allen
– Mike Mitchell’s personal foul. Jacoby Jones with an outside stem that gets Brice McCain to flip his hips and create some separation. McCain did a nice job to work back to the inside hip and high point the ball away.
– Ravens do a tremendous job of exploiting the windows in the Steelers’ zones. Bootleg with Owen Daniels and Crockett Gilmore running crossers, the latter running shallower. He occupies Sean Spence, the only defender in the vicinity, leaving Daniels open over the middle. Easy completion for a gain of 18.
– Ravens’ first successful run. Nine yard gain by Justin Forsett. Spence stops moving his feet as soon as he’s engaged by Daniels. Doesn’t get his outside arm free to work off the block and is swallowed up by the tight end. Poor job of helping to keep the run inside and to your help.
– Credit where credit is due. Cam Thomas flows down backside, rips through Marshal Yanda, and helps make the tackle.
– Ravens second positive run. The RDE and ROLB spike down in an effort to penetrate backside. But the Ravens actually wind up running to the weak side. Those slants take the defenders out of position.
Like Spence, Vince Williams is unable to disengage Kelechi Osemele. He’s one of those guys you can’t let lock on. A powerful blocker at 330, need to see some better hand fighting to stay clean.
Forsett has room until Lawrence Timmons comes from across the formation to lay him out.
– As I broke down the other day, the Steelers had nickel personnel against a two tight end set on Bernard Pierce’s 5 yard TD. Obvious mismatch and it cost them seven points.
– Ensuing kick return. Arthur Moats completely misses his block, allowing the defender to meet Markus Wheaton way back in the Steelers’ own territory.
– Roethlisberger probably needs to speed this play fake up, especially when half rolling on the actual playfake. Ball is a little late. Brown is already coming out of his break. The corner bravely stays in his pedal the entire time but is given more time to make a play on the ball.
– After debating whether to use a challenge, the Steelers are late in getting in the playcall. The broadcast cuts to Todd Haley attempting to repeat the playcall with 14 seconds left on the playclock. Unfortunately, the quarterback’s headset is turned off at 15 seconds. Why Ben threw his hands up.
– Suggs took a chance spiking down like this but it paid off. Blows up this Power O. Drives DeCastro into the backfield, bumping into Miller pulling. Slows the whole play down. Had Suggs not penetrated, there seemed to be a fair bit of running room for Josh Harris.
Harris also may have made his decision to cut a little too early. Miller was never able to secure his block on CJ Mosley because Harris cut it back, allowing Mosley to attack.
– Roethlisberger’s front leg locks up on the play where he hung the potential TD pass to AB in the end zone. Doesn’t drive the ball well and it costs them six.
– Kudos to Kelvin Beachum for quickly reaching the flat on this screen. Rewarded with a pancake of defensive back Anthony Levine.
– Like to see the catch radius, extended his hands away from his body, and willingness to go across the middle by Bryant on that drive. Rookie rounding out his game.
– Heyward-Bey continues to make an impact on special teams. R4 and correctly pinches/contains Jones to keep him inside. Then fights through a blocker and makes the tackle.
– Another Cover 3 beater the Ravens ran well. Weakside #1 runs vertical to carry the corner. #1 strong side runs a deep crosser with underneath options by the TE/RB to hold the linebackers. Opens up Smith on the deep crosser for a large gain. Difficult to defend out of C3.
– Cameron Heyward swims over Hurst to get pressure on Flacco on the play. Just wasn’t in time.
– The look Timmons gave Jason Worilds after Worilds’ slap that earned him a 15 year unsportmanlike. Sheer disappointment.
– Some of the issues that created big runs for the Ravens. Multiple different factors but some of it was pre-snap alignment. “Under” shift the DL, away from the strong side of the line.
Baltimore runs an inside zone. Blocks become easier because of the shift. The right tackle is uncovered and doesn’t have to work through a defensive end, the right guard doesn’t have to reach block the end (Tuitt nearly head up) and the center doesn’t have to work through a nose tackle shaded to his side, giving him free access to stick to Ryan Shazier at the second level.
– An ugly play from William Gay, something that’s rare out of him. Flips his hips with the ball in the air like he misjudged the path of the ball on an end zone throw late in the half. Steve Smith gets separation and may have had a touchdown had the pass not been off the mark.