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.
– I know it’s Robber coverage but Troy Polamalu is playing awfully shallow on 3rd and 14. Ends up focusing on a five yard dig. Joe Flacco takes advantage of it, hitting Torrey Smith on the slant to move the sticks.
– Daniel McCullers and Cam Thomas with good efforts on this play. Thomas stays on his feet to work off the cut block of James Hurst while McCullers sheds, finds the ball, and the two converge on the tackle. If they don’t stay on their feet, there’s nothing but green grass at the second level on the backside “A” gap.
– Fire X blitz to create pressure. Bernard Pierce in the backfield instead of the more competent Justin Forsett. Pierce ends up doubling with the left guard, leaving Sean Spence free. Spence finishes with the sack and forced fumble. Too bad the Steelers couldn’t recover.
– Vince Williams a tick slow closing on Steve Smith on third and long during the same drive. Can’t close and make the tackle. Smith doesn’t get the first but puts the Ravens in field goal range.
– Dri Archer shoved out of bounds way too quickly ad easily on his early second half screen. Gotta fight better than that.
– Maurkice Pouncey continuing to struggle securing his blocks. Daryl Smith sheds him to make the tackle on Josh Harris. If Pouncey holds it, it’s going to go for a much bigger run. Have to take advantage of the few creases you get against the Ravens.
– Third and long for the Steelers. Nothing available at all for Ben. Forces a pass to Heath Miller but it falls incomplete.
– Steve Smith’s 40 yard grab. Brice McCain continues to shuffle and peeks in the backfield. Smith eats up his cushion and McCain is unable to make a play on the ball.
– Wrote this in my scouting report. Ravens run a boot off their split zone look. Lo-high read, looking for the fullback first. He’s open and Flacco has an easy completion for nine yards.
– Cameron Heyward getting penetration against Hurst, keeping his outside arm free in the process. Forces Forsett to slow up and look to cutback. Lawrence Timmons gobbles him up at the line.
– I know it’s zone coverage and the end zone condensing the field helps but Mike Mitchell needs to stay tight to Torrey Smith on the Ravens’ TD. Lets him behind and though Mitchell takes a peek, he loses him as Smith works to the corner of the end zone.
Look at everyone else. Tight coverage, on the same level as the receiver to maintain eyes. Polamalu – though illegally – destroys Kamar Aiken. Have to be physical in the red zone. Mitchell is passive.
– Ross Ventrone replaced Robert Golden on the front five of the kick return unit.
– Poor vision from Josh Harris. Can’t cut upfield directly into C.J. Mosley. Play needs to be bounced, following his blockers, off the outside hip of the tackle. Only goes for three.
– 4th and 1 dive to Will Johnson. Steelers just running to the “bubble,” the gap along the defensive line where there isn’t a defender. And they convert.
– Steelers wind up running two verticals against the Ravens’ Cover 2. Max protect with only the back leaking out and some pressure being put on Ben Roethlisberger (Miller was asked to pass block Terrell Suggs).
Nowhere for 7 to go with the ball. Takes a shot deep to Antonio Brown. Though the pass is thrown out of bounds. Have to give your best player the chance to compete for the ball.
– Polamalu is unable to wrap up in the alley and Forsett scampers for seven.
– Same play. Ryan Shazier gets knocked down but like his effort to regain his footing, get involved in the play, and actually makes the tackle.
– McCullers showing his strength. As you can see in the aerial view of the GIF below, he immediately knocks center Jeremy Zuttah down off the snap. Blows up the play. Harder to see but Jason Worilds did a nice job of not getting stuck to Marshal Yanda and actually make the tackle.
– McCain’s near INT. Ravens try to run a double-move but the corner doesn’t bite. He stays in his pedal and turns to run once he knows it’s vertical. Well done.
– Great picture to really get a feel for just how massive McCullers is. I know the stance is different but look how wide his base is and the tree trunks he calls legs are compared to Stephon Tuitt. I’m pretty sure his left foot is as big as me.
– Ryan Shazier/James Harrison forced fumble. Good plays from both but the technique also helps.
From the first half post, we talked about how the Steelers sliding down vs the shift made the Ravens’ blocking scheme much easier. You don’t get that shift here. Heyward is a gap over and the left tackle is forced to work through him to try and get to Shazier.
He’s late and Shazier hits the hole with a lot of power, pushing Hurst back. James Harrison also gets a tremendous push vs the TE.
Little tougher to see from the aerial view but the end zone didn’t offer it at all.
– Off the turnover, always a good bet to expect a vertical shot with the ball between the 40’s. Brown lined up in the slot. Ravens have a Tampa 2 concept.
Linebacker has no chance to stay with the receiver and the deep half safety can’t make a play on the ball in mid-air.
But also admire Brown’s ability to hang onto this pass despite colliding in mid-air with the safety.
– Martavis Bryant did a good job high-pointing the football on his TD.
– Vince Williams showing his explosion and lower body strength. Drives back 330 pound Kelechi Osemele into the backfield, blowing up this run.
– Playcall that I didn’t really get. 3rd and 13, chance for the Steelers’ defense to get off the field and put the offense on in a one-possession game. I get that it is third and long and the Ravens trot out in an empty set, but the Steelers counter with dime – the only time I saw it all game – placing B.W. Webb on the field.
Cover 1 with all the linebackers blitzing. Leaves the middle of the field open for Owen Daniels.
And honestly, can’t fault Mitchell after seeing the tape. Angle was poor because he has to run under the wide receiver on a crosser. Becomes an accidental pick, in a sense.
But to the original point. If you’re going to lose as a defense, don’t do it by putting sub-par players o the field in critical moments. Just irks me.
– Torrey Smith gets behind three defenders on his near touchdown. Only the back of the end zone bails the home team out.
– Visual evidence of Ben Tate blowing his blitz pickup on Suggs’ INT. Steelers have the bodies to block Baltimore’s three man overload but Tate fails to execute. Doubles the outside rusher, leaving the inside free.
– Game-sealing touchdown. I don’t know what to make of it. Fake the inside zone and it predictably gets the defense to bite down. It puts the linebackers in trail and they can’t recover.
– Shamarko Thomas getting great arm extension on his blocked punt. High snap didn’t help the Ravens but Thomas really had to fight to block it. Kudos.
Thanks to everyone who has followed these game recaps throughout the season. You guys make it worthwhile. We’ll be back with them in the preseason.