Steelers vs Ravens Wildcard Game Second Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations of the second half from the final game of the season for the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 30-17 Wildcard loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

  • The Ravens opened the second half with the ball, as Ross Ventrone made the tackle on Jacoby Jones on the opening kickoff at the 16.
  • For the second time in the game, Steve McLendon pushed center Jeremy Zuttah back into the pocket, causing Joe Flacco to get his feet tangled. This time he managed to hand the ball off, but the defense was able to swarm for a four-yard loss.
  • But on third and 14, Torrey Smith beat Antwon Blake playing off coverage and then forced him to miss the tackle to keep the drive going.
  • On third and two, Blake was penalized deep for pass interference on Smith, though it was a fair call.
  • For the one time on the night, the Steelers’ Fire X blitz worked up the middle, as Sean Spence came in second and came in clean, taking down Flacco for a loss of 13 and causing him to fumble, though the Ravens recovered.
  • Flacco was able to salvage the drive with a 14-yard connection to Jones to get the Ravens into field goal range to extend their lead to 13-9.
  • On second and eight, Josh Harris showed more of that north-south work, bursting up the middle for eight yards and a first down.
  • Ben Roethlisberger had a pristine pocket on second and seven as he launched a deep ball to Martavis Bryant. He got his feet caught up with Lardarius Webb down the field, but the officials ruled that there was no interference.
  • Roethlisberger was just wide of Heath Miller on third down.
  • On the first play of the next drive, Steve Smith came over the top of Brice McCain to make the physical grab 40 yards down the field.
  • After a few modest gains, Flacco completed the drive with an 11-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith on third and seven. He escaped pressure before finding his receiver fading to the corner past the safety. That’s a long time to have to cover somebody, however. The pressure has to get home there.
  • On fourth and one, after a failed quarterback sneak, the Steelers turned to Will Johnson on the carry, who picked up three yards with an extra lineman on the field.
  • But Roethlisberger was sacked again by Elvis Dumervil for a loss of 12 as he came off the edge unblocked with an overloaded blitz.
  • The Ravens began to drive, but McCain nearly intercepted Flacco on a deep pass. A few plays later, after a fourth down conversion, Justin Forsett ran into his own tight end, who was driven back by James Harrison, and fumbled as Ryan Shazier held his arm to prevent him from recovering. That task was completed by Stephon Tuitt.
  • Roethlisberger went to attack mode immediately, looking for Antonio Brown down the field and connecting for 44 yards, though his knee was down on the half-yard line.
  • After a false start, Roethlisberger got the touchdown on a fade to Bryant for the rookie’s ninth touchdown in 11 games.
  • The Steelers went for two to try to make it a three-point game, but the pass to Brown was intercepted.
  • On the kickoff, Shamarko Thomas was flagged for unnecessary roughness as he hit Jones going out of bounds, moving the Ravens up to the 37.
  • Flacco went back to his tight end on third and 13, who beat Mitchell over the middle for 23 yards.
  • Another nine yards and two incompletions netted the Ravens a field goal to make it an eight-point game.
  • That was after Torrey Smith just barely stepped out of bounds on a deep strike in the back of the end zone.
  • On third and four on the Steelers’ ensuing drive, Ben Tate missed picking up the rusher and tried to recover by making himself available as a receiver. Roethlisberger found him, but the pass was a bit high and hard. It bounced off his hands and nestled between the knees of Terrell Suggs for the interception.
  • On the very next play, Flacco found tight end Crockett Gilmore for the 21-yard touchdown to take a 15-point lead.
  • Right tackle Marcus Gilbert was injured on the Steelers’ first play of the next drive.
  • The Steelers began to drive, getting down to the 19-yard line on a 19-yard pass to Brown and a 16-yard scramble from Ben.
  • From the 19, Roethlisberger found Archer out of the backfield as the coverage to the left side was drawn away, but a holding call on Kelvin Beachum negated the score.
  • Roethlisberger was slammed to the ground by Courtney Upshaw for his fifth sack of the game on the next play as he exited the field for a few snaps.
  • Enter Bruce Gradkowski on third and 21 as he completed two passes to keep the drive going. On his third pass, he nearly had a touchdown to Bryant in the end zone from 14 yards out, but the safety came in late to knock the ball out.
  • Roethlisberger came back in one play later and he was picked off throwing to Brown in double coverage.
  • The Ravens just ran the ball three times to drain the clock, though Thomas blocked the ensuing punt for a safety.
  • The game ended with Miller fumbling five plays into the Steelers’ drive, recovered by the Ravens as Pittsburgh lost its first playoff game in three seasons.
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