My game notes from the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
– Kick return unit. Ross Ventrone, Sean Spence, Vince Williams, Terence Garvin, and Shamarko Thomas the front five. Robert Golden right behind. Will Johnson, Roosevelt Nix, and L.T. Walton, filling in for Matt Spaeth, the next three with Jordan Todman and Dri Archer.
– Punt unit: Ventrone and Thomas the gunners. Will Allen and Nix, taking Spaeth’s spot, as the wings. Golden the upback. On the line: Williams, Garvin, Greg Warren, Johnson, and Spence.
– Good leverage by Steve McLendon to get under the center and walk him back into the pocket.
– Delay blitz by Stephon Tuitt on his sack. Offensive line forgets about him and he rushes in free for the sack.
– Punt coverage: Ventrone/Thomas jammers to one side, Antwon Blake/Darrius Heyward-Bey to the other. On the line: Golden, Spence, Williams, Dupree, Garvin.
– Love the change of direction and vision from Le’Veon Bell. Jumps outside as the defender works off Ramon Foster and as Courtney Upshaw bites inside. Then finishes with a physical blow over the cornerback. Shows Bell’s all-around skillset.
– DeAngelo Williams can do that, too. Plants his foot in the ground as C.J. Mosley tries to fill the outside. Cuts inside and skirts upfield for an eight yard gain.
– Heath Miller still showing some gas left in the tank, pancaking Daryl Smith.
– Miller also replaced Spaeth as the right wing on field goals.
– Kick coverage from left to right: Thomas-Golden-Ventrone-Garvin-Williams-Josh Scobee-Spence-Jarvis Jones-Nix-Todman-Brandon Boykin.
– Dreadful tackle attempt by Antwon Blake. Needs to get square, get his helmet to the ballcarrier, downhill to the target. Instead, he shuffles and sticks out an arm, missing the tackle.
– Stephon Tuitt shifted over and head up on the center. Makes it an easy angle for the right guard to block him and create an alley for a nice run.
– Spence has to work off the block of this receiver to make the tackle on the ballcarrier. Doesn’t and it sets up third and two for the Ravens, who score on that play.
– Screen to Antonio Brown but scheme asks Kelvin Beachum to fire off the ball to the right to help sell run. But doesn’t let him get out into the flat in time to make a block on the DB. AB tries to reverse course and loses several yards.
– David DeCastro misses his block and the Ravens had eight in the box against this middle screen. Bell goes nowhere.
– Allen beat inside on this punt. Bet Jordan Berry had a rough day because of all the pressure looks the Ravens’ punting unit likes to give. Lot of eight man rushes.
– Tuitt doing a tremendous job two-gapping against Marshal Yanda, one of the best guards in the league. Stacks, sheds, and makes the tackle.
– Dropped touchdown by Brown was a beautiful throw by Mike Vick. Truly threw him open. Too bad it was dropped and the Steelers couldn’t capitalize on the Ross Cockrell INT.
– Cam Heyward doing similar to Tuitt, flowing down the line and making the solo tackle on Justin Forsett.
– Sammie Coates had just the one catch but one minor point I noticed on it. Needs to get upfield quicker to maximize YAC. Not turn and stop, reading defenders. Don’t put your feet in cement as a receiver.
– Ramon Foster did a heck of a job on Brandon Williams. About as well as you can base block one of the best nose tackles in the league.
– Heath Miller immediately ran over to Michael Vick after the QB threw the last block on Bell’s touchdown. Recognized the gutsy play Vick made.
– Now the less than stellar Vick. Leaves the pocket without reading the field and missing an open AB down the left sideline. Not a huge window but Vick has the arm to make the throw. Instead, he scrambles for a four yard gain.
– But now good Vick. Ride the roller coaster! His best throw of the day. Timing route from the far hash, releasing the ball as Brown is breaking on his out cut. Ball is right there tight to the sideline, where AB makes the catch.
– Offensive line showing same respect to Vick, on the roster for six weeks, as they do Ben Roethlisberger. Beachum rushes over to help up Vick after he gets bumped down.
– Cockrell did an incredible job of keeping his feet inbounds. No idea how he did it.
– Steelers with three blockers for four defenders. Mosley is free and no one works to Daryl Smith, leading two really good inside linebackers to converge on Williams in the backfield.
– Great combo block by Marcus Gilbert. Chips down and then seals Mosley, opening a lane for Bell.
– Bell sacrificing his body in pass protection, cutting and nearly flipping Will Hill on this safety blitz.
– Foster got punched in the helmet by Hill later on that drive. No call, though Foster obviously was looking for it.
– Blake is really struggling with his balance transitioning out of his pedal. Maybe he needs longer cleats or better distribution of his weight. But always slipping. Causes him to be late to the ball and misses the tackle.
– Cam Thomas…not nearly as effective as Heyward or Tuitt. Can’t fill the gap. Allows a 12 yard gain to Buck Allen.
– James Harrison doing James Harrison like things. Stack and create space between himself and left tackle James Hurst then sheds him and makes the tackle.
– Kamar Aiken touchdown. Ross Cockrell is rolled up but no press/contact against a vertical stem? Bad combo.
– Nice special teams tackle by Ross Ventrone. Comes across the field to chase it down.
– Tuitt wasn’t perfect but had some plus plays against the run. Stays on his feet against this cut block, squeezes the gap, and makes the tackle.
– Nick Boyle probably scores on the Ravens’ fake field goal if Spence doesn’t make the tackle. Has two blockers in front and a whole lot of green.
– Great team spacing and flow against this inside zone. Nowhere for Forsett to run and Deebo cleans it up from the backside.
– Some bad for Tuitt on this run defense. Has to stay square to the line, not turn your back.
– Big lane for Forsett on this run. Not positive who is at fault here. Sean Spence took on the block with his inside shoulder which doesn’t seem right. Maybe it’s on him. But again, being in nickel makes it easy for lineman to get to the second level.
– Back to the good Tuitt. While being blocked, he sticks out a paw and holds up the back.
– Best catch DHB may have made in his entire career. Climbs the ladder and goes up to make the grab.
– Georgia counter. What a lane created by David DeCastro, Will Johnson, and Heath Miller.
– Next play, a first and ten, was a Vick botched snap from under center. Put the Steelers in second and ten, and an underrated negative play in the game. Eventually the team was faced with a 3rd and 4. If they get positive yards on first down, maybe they convert and kill more clock, sealing the game.
– Watch Miller show his nastiness on this play. Finishes the block on DL Lawrence Guy, putting him into the ground.
– Mike Mitchell accidentally bumps into Lawrence Timmons on this blitz, knocking the linebacker down. He’s unable to drop into coverage and opens up a window for Darren Waller to make the catch and turn it into a 17 yard gain.
– Dri Archer’s 31 yard kick return to begin overtime was the longest play of his career. But a nice return from him.
– Surprised Bell bouned this one another gap over instead of hitting it downhill.
– Third and two slant. Rhythmic throw but Vick and AB aren’t on the same page. Incomplete. Why you can’t ask Vick to make the throw on the second 4th and 1 attempt, throwing to the right while on the left hash. Especially when according to Ben Roethlisberger, Vick had never practiced it. Ugh.
– Not only to the Steelers decide to run a QB sweep to the right, they run it to the open side away from Will Johnson and Roosevelt Nix, the two best blockers out there. No receivers on the field is a major run alert. Everything about this play is miserable.
– Dupree’s first step whips Ricky Wagner off the edge.
– Justin Forsett’s 12 yard run on 2nd and 13 on the Ravens’ game-winning drive was another underrated negative play. Steelers got in the backfield for a three yard loss on the first play. Gave it all away the next.