Week Four Steelers Vs Ravens I First Half Notes And Observations

The Pittsburgh Steelers suffered their second loss of the season on Thursday night at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens, dropping a fourth-quarter lead and coming up short in overtime to the tune of a 23-20 final score. Below are my notes and observations of the first half of the game.

  • On the first play of the game, Michael Vick misfired on a short screen pass to Heath Miller, in part because Cody Wallace did not do enough to slow the rush up the middle before turning to block at the next level. Vick ended up taking a hit on the play, though it doesn’t excuse the poor pass.
  • On the second play, right tackle Marcus Gilbert bypassed Daryl Smith on an outside zone run, who ultimately made the tackle on Le’Veon Bell for a short loss.
  • Punter Jordan Berry contributed to a number of short fields for the Ravens on the night, often having 60-65-yard fields to work with on offense due to the offense’s three-and-outs and his short punts. The Ravens’ first drive started on its own 40-yard line.
  • Safety Will Allen broke in front of a Steve Smith route on first down to break up a Joe Flacco pass, one of two such opportunities for the veteran on the night.
  • On third and 10, defensive end Stephon Tuitt waited for Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah to turn his back before rushing the passer, as a result notching his third-and-a-half sack on the year and forcing a three-and-out.
  • The second drive on offense started promisingly, rattling off three successful rushes in a row for a pair of first downs, followed by an 18-yard completion to Markus Wheaton.
  • As the Steelers got to the 35, however, the defense was able to close the windows, preventing yards after contact, including on a third-down scramble from Vick, as they settled for a field goal from now former Steelers kicker Josh Scobee.
  • Scobee’s ensuing kickoff was caught with momentum near the goal line and returned out to the 25-yard line, which is the best starting field position any Steelers opponent has had this year off of a kickoff. The second-best was the 21-yard line.
  • The defense looked to force a second three-and-out to begin the game, stuffing the first two running plays, but Flacco was able to find Smith for a first down, aided by a partially missed tackle from Lawrence Timmons to gain yards after contact.
  • Following another first down, running back Justin Forsett turned a short gain into a first-down run thanks to some poor tackling. Allen had the back dead to rights, but let him slip through and off of contact for another six or seven yards.
  • On the next play, it was Bud Dupree and Antwon Blake missing him in a narrow hole as the slight back marched upfield for about 12 yards.
  • The Ravens ran at will on the defense on this drive with any back that they put in for the most part, oddly, until they put in T. Walton, who made the first run stop of the series. They scored, however, two plays later, when Arthur Moats was outmaneuvered by Michael Campanaro on an end around for the nine-yard touchdown.
  • It wasn’t until the last play of the first quarter that Antonio Brown received his first target, on which he reversed field and took a five-yard loss for his efforts. He was clearly trying to do too much.
  • On the following play, Vick was late getting the ball out of his hands on schedule on a screen to Bell. That, in combination with the line’s inability to keep the lanes clear, resulted in another short loss.
  • Brown received the ball on third and 16, gaining seven yards and a big hit for his efforts after again reversing field, through which he failed to gain any extra yards than he would have gotten anyway.
  • Berry’s second punt, from the 21-yard line, bounced out of bounds at the Ravens’ 41-yard line, a net of 40 yards.
  • The defense nearly forced another three-and-out, however, but Maxx Williams, the Ravens’ rookie tight end, was able to beat Vince Williams in coverage to stretch out for the first down to move the chains on third down.
  • The Ravens were clicking along nicely after that, until Flacco botched a snap. Two plays later, he threw an interception to Ross Cockrell, who returned it 37 yards to the 36-yard line in trap coverage on Smith.
  • The Steelers took their shot on first down, with Vick making the throw to Brown in the end zone. While it would have been an exceptional catch, the ball was where it needed to be, and Brown essentially had it in his hands, but was unable to come down with it.
  • On third down, Vick managed to take a nine-yard sack from his open side, knocking the Steelers out of field goal range and forcing them to punt after the turnover.
  • On the bright side, the defense took advantage of the Ravens being pinned down at their own nine, showing swarm tackling on all three downs, with Timmons smothering the receiver for a short gain on third and six to force a punt.
  • Unlike the Steelers, however, the Ravens got off a 51-yard punt to flip the field when they were backed up on offense.
  • Wheaton was injured on the first play of the ensuing drive inside of five minutes as he got caught up blocking on a Vick scramble for first-down yardage and did not return to the game.
  • Rookie Sammie Coates was inserted into the lineup on the next snap and targeted for an 11-yard gain.
  • Bell was the clear highlight of the night for the Steelers with his exceptional running, showing all of the traits that made him an All-Pro last year on a nine-yard run after the two aforementioned plays.
  • After driving to the 11-yard line, Bell took a power counter to the left short side of the field before reversing course, with Vick throwing a block for the touchdown. The officials missed Will Johnson tackling a would-be tackler on the play.
  • After Sean Spence came off the right side for a blindside sack on Flacco on first down, Mike Tomlin was thinking offense with under two minutes to play. The defense did its part to force a three and out, and Brown added a nine-yard punt return to the 40, with 15 tacked on due to unnecessary roughness.
  • The Steelers quickly drove inside the red zone to set up for an easy Scobee field goal. The ball was actually deflected and still went in, but the defender was offside anyway, so the block would not have stood anyway. As a result, the Steelers grabbed a 13-7 halftime lead.
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