What’s the opposite of holiday cheer? Oh yeah, this freakin’ game. Your winners and losers.
DeAngelo Williams: The best part about today’s offense. Williams got things started early with 80 yards in the first quarter. He produced the only touchdowns on the day for Pittsburgh, running in from 1 and 2 yards out. Just love watching him play. His lateral agility, vision, ability to hit the hole. He certainly doesn’t play to his age.
Stephon Tuitt: Like Williams, Tuitt was arguably the best part about today’s defense. Tuitt played like a grown man, led by his 3rd down stop to give the ball back to the offense one final time. Tuitt moved down the line against zone runs much better than he did a week ago against the Denver Broncos. Tuitt finished the day with six tackles and one QB hit.
David DeCastro/Marcus Gilbert: Especially early. The right side of the line dominated an underrated duo of Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams. I don’t recall either giving up much pressure in the passing game, either. Two strong games from two players who have been huge reasons for this team’s success this year.
Brandon Boykin: Thought Boykin had a nice game. Breakup on the goal line when covering Maxx Williams and he worked over a running back for a sack of Ryan Mallet. Boykin got the start in nickel and hopefully continues that role for the rest of the year.
Ben Roethlisberger: Win with Ben, lose with Ben. Often the way it goes. He was horrendous today, his worst game of the season. Two interceptions versus a Ravens’ team that came into day with only four on the season, and none since the second quarter in Week Ten. This performance will get plenty of comparisons to last year’s upset loss to the New York Jets. Hard to find many positive play’s from Roethlisberger’s game today, who has struggled on the road pretty mightily. Mike Tomlin mentioned turnovers is a large reason why the team lost and that points directly back at Ben.
Martavis Bryant: Bryant can be a great receiver in this league. But he is far from it. Not until he can make some of the difficult plays that separate the good from the great. He had two drops in the loss. The most costly came on 3rd and 15 on the final drive, getting open but being unable to make a diving catch that would have put the Steelers deep into Raven’s territory. There was even a screen pass where Bryant foolishly cut to the field instead of staying down the sideline to pick up as many yards as he could.
We’ve seen some spectacular plays from him. But just as many negative ones. There is a lot of room for growth.
OLB Pass Rush: Non-existent. Again. This is a Ravens’ offensive line that has moved or replaced 3/5 of their line during the year. And the OLBs can’t do anything. It’s a complicated problem to solve moving forward considering all four key cogs will be back next year, assuming James Harrison returns. And you’d hate to reinvest in the position…again, with so many other issues to be addressed. But it needs to be solved. Steelers can’t rush four as often as they do and get nothing from their edge guys.
Third Down Defense: Like Denver last week, the Ravens jumped out to a fast 5/6 start on third down. The only difference is that the Ravens didn’t wilt like the Broncos did. Baltimore finished the day 9/18 on third down. Compare that to the Steelers ugly 2/8 mark.
Will Allen: There were so many of them but one of the most frustrating plays of the afternoon was Allens’ choice to try and rip the ball away from Chris Givens instead of wrapping up and bringing him down. He missed and Givens took off down the sideline for a big play. Luckily, the receiver was called down and negated the play but it doesn’t absolve the decision. It wasn’t Allen’s only missed tackle, either. He brings some intangible value to this defense and has made some positive plays, but there have been too many ugly ones like this as a tackler. And that really should be his calling card at this stage in his career. He functions like a linebacker, in skillset and usage. If he’s a questionable cover guy and a questionable tackler, his purpose and role has to be reexamined.