Mike Tomlin said it best following the Steelers 23-20 win on Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens. Not dead yet! That is pretty much the long and short of it following an afternoon of some good and bad Steelers football. The Steelers defense, who had been responsible for several 4th quarter collapses this season, did not surrender any 4th quarter points to the Ravens today. The defense forced some turnovers and was aided by several Ravens miscues and penalties. The Ravens committed 11 penalties for 113 yards on the day. One resulted in a negating a Willis McGahee touchdown and following a few more penalties, pushed the Ravens out of field goal range.
Offensively for the Steelers, it was a day of missed opportunities. They moved the ball well at times on the banged up Ravens defense, but could not convert 2 of 3 red zone drives into touchdowns. Running back Rashard Mendenhall dropped a sure touchdown pass on their first red zone possession following a Ravens turnover and penalties and drops thwarted another red zone possession in the 4th quarter. That drive did result in the game winning 38 yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger struggled a bit with his accuracy on the day, but finished 17 of 33 for 259 yards. He also added a 24 yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Santonio Holmes and one interception on the day. Roethlisberger was also sacked 4 times on the day. Holmes led all receivers on the day with 86 yards on 5 receptions. Mendenhall finished with just 36 yards rushing on 17 carries and did fumble once. He added a 4 yard touchdown run and did manage to crack 1000 yards on the season. The offense never could find a true rhythm on the day as the Ravens did a great job disguising and guessing on run blitzes.
The defense bent several times, but did not totally break. The gave up 141 rushing yards to Ravens running back Ray Rice, but did manage to hold quarterback Joe Flacco to 166 yards passing on the day. Flacco managed 2 touchdown passes to tight end Todd Heap on size mismatches, but the defense managed to sack Flacco 4 times and intercept him once. They also forced 2 key fumbles in the game, both in Steelers territory. The defense was also benefited by drops, the most noticeable by receiver Derrick Mason who dropped a sure touchdown pass in the endzone after a great double move. The Ravens offense moved the ball well in the second half, but continued to shoot themselves in the foot with drops and penalties. The Steelers made plays defensively though when given second chances. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley finished with 2 sacks and 10 total tackles on the day and was all over the field. Cornerback Ike Taylor played his best game in several weeks as well and recorded his 2nd career sack on Sunday. Rookie defensive end Ziggy Hood added a sack and a key 4th quarter fumble recovery late in the game following a Flacco fumble. Both teams finished a dismal 5 of 13 on 3rd downs on the day.
The Steelers now move to 8-7 on the season and still do not control their own destiny as far as making the playoffs go. The Steelers travel to Miami next week in a must win game and must get help in order to get a Wild Card spot. Depending on how the help works out, they could be waiting until Sunday night to see if the Bengals can knock off the Jets. That game has been flexed to the NBC Sunday Night game. The Steelers are not dead yet, but it will be a long week in Pittsburgh as several teams have their hands firmly gripped on the life support power cord.
Injury wise, Tomlin said that wide receiver Hines Ward is very banged up after tweaking his hamstring again. Defensive end Brett Keisel suffered another stinger but expects to play next week. Linebacker James Harrison played with one arm mostly on Sunday as he is slowed with a biceps injury. All three players will likely be limited early next week and Tomlin will update their conditions on Tuesday. Tomlin hinted he would give another MRI update on safety Troy Polamalu, who sat out his 6th straight game with a knee injury.