The offensive line breakdown report from the Sunday night game against the Baltimore Ravens is now complete and I had to even do this twice because of the tremendous grades that I gave the first time through. This was by far the best the offensive line has played as a unit all season and the best against the Ravens in some time.
All 5 starters scored in the 90% range and that is just unheard of. The sack allowed on 3rd down however in the redzone can\’t be ignored though as it was a huge play in the game and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal because of it. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was hardly ever under any serious pressure in the game and was able to stay comfortably in the pocket to make his throws.
The rushing numbers do not really reflect how good the run blocking was but the holes and the push was provided all night. We are also seeing the offense run more to the left now with good positive yardage and the less they can be be predictable going forward is always a good thing.
There is a lot you can say about continuity on an offensive line and it has been evident the last few games. The scores pretty much speak for themselves below.
Chris Kemoeatu – Top billing this weeks goes to Kemoeatu who really played fantastic against the Ravens. He was smooth on the move, made no mental mistakes and looked dominant in both his run and pass blocking. He really helped well to each side of him and really only allowed one chartable deep pressure. He was able to hold his ground much better this week and did a great job of not letting hands inside his frame. He was not asked to pull that many times, but always seemed to hit his mark when asked to do so. You could not ask for a better game from him and hopefully this level of play continues.
Maurkice Pouncey – Pouncey was fantastic controlling the a-gaps and had very few noticeable bad plays outside of the one pressure allowed. Was great helping on the twist and stunts inside and you did not hear the names of Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones or Haloti Ngata called much. This was probably the best game Pouncey has had against the Ravens in the 5 times facing them. It is the type of game you expect from him.
Ramon Foster – I seem to mention this every week, but Foster really plays well with Marcus Gilbert next to him. The two can really double-team defensive tackles well and Foster was pretty solid versus Ngata. We have seen Foster start pulling more to the left over the last few weeks and he has done well in that role when asked. He had a crushing block on one of the pulls Sunday night. He did combine to give up a key sack in the game on third down as he was beaten inside. It was a complete game from Foster and he really is in a groove right now as far as consistency goes.
Marcus Gilbert – Gilbert really did a great job when facing Terrell Suggs and company on the edge. He was guilty of sharing blame with Foster on the lone sack, but was pretty much flawless the rest of the way. He is not to blame for not cutting Suggs on the interception as Suggs simply read the play well and was dropped well out of reach for Gilbert. He also made sure to stay on his man around the pocket and this led to a few times with him finishing directly behind Roethlisberger or past him. He never quit on a play and he looks real comfortable at right tackle now and no way resembles a rookie.
Max Starks – Starks owned Suggs and was excellent using his arms and hands to fight with. He did allow a few deep pressures, but only 1 real chartable one. The big play Suggs made was shooting past Starks on a running play. The holding call was charged against him on a run, but watching the replay, it was just a tiny hook and normally that is not called. Starks looks the best he has in his career right now and it is very visible from snap to snap. He really has helped solidify the offensive line since he returned in week 5.
Trai Essex – Just one snap for Essex as an extra tight end on the Rashard Mendenhall touchdown and he allowed Suggs to shoot right past him to almost make a huge backside tackle on the run to the other side. 0-1.
Skill Positions – Mike Wallace needs to work on his run blocking outside as it cost the Steelers some positive yardage. He is not asked to do it much, but needs to make sure he does a better job when asked to do it. Jerricho Cotchery needs to live up better to his billing in this part of his game as well. Heath Miller and David Johnson turned in their usual good performances with just a few demerits this week. Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman all looked great in blitz pick-up and Mendenhall flattened Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis twice.