The Pittsburgh Steelers beat to the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 Sunday and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
A really great effort by Ike Taylor on the first deep ball to Torrey Smith. Smith should have still come down with the ball, but Taylor hung with him and pulled the arms away. That was the second play of the game and the last that Taylor would play as he would not return because of an injury to his lower left ankle area. Cortez Allen would replace Taylor. Curtis Brown, who is now the third corner with Taylor out, has a nice breakup of a third short pass intended for Anquin Boldin to put an end the Ravens opening drive.
A nice effort by Jonathan Dwyer on the Steelers first offensive play. Maurkice Pouncey, who started the game at left guard, pulled right but there was no running room. Dwyer bounces off the first hit back inside for 5 yards. Kelvin Beachum gets off to a little bit of a rough start and allows a low hit on Charlie Batch on the second pass of the game. In truth, the hit may have been a little late and Batch is lucky his night was not over before it even really got started. batch completed the pass to Emmanuel Sanders for a first down. After another nice run by Dwyer he is stopped for a loss after Pouncey misses Terrell Suggs on another pull to his right. Pouncey gives up on a pressure on 2nd down forcing Batch to throw the ball away and the Steelers are faced with a third and long. Batch gets some yardage back with a completion to Antonio Brown and the Steelers settle for an opening drive field goal.
Lawrence Timmons wraps up Ray Rice on a dump off over the middle on the Ravens next possession and Allen knocks away a third down pass intended for Boldin to end the drive. Allen probably got away with some holding early, but was not called. Boldin would later get his revenge, however.
On the Steelers next possession they go three out. The curious play call was on third and three as Batch over threw brown down the right sideline. The Steelers were in 12 personnel on the play and kept David Paulson in on the left side to block. Will Johnson was the lone back and Batch had him for an easy check down underneath for a first down if he wanted him. Instead the Steelers go three and out.
Jason Worilds almost has Joe Flacco for a sack on third down of the next Ravens possession, but Flacco gets the pass away to Bernard Pierce out to the left side and he gets the first down after Ryan Clark fails to make to make the tackle short of the sticks. Vonta Leach picks up another first down on a misdirection pass as the Steelers defense falls for the run fake going the other way. The Ravens cut Casey Hampton early in the second quarter, but Worilds is there to make the stop after splitting a double team on a stretch zone run. On the ensuing third down play Flacco throws very high to Smith, who is upended by Brown on the play. The 10 play, 40 yard drive comes to an end and the Ravens settle for a field goal.
The Steelers offense goes three and out on their next drive which ends with Paul Kruger sacking Batch. This was a coverage sack and no way Beachum gets blamed here as Batch had 5 seconds of time to get rid of the ball. The ensuing punt by drew Butler is partially blocked and the Ravens have good field position as a result.
Allen would defend the next two Flacco passes, one to Boldin and a deep one in the end zone to Smith that he almost picks off. The next pass thrown at Allen would not go so well as he is flagged for hooking Smith. The Ravens drive would stall at the Steelers 4 yard-line thanks to good coverage by Larry Foote on Boldin. Foote actually gets credit for the defensed pass.
The Steelers offense proceeds to go three and out for a third straight drive.
The Ravens next drive ends via a Flacco interception. Brett Keisel provides the initial pressure and spins Flacco out of the pocket. The Ravens quarterback then lobs up an ill-advised throw off of his back foot and Clark is there for the easy fly ball. The Steelers give it right back as Brown throws up a duck intended for Dwyer on the opposite side of the field on a trick play. Corey Graham was not fooled.
Flacco under throws Boldin deep on the next drive following a penalty on Keenan Lewis, but Allen can\'t adjust to it while the Ravens receiver does. Flacco is making it a point to go after Allen with Taylor out of the game. On the very next play Allen misses the jam on Boldin off the line and Flacco drops in the bucket for a touchdown. It was a rough series for the Steelers defensive backs.
Chris Rainey gives the Steelers nice field position on the kickoff on a nice return out the 40 yard-line. Batch misses Mike Wallace deep and then Wallace drops the best throw by Batch up until this point of the game at the Ravens 20 yard-line on a free play. Luckily Batch hooks up with Heath Miller on an out route on third down to keep the drive alive. It was the first catch of Miller in the game with 1:03 left in the half. Batch then misses a wide open Wallace high in the back of the end zone. It was a blown coverage by the Ravens on the play. Right now Batch has no continuity with his receivers whatsoever. The Steelers settle for another field goal and go into halftime down only 7 points.
The Steelers offensive line really did a good job overall in pass protection in the first half. The run blocking wasn\'t fantastic and Pouncey really had a rough start at left guard. The Steelers only ran 10 times in the first half while Batch dropped back 18 times. The penalties on defensive backs really hurt the team in this half in addition. At least they get the ball to start the second half.