The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 Sunday and below are my second half notes from the game. Here are my first half notes in case you missed them.
On the first offensive play of the second half Terrence Cody pushes Doug Legursky back into the pockets and gets the pass deflection. Not a good start. Haloti Ngata abuses Maurkice Pouncey on the second play, but Charlie Batch is able to complete a pass to Emmanuel Sanders out to the left. Not a great start by the offensive line. Batch next hits Heath Miller for an explosive play off of a nice play fake that freezes the linebackers and opens up space above the second level. Jonathan Dwyer finishes the drive with a nice effort with Batch running ahead of him to block Cary Williams. This is the old 18 straight play that Dwyer merely bounces outside after pressing the line of scrimmage. Great opening drive.
The Ravens seemingly convert a 3rd and 11 on their next drive but Anquan Boldin is flagged for a blatant push off on Cortez Allen. Boldin is so steamed that he commits a false start on the next play and Baltimore is going in the wrong direction and the drive ultimately stalls.
On the first play of the Steelers next drive Batch is almost sacked as once again Pouncey and Legursky allow deep pressure. Batch is able to get rid of the ball going down, but John Harbaugh is not convinced and thinks it is a fumble. He makes a poor decision to challenge and loses a timeout as a result. Batch next hits Sanders on a post route on third and long for what might have ended in a touchdown, but the receiver fumbles the football after a few steps and Ed Reed recovers it.
Ziggy Hood sacks Joe Flacco on the next drive thanks to solid coverage, but the Ravens pick up the third and long as Flacco hits an uncovered Dennis Pitta in the middle of the field as both Troy Polamalu and Allen came on a blitz. Flacco then misses Torrey Smith deep in the end zone as Allen was beat on the play. Smith should of made the catch, but it doesn\’t matter as Ray Rice scores from 30 plus yards out on the next play on a nice cut back to the left side. On that play both Brett Keisel and James Harrison are trapped inside, and Allen fails to hold the outside contain.
The Steelers move out of their own end on the next drive, but it stalls after Sanders drops a third down pass from Batch at the Ravens 26 yard-line. Bernard Pollard made a nice hit on the play, but Sanders has to catch that ball regardless. It looked like Sanders took a last minute peek on the play to see where Pollard was.
Larry Foote comes on a blitz on the Ravens next possession and gets Flacco in the grasp for a sack. It was a quick whistle on the play in my opinion and the Steelers caught a break. On the third and long that would follow, Allen comes off the edge again and Flacco fails to complete the deep pass. Great coverage by Keenan Lewis on Jacoby Jones on the play.
Will Allen picks up a stupid holding call on the ensuing punt and the Steelers offense must start on their own 20 as result. It was a hair hold. Isaac Redman breaks off a long run on the drive thanks to great blocks by Kelvin Beachum, Will Johnson, and Miller. Redman makes sure he has two hands covering the ball even in the second level. Batch is sacked on the next play as Beachum and Redman fail to work good together on Arthur Jones. Coverage sack? Maybe, maybe not, but the pressure certainly was allowed. On second down Batch hits Miller down the seam off of a great fake screen to Chris Rainey. This was probably the best play call of the game, but the excitement would not last long. The next pass to Miller in the end zone is intercepted by Reed. The Ravens were in cover-3 and it appears that Sanders quits his route too soon. This allows Reed to stay deep on the play and he doesn\’t fall for the shoulder fake to the left by Batch. To make matters worse, Sanders starts walking off of the field as Reed brings the ball out of the end zone for a nice return after several missed tackles. It would be interesting to know if Sanders ran the right route or just didn\’t finish it by taking Reed more to the center of the field.
The Steelers defense gets the ball back quickly as Harrison beats Michael Oher around the edge for the strip sack of Flacco. Batch has the Steelers in the end zone in four plays with nice throws to Sanders and Miller for the touchdown. The effort made by Miller to score is just one more reason why he should be going to Pro Bowl this season. He can do it all and is proving yet again in this game. Sanders ran just enough of a pick on the play for Miller to get outside for Batch who had rolled his direction behind the sliding offensive line. The game, if you can believe it, is now tied.
The Ravens open their next drive by going back to the misdirection pass to Vonta Leach on first down. This was the second time in the game this play worked and it was good for a first down. That would be it, however, for the Ravens as the next three passes were incomplete. On the third down play the defense disguises the numbers coming and Foote comes off the edge around both Oher and Rice to get a hit on Flacco as he releases the ball. The Ravens must punt it back to the Steelers with just over 6 minutes left in the game.
After two runs by Redman up the middle to start what would be the game-winning drive, Batch makes perhaps the gutsiest throw of the day as he stands in the pocket to deliver a third down pass to Mike Wallace for the first down. A nice run by Redman and a couple of short passes out to the sides has the Steelers into the Ravens territory. On the next first down play Paul Kruger is flagged for a late hit on Batch. Was this a makeup call for the hit Ngata put on Batch a few plays earlier? Nope. This flag was justified. The ball is now deep in the Ravens end and the Steelers just need to run clock. Pouncey takes a false start penalty to start, but it doesn\’t come back to haunt as Shaun Suisham kicks home the game winner from 40 plus yards out after a few runs right up the middle.