The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 Sunday to move their record 7-5 on the season. Below are the players, or group of players, that I thought had winning and losing performances in the game.
Charlie Batch – Batch provided the best 25-of-36 game of his career Sunday as he threw for 276 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Sure, he missed a wide open Mike Wallace in the end zone, and his interception was certainly and ill-advised throw, but his 8 for 8 performance on the final two drives is what won the game. If that was indeed the last start ever made by Batch, he certainly went out nicely. It wasn\’t flawless, but it certainly was good enough.
James Harrison – Harrison not only led the team in total tackles with 7, but his forced sack fumble with 9:50 left in the game ignited the comeback. Harrison is still not the player he once was, but he is certainly a much better player than what he started the season as.
Heath Miller -The effort that Miller made on the 7 yard touchdown reception is enough to land him on the winner list. He would finish the game with 6 catches for 97 yards with his first catch not even taking place until late in the first half.
Shaun Suisham – All three of the field goals that Suisham had in this game were from 41 yards or more out and he drilled every one of them. He also did a great job with his squib kicks and had two touchbacks in the game as well.
Kelvin Beachum – The rookie made his first career start at right tackle and did not disappoint. He faced off mostly against Paul Kruger, who finished the game with just 1 sack, which came via great coverage. Beachum did his job on that play as Batch had 5 seconds worth of time to get rid of the ball. Beachum didn\’t have a lot of help in the game either, especially in the second half. It was a sink or swim moment for him and he definitely swam.
Emmanuel Sanders – Sanders had the butter fingers this week. His fumble after a completion that might have gone for a touchdown was a huge turning point in the game. While known as being the best run blocking wide receiver on the team, he missed several run blocks on Sunday to boot.
Mike Wallace – Wallace ended the game with 5 catches for 44 yards, but he had a key drop on a free play down the right sideline that he has to make. The Steelers would have had the ball at around the Ravens 20 yard-line, and who knows how the drive might have played out from there. Both he and Sanders were certainly not backup-quarterback-friendly in this game.
Cortez Allen – The night started off good for Allen, who took over early for the injured Ike Taylor, but his pass interference penalty, combined with getting beat easily by Anquan Boldin off of a missed jam at the line for a touchdown can\’t be overlooked. The second-year cornerback did register 3 passes defensed to his credit, but he has to play more even moving forward.
Will Allen – His fourth quarter hold of the hair on a punt return was not necessary and it backed the Steelers offense up to their own 20 because of it. The special teams unit struggles enough without penalties and he did not do enough on defense to prevent himself from winding up here.
Greg Warren & Ryan Mundy – We might find out later in the week who indeed blew the responsibility on the partially blocked punt, but it certainly was one of the two that was at fault, if not both. The poor net resulted in the Ravens getting their first field goal of the game.