7 gut reactions from the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9 road loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
– My biggest reaction after watching this game is that the Steelers offense needs to play with the same urgency we saw in the 4th quarter more consistently. I get it, I’m a proponent of staying balanced and Le’Veon Bell is a great running back and needs his touches. But the offensive line struggled to get any push which seems to be a disconcerting trend, and Todd Haley should be able to adjust his game-plan on the fly. 32 rushing yards from Bell is an outright embarrassment. 2.3 yards per carry isn’t going to cut it. The offensive line seems like a shell of the group that was unveiled against the Washington Redskins in Week 1.
– I don’t think there’s anything more frustrating than watching your football team of choice beat itself. The Steelers are becoming increasingly good at this with dropped passes, no rushing attack and 13 penalties for 99 yards helped the Ravens take the lead in the AFC North. Right now, it doesn’t matter because despite a very talented roster, the Steelers don’t look like a playoff team.
– The special teams, which has been a relative bright spot throughout the year, was an absolute embarrassment. Punter Jordan Berry, who has been great all year, had his first punt travel for all of 28 yards and had another one blocked. The latter of the two led to a Ravens special teams’ touchdown. Then when the Steelers’ offense finally came to life in the 4th quarter and when it was time to attempt an onside kick, kicker Chris Boswell’s attempt was an absolute embarrassment. It was a bad play-call, bad game management and had bad results.
– The offense’s numbers were humiliating, but sometimes numbers don’t the whole story. With 12:00 minutes left in the game the Steelers offense hadn’t had a drive that lasted more than five plays, FIVE! This massive display of ineptness contained 10 three and out’s, the blocked punt that led to a touchdown and an interception. The Ravens constantly had a short field and were almost as bad offensively, but eventually turned their field position advantage into a Justin Tucker field goal, one more field goal than the Steelers attempted or scored. Oh, and what happened the one time the Steelers managed to pin the Ravens offense inside the 5-yard line? The defense surrendered a 95-yard touchdown pass.
– The Steelers defense did some positive things Sunday. After struggling mightily against the run in their last two games, they held Ravens running back Terrance West to only 21 yards on 15 attempts. The Steelers’ middle linebackers, Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier, led the team with nine tackles a piece and the defense came together to produce nine tackles for a loss and 6 hits on quarterback Joe Flacco. The poor tackling that has been the defensive unit’s calling card throughout the season was a little better but still on display Sunday. A great example of that occurred on Mike Wallace’s 95-yard touchdown reception when safety Mike Mitchell whiffed in his attempt to bring the wide receiver to the turf.
– This was a sloppy AFC North game with a lot of penalties, stout run defenses and minimal offense. It seems like that is the perfect style of game to defeat the 2016 Steelers. While the Ravens played just as sloppily, their calling card isn’t a high-powered offense like that of the Steelers. 10 three and out’s is a horrible offensive showing against any defense, and the Ravens are far from the Steel Curtain. The Steelers need to find an offensive identity quickly if they want to be a playoff team. Luckily they still have five divisional games left to play.
– The difference between Sunday’s winner and loser was the Ravens’ ability to cash in on their “splash plays,” as head coach Mike Tomlin refers to them. The fact that the Steelers allowed “splash plays” in all three phases of the game is perhaps the most alarming part of this loss and is the reason the team left Baltimore with a loss. Neither team looked overly impressive but the Ravens’ offense was able to produce a 95-yard touchdown pass, their defense held the Steelers to 14 points, their defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan had an interception that led to a field goal, and their special team’s unit blocked a punt and scored a touchdown. They were able to convert “splash plays” into points and the Steelers could not. Back to the drawing board.
What’s your gut reaction to Week 9?