Week 16 Recap: A Gift From The Ratbirds

The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to keep their slim postseason hopes alive with a hard fought 23-20 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.   Unfortunately, things around the NFL didn’t exactly fall their way yesterday so they still find themselves behind a long line of teams in the AFC playoff race.  However, a win over the Ratbirds is still a win over the Ratbirds.   Regardless of how the final week of the season shakes out, we can at least rest easy knowing that gang of thugs and their insufferable fanbase can’t lay claim to sweeping the season series and knocking us out of contention.

The first quarter of yesterday’s game was the best overall effort from the Black and Gold since the Denver game some months back.  Bruce Arians reined in the Flying Circus and we came out with a relatively balanced attack (21 passes vs 13 runs at halftime).  Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t running all that effectively, only totaling 36 yards on the day, but at least Arians adjusted to the fact Baltimore was swarming in on Ben Roethlisberger almost every time he dropped back to pass.   Remember when we marveled at the fact our offensive line wasn’t as bad as we thought?   Well, they’re as bad as we thought.   They’ve now given up close to 20 sacks over the past three games with four coming this week and it easily could’ve been more than double that if not for Ben’s amazing ability to break away from tackles.

Defensively, the team came out with some funky new schemes which put the blitz back in Blitzburgh.  This was the most QB pressure they’ve gotten in weeks.  Joe Flacco panics like a scared little girl when he’s rushed which prevented him from exploiting our terrible secondary.  Deshea Townshend was targeted frequently as a slight improvement over Will.i.am Gay.   At least Deshea doesn’t give WRs a 12 yard cushion on every play.  Tyrone Carter continues to be a giant black hole of suck.

Thankfully, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley came to play.  Both had monster games.  Mister Woodley set up the Steelers first score by crashing in on Flacco just as he was about to release the ball.  The wounded duck ended up in James Farrior‘s hands for an INT.  That’s only the team’s ninth INT this season.   And Troy Polamalu has three of them!

The Steelers should’ve converted the turnover into a touchdown when Big Ben’s pass hit a wide open Mendy on the hands right at the goal line.  He Sweeded it to the turf so they settled for a Skippy Reed FG.  Baltimore answered back when Carter was burned for a 27 yard gain which set up a boot for the Ratbirds.

Stefan Logan electrified Heinz Field by returning the kickoff 49 yards.  We complain about the horrid special teams play this season but I’d like to note Joystick now has the Steelers all-time single season record in return yardage.  Anyway, Ben pulled his David Blaine act in escaping a sack and finding Mike Wallace for 12 yards.  Fast Willie Parker added a 13 yard run before the drive stalled when Baltimore managed to finally bring Ben down, forcing them to kick another FG.

The Ravens got backed up on their next drive and their punter shanked his kick after a three and out.  Starting at the Baltimore 43, Santonio Holmes caught a 13 yard pass then Hines Ward drew an 18 yard pass interference penalty.  Mendy atoned for his earlier mistake by bulling his way into the endzone from five yards out.  Steelers were up 13-3 and things were looking pretty good.

The Ravens struck back immediately, going 61 yards on seven plays.  A couple nice runs by Ray Rice were mixed with short passes down the middle.   Then Flacco uncorked a 30 yard TD bomb where Todd Heap outleaped Deshea by about a foot and a half.  I still like him better than Gay.

Finally, with two minutes left in the quarter, Big Ben went to work.  Recognizing that a Raven had jumped offsides, he uncorked a bomb to Wallace.   Wallace made a great adjustment to the ball and came down with a 45 yard gain.   A few plays later, Ben hit Santonio on a short out pattern which turned into a 24 yard TD when the inept CB got juked out his jock.  Halftime came with the Steelers holding a 20-10 lead.

The third quarter was one of the most one-sided affairs you’ll ever see.  The Steelers ran four plays the entire fifteen minutes.   FOUR.  The Ravens started the quarter off by riding Ray Rice for all he’s worth.  And he’s worth a lot as his 15 yard run and a 14 yard screen contributed to setting up another TD pass to Heap.  Rice, by the way, had 141 rushing yards yesterday.   That’s the first 100+ yard rusher the Steelers have allowed in more than thirty games.

On the Steelers first play of the second half, Ben threw a Pick Six.   Well, it should have been a Pick Six but the Ravens were flagged for an illegal block on the return.  This is why I have a problem with the Flying Circus.  Yes, Ben is one of the best QBs in the game.  Yes, he threw for 500 yards last week.   Yes, I think he’s a fantastic player.  But he’s not consistent.  He makes a lot of mistakes.  Last week, he was in the zone.  This week, he was not sharp in going 17/33 for 259 yards, although it was enough to give him the Steelers single season yardage record.   He’d frequently underthrow or overthrow his targets and he made a number of very poor decisions.  I like Ben but it’s hard to be a Pass First Offense when your QB is so streaky.

The defense managed to stiffen up following the turnover allowing Baltimore only a FG out of the deal.   Those points tied the score at 20-20.   A three and out by the Steelers gave the ball right back.   The Ravens once again moved effectively down the field thanks mostly to Rice’s running.  Pittsburgh caught their second break of the quarter when Willis McGahee pinch hit for Rice.  He ripped off a 32 yard TD that got called back on yet another holding penalty.

The Ravens had only begun to self-destruct.

At the start of the fourth quarter, they still had the ball on the Steelers 17.   One would think they’d at least get the go-ahead FG.  Instead, their drive came to a crashing halt under a sea of yellow flags.  A holding penalty moved them back five yards.  Then a pair of incompletions were followed by a personal foul.  First and ten at the 17 quickly became third and thirty from the 41.  The Ratbirds had a golden opportunity to salvage the drive when Derrick Mason blew past Deshea like he was standing still and was wide open in the endzone but the ball clanked off his facemask in a Sweed-like fashion.   So despite having two TDs served up on a platter, the result of the drive was only a punt.

A couple punts later, Big Ben lead what would be the game-winning drive.  A crucial third down conversion was made by Tyler Grisham.   Who?  Grisham is a rookie who was just activated off the practice squad, evidently due to Sweed’s mystery illness and Joey Galloway not being up to speed yet.  So the rook made his first NFL catch a clutch 14 yard gain.  Of course, a few plays later he dropped an easy one on third down.  Holmes sandwiched a 24 yard catch-and-run in between those which set up Skippy’s 38 yarder.

The Ravens had a great chance to tie it.  The ensuing kickoff was returned 48 yards where only Skippy’s tackle (actually more of a playground shove) saved the return TD.  Starting at the Steelers 49, the Ravens worked the ball down to the 37.   That’s when Mister Woodley decided to end this farce once and for all.   He sacked Flacco for a three yard loss.  On the next play, he sacked him again, this time knocking the ball free for good measure.  Ziggy Hood (who also had his first sack earlier in the game and showed some good pass rushing abilities) pounced on it for the fumble recovery.

Awesome.  Let’s sit on the ball and go home.   Done deal, right?

Arians decided to put the game completely out of reach with two and half minutes left by throwing on third down.   Ben threw a really poor pass that was intercepted.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?   CAN’T THESE GUYS MAKE ANYTHING EASY?!?!

However, repeat after me, there was a flag on the play.  Illegal contact on the Ravens.   Automatic first down.   The Ratbirds successfully piss away a game.  The Steelers successfully go into victory formation.  That’s all, folks.

I’d love to be more excited by this game but the Steelers could’ve easily been blown out.  I’ve never seen a more sloppy, poorly disciplined team than the Ravens.   They had 11 penalties for 113 yards yesterday.  More importantly, they had two TDs wiped off the board to go along with the one Mason completely whiffed on.  Not to mention all the drives that were stalled by holding or false start penalties.

Despite playing good football during the first half, the Steelers did not look good in the second.  When you only run four plays an entire quarter, you know something is rotten in Bloomfield.  Mendy couldn’t get on track so the entire offense fell on Ben’s shoulders.   Unlike last week, he was not in the zone so everything sputtered.  Of course, a lot of this has to do with an offensive line which is playing atrociously.  And then on defense, Deshea may be a bandaid but he’s not the cure.  Also, we all knew Aaron Smith was the key to the run defense and yet, the team has played excellent against the run in his absence.   This week, it all came crashing down.

I’ll be rooting for the Steeler next week to make the playoffs.   Make no mistake, if by some miracle we get in, I’m not expecting some 2005 style run.   In fact, I’m sure we’d end up being one-and-done.  However, I’m a proud member of Steeler Nation so I’m going to pull for them even when I know this team is not a championship level team.   I will say by winning the past two games and giving themselves a CHANCE at the playoffs, the team has earned my respect for at least going down with a fight.

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  • “O”

    Know thy enemy Colts. WTF. I believe that the Colts did not want to see us in the playoffs so the threw the game. How do you pull your offense out of the game with a perfect season on the line in a game with playoff implications. Bush league. They are now atop the list of teams I hate. All respect that I may have had is gone. The era of don’t play you might get hurt is weak. Play the game finish the game if you don’t win then thats ok. But pulling your team and letting them”rest” is chicken shi* at best.Boooo Colts boooo.
    At least we beat the Crows and they don’t have any bragging rights. I don’t know why they would try to brag anyhow with purple uniforms. Do you need a rap sheet to play for them too. Lets just hope we can beat the fish and the Raiders can beat the ratbirds,oh and the Cheifs can beat the Broncos, and New England can beat Houston. Wow what a year.
    Go Steelers

  • JLaw

    Right on “O” I still respect Manning cause you could see the look of disgust on his face but to hell with the rest of them. I think you’re right, fear that we’d put the boots to them is the real reason they laid down. And for that excellent display of cowardness i hope they get the boots from whomever they play anyway.
    Chris I agree that 3rd quarter was horrible. The 4th wasn’t much better but like you’ve said before a win is a win.

  • “O”

    JLaw I will give you that he did look pretty pissed off.
    Hey Chris did you see the Hines Ward post game interview. Check it out, he says the exact same thing I said about stats and rings. Pretty funny.

  • Spacemonkey

    Actually something I did notice, in between screaming profanities and the word “THROW!” over and over at Ben, was the clever fact that as soon as Tyrone Carter started hugging the line of scrimmage, sacks and pressure really picked up, and the running yardage slowed to a trickle.

    Every time TC backed off the line and went into coverage, they either completed a critical pass or ran for good yardage. I started rooting for TC, screaming “crowd the line!” every time I saw his number on the field.

    On another note…

    It *is* getting harder and harder to control the profanities and expletives when I have to sit and watch Ben casually stroll around back there, behind a really suspect line, like somehow he has 45 minutes after every snap before he has to start looking for open receivers. Concussions are strange things, and one aftereffect is severely diminished speed in cognitive performance; and I think Ben is making great calls, he’s plenty smart, just not getting those neurons firing fast enough to get it done. By the time he’s decided who he’s going to throw to, no less than three rushers are bearing down on him – or already have, and there’s another s-a-c-k.

    As much as we want to say the Ravens laid several eggs yesterday, this score should not have been close. No less than three drives died early due to Casual Ben hanging around back there. Come on Ben, pick up the pace and git ‘er done!

  • andrew

    I wouldnt count them out if they make the playoffs. Theyd have Troy back, which is the only reason our team has sucked so bad on defense. Get him back, and we resume our 14 ppg allowance, and go back to whoopin ass…

    I hope.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    JLaw and O, I’m with you guys on the disgust at Indy. That was a disgraceful display on Sunday. Cowardly teams like that deserve to be one and done. I was only mildly interested in this year’s playoffs (if the Steelers don’t make it) but at least now I have a team to root against.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    Spacemonkey, I think “Throw the ball, Ben!” is a common chant among all Steeler fans. And I’ll give you that Ben seemed to be in a fog during the Oakland and definitely the Browns games. But his neurons fired fast enough for him to pass for 500 yards two weeks ago so I don’t think you can blame the concussion for Sunday.

    Your observation does bring up why I’m not enthused with us being a pass-first/pass-often offense.

  • Studydaze

    Aw come on, let’s be honest here. The Steelers didn’t beat the Ravens, the Ravens beat the Ravens. If it wasn’t for their own (convenient)penalties which pulled back 2 touchdowns, and Derrick Mason’s unbelievable miss in the endzone,the Steeler gang of thugs and their insufferable fanbase would be home crying over the 21 extra points the Ravens would have had. I know though, to you guys a win is a win, even when you have to pay for it. I guess the good news is no harm of the Squeelers getting hurt in the playoffs. You guys can just sit at home in Shittsburgh and root for the Ravens from your living rooms!!

  • “O”

    The only Squellers I hear is the ratbirds fans after every loss. Can’t you take a loss like a man and admit that you shitbirds suck. You wnat to be like the Steelers so much you hate us. We can’t help it that your teams full of criminals and degenerates. We hear this every year and every year it is because we beat the snot out of you. Penaties are called when you comit them. Every penalty last week was earned by your stupid little purple unifomed thugs. So deal with it and stay on your teams sites, we don’t need to hear from your getto ass idiots every time you lose to us. Get use to it you guys will never be on the level of our franchise, and never will you have as many rings. So go ahead and go one and done this year, and talk shit to someone deserving of it you dirt bag.
    Go Steelers

  • Studydaze

    “O” what an idiot! First, it’s Squeelers not Squellers you retard. Second, only someone really from the getto would spell it that way! It’s ghetto you moron. Just more proof of that brain dead low budget fan base. You are such a pathetic paranoid loser that you believe the Colts lost to hurt your pathetic team of thugs! I can hear you Squealing from here! Little minds can’t grasp that the Colts don’t consider you a threat in the least. Get over yourself. As far as thugs go, let’s set the record straight. You must be speaking of Santonio Holmes’ arrest in 6/2006 for domestic violence. Or maybe you meant James Harrison’s arrest of 3/2008 for “one count of simple assault for intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily harm, and one count of criminal mischief, for intentionally or recklessly tampering with tangible property of another.” Yeah, I’d say beating up on women pretty much defines THUG. I’d love to enlighten you a bit more but alas I’ve met my quota of educating the retards for the year so I won’t be checking back or responding to your idiotic ramblings. Sit back and enjoy the rest of the Ravens season and don’t forget no one ever moved TO Pittsburgh! Go Ravens!

  • “O”

    Baltimore is the worst place you can live besides Detroit. I’ve been there and yes it is the getto. The turpike goes around Baltimore for a reason nobody even wants to drive thruogh there. You Ravens are a one and done team at best. You would have lost to us twice this season if we did not play you with our third string QB. Took an ovetime interception to beat us. Half you defense collects social security but somhow seem to hang around for another season. Two arrests to your countless even Ray Lewis should be in prison right now. I don’t even know why I am wasting my time talking to you, yoour dumb enough to be a Ravens fan. That pretty much says it all.
    Go Steelers

  • Studydaze

    One more note for “O”, the Ravens want to be so much like the Steelers?? Is that why one 2 of the Squeelers made it to the Pro Bowl and 5 of the Ravens did? Wow, can’t count there in Shittsburgh either can you?
    You Are So Wee Todd Did. Sofa King Wee Todd Did, O!

  • “O”

    So 5 of the Ravens got voted onto prom court. That means your fans voted more than anyone else. Pro Bowl means nothing to us or our team. It is a popularity contest and that is it. Get a life and off our site you duesce.

  • “O”

    Misspelled word due to being so irratated from your ramblings. Did not know I was in a spelling B.

  • Studydaze

    “O” my retarded shittsburger, you misspelled much more than 1 word. “duesce” – don’t even know what that is supposed to be — must be a word indigenous to the inbred playground known as Pittsburgh. You’re so “irratated” are you? Another Shittsburgh slip, it’s “irritated” you imbecile. Other of your Shittsburgh misspellings include:
    getto, wnat, Penaties, comit, turpike (the turnpike does not go around Baltimore City, once again you show that you do not know of what you speak and misspell!)ovetime, somhow, yoour (not only is it misspelled it is the wrong word – you needed a contraction here – you’re meaning you are – Yeah, I’m the dumb one!! LMAO!!)

    So we only beat you because Big Ben wasn’t playing huh? Tell me then, when you lost to that fantastic team the Cleveland Browns, on 12-10, what excuse did you make for that one? Or the numerous other losses this year with Ben and the helm? You guys only ever win because you own the officials. Get a clue!

    I’ve enjoyed educating you though I suspect it has fallen on deaf ears. This time I really must say Adios. But, I leave you with one other thought:

    You said, and I quote, “Did not know I was in a spelling B.” First, it is spelling bee. Second, you aren’t. See my simple minded “O” how you spell and write shows others your level of intelligence and education. I tried hard not to hold it against you being born and inbred in Shittsburgh and all, but let’s be honest, you’ve shown yourself to be rather unintelligent and boorish. Enjoy the rest of the season {puffing purple smoke your way} Bye Bye!

  • “O”

    Thank you teacher.

  • “O”

    You still did not prove anything but the fact you use spell check and I don’t care how I spell. You still got the point. Your still live in Baltimore and your still a Ravens fan. But you spell better than me when I want to go through the screen and rip your purple little head off. Good job.

  • JLaw

    I always love when the spelling police show up! Guess he doesn’t read past writings cause we’ve both said we are outside the burgh. Don’t sweat it “O”, jealousy is the biggest sign of flattery.

  • http://nicepickcowher.com chris

    Man, I go out to see “Sherlock Holmes” for a few hours and come back to a flame war. Guys, it never pays to try and reason with a Ratbird fan. Logic and reason are not their friend.

    And yes, bringing out the spelling police is always a sure sign that the other guy has no argument. He could talk about the fact the Steelers have won every meaningful game between the teams in the past ten years or that they haven’t beat Big Ben since 2006 but instead he resorts to petty insults. I hope they enjoy their one-and-done act in the playoffs while we enjoy our six shiny Lombardi Trophies.

  • Spacemonkey

    Spelling Police should be added to Godwin’s Law.


  • “O”

    Thank you Chris. Thank you JLaw. He must be in a fog of purple smoke thinking people want to live in Baltimore. Even the Colts did not want to be there. That kind of argument comes from a school teacher whom never played a sport in his life, and has the football IQ of a fourth grader. Much like every other Ratbird fan I’ve ever heard verbally throw up. But yes he did not make one point about football the whole time. Sorry Chris I had to do some enforcing for the site, cant stand people who say we pay off the refs. That is really reaching for an excuse for losing. Pathetic.

  • Iron City Grammar Police

    Studydaze is right when he says that spelling and grammar do reveal things about intelligence.

    But Studydaze is simply using a spell checker, probably in Firefox. His posts contain capitalization and punctuation errors. And some odd grammar from time to time.

    (And yes, that sentence fragment is legal.)

  • “O”

    That is funny. Iron City Grammar Police. He is still the smartest person in Baltimore. So he thinks he is the smartest person in America.