The day was ripe with hopes and dreams of a great hard hitting game between these two historical rivals. Instead, the Steelers looked about as poised to win the game as much as… well hell… they didn’t look poised for anything from the first snap. In fact, they looked like the bottom feeders of the AFC North. This was the first time the team has lost Week 1 since losing to the Patriots back in 2002. Ouch baby.
Joe Flacco finally got that monkey off his back, but it was more about the Steelers’ mistakes that gave him the opportunities. The first possession for the Ravens led to a TD with a nice catch by Anquan Boldin, who had one step on Bryant McFadden. The Ravens didn’t look back and capitalized on 5 of 7 turnovers by the Steelers (hey wow, the Ravens got as many turnovers as the Steelers go points). The single factor that seems to always be the difference maker between these two teams, and the Steelers handed them the game by practically handing them the football.
Some credit needs to be given to the Ravens. They played mistake free football. Their offensive line blocked incredibly well. The defense disrupted things enough. And, Joe Flacco made good throws and managed the game well enough to blow the Black & Gold out of Baltimore and limping back to the ‘Burgh.
But it was the Steelers lack of execution and poor decision making that lead to their greater demise this Sunday afternoon. The offensive line didn’t perform terribly, but allowed big plays from the Ravens to cause turnovers. Ben, after his TD pass to Sanders, quickly began to fall apart with his vision and throwing. He threw for 3 interceptions – 2 of which were passes that should not have been thrown. Rashard Mendenhall ran for 45 yards on 12 carries. The running game was doing fairly well against a usually run stingee defense. But, the Steelers fell behind so quickly and by so much, that the running game went away. The Steelers needed big plays from Big Ben and got none. The fact that he ended the game on his keester says it all.
The defense looked even worse. They gave up just under 400 yards in offense and let Rice and Flacco look like Pro Bowlers. The defense let the offensive line look great – it was a line playing together for the first time. The Steelers allowed a 100 yard rusher since Ray Rice did it back in 2009. They didn’t record a sack until the beginning of the 4th quarter. In fact, that seemed like the first time they got pressure on Flacco as well. All the big defensive names were held to almost no stats and certainly no big plays. All that freshly inked money, and nothing to show for it – except for a hurt knee from Harrison. The scuffles were the only time the Steelers seemed to have any life in them. You can be sure fines will be dished out by Goodell for headbutts and punches thrown – Taylor and Polamalu for certain.
Tomlin has his hands full this upcoming week in preparation for Seattle. Yeah I know, it’s Seattle but even that team looks like they could man handle the Steelers. The press conference won’t be pretty. You think the lockout had no negative effects on this season? Think again. At least it’s only week one with the team looking this bad. There is plenty of time to adjust. And, the Steelers will have plenty of time to look at this footage and see how they need to suck less against the Ravens in Week 9. I hope they can return the favor and wipe that smug look off of prissy Harbaugh’s face.