Steelers Report Card: Game 9 vs. Ravens

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Ben Roethlisberger came back from a shaky start to complete 7 of 11 passes for 124 yards and a pair of late scores to overcome a 10-point deficit. Unlike the way he had performed during the four-game winning streak, Roethlisberger looked unsure in the first half when he complete just 7 of 15 passes for 115 yards. An interception in the red zone on the first possession of the second half almost changed the momentum.


Rashard Mendenhall didn't get a lot of carries, but was effective when he did, especially in the second half. He gained 29 yards on his first six carries, including a 1-yard TD run. The Steelers rushed for only 26 yards on eight carries in the first half, but came out in the second half with three consecutive runs by Mendenhall for 13 yards and he had 32 yards rushing on six carries in the third quarter.


Already without Emmanuel Sanders, the Steelers lost Hines Ward (stinger) and Arnaz Battle (hamstring) in the first 20 minutes, leaving them with just three wide receivers. Antonio Brown had two catches for 52 yards in the first half, including a 32-yarder to set up a field goal. Mike Wallace did not have a catch in the first half, but he had a big catch -- a 25-yarder for the go-ahead TD late in the fourth.


Actually, the line did a decent job in run blocking and Roethlisberger was sacked just once in the first half. The running game showed life in the second half, especially Mendenhall. But the Steelers didn't stick with it enough once they took the lead in the fourth quarter. The Steelers didn't utilize Mendenhall enough when they needed to control the clock and run out the time against the Ravens.


It looked like a repeat of the last game when Ray Rice ran 76 yards for an apparent TD on the first play, but the play was negated by a holding penalty. Otherwise, the Ravens rushed for just 37 yards on 17 carries in the first half and finished with 67 yards on 27 carries. And the line did a good job stuffing two runs from the 1 on the opening series, forcing the Ravens to settle for a field goal.


The Steelers were without LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior, but James Harrison had three sacks and a forced fumble in his return from a four-game absence. Larry Foote was outstanding replacing Farrior. The Ravens were able to convert 7 of their first 10 third-down chances in the first half and 14 of 21 overall, allowing them to control the football for nearly 18 minutes in the first half.


They let QB Joe Flacco drive 92 yards and complete 7 of 13 passes for the winning TD to Torrey Smith over William Gay. Gay also had a pas interference call in the end zone that set up an early FG. And a personal foul against S Ryan Clark kept alive a drive that resulted in a field goal. A pass interference penalty against CB Ike Taylor at the Steelers 4 set up the TD that gave the Ravens a 16-6 lead.


Shaun Suisham kicked two field goals in the second quarter -- the only points managed by the offense in the first half -- but the team took a costly delay of game penalty late in the fourth quarter that prevented Suisham from attempting a 47-yard field goal to put the game away. But the kick-coverage unit was sloppy, allowing returns of 45 and 32 yards to David Reid -- each resulting in a field goal.


For most of the game, the Steelers really had no answer again for the Ravens, either offensively or defensively. They're lucky Rice's TD run on the first play was negated by a penalty. Once again, the defense appeared unsure how to stop the Ravens in the first half when they gained 176 yards and controlled the ball for 18 minutes. And they couldn't stop them on a 92-yard drive at the end.


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