Steelers Report Card: Game 1 vs. Ravens
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You might have to go back to the Oakland game in 2006 to find a worse performance by Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three interceptions, fumbled twice and was sacked four times Sunday. He did a nice job to keep the play alive on an 11-yard TD to Emmanuel Sanders, but that was about it. In the past three games, counting the postseason, Roethlisberger has thrown seven interceptions.
RUNNING BACKS D
It looked as though it might be a big day for Rashard Mendenhall when he had 48 yards on his first six carries, including a 23-yard run on the only scoring drive. But he had minus-3 yards on his next six carries, one of which was a costly fumble on the first play of the second half. That was one of two fumbles by a running back, the other coming after Mewelde Moore went 22 yards with a swing pass.
WIDE RECEIVERS C
Lots of catches, no big plays. Mike Wallace had his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game and eighth in his career, but he could never get behind the defense for a big strike. The longest pass play was a 31-yard catch-and-run by Hines Ward when matched in single coverage against MLB Ray Lewis. Emmanuel Sanders had only two catches, both on the same drive, but one was an 11-yard TD.
OFFENSIVE LINE F
The Steelers' inability to handle DE Terrell Suggs and DT Haloti Ngata continues to be a big problem. Suggs lined all over the field and had three sacks on Roethlisberger. What's more, he also forced two fumbles. The Steelers tried to double-team Ngata, but it just doesn't work. He tipped a Roethlisberger pass that was intercepted by Ray Lewis, forced a fumble and recovered two others.
DEFENSIVE LINE F
It was a disappointing performance for the NFL's best rush defense in 2010, especially against an offensive line that had never played together. The Ravens ran for 170 yards, the most by an opponent since the Ravens had 175 in Week 15 of the 2009 season. The tone was set on the first play when Ray Rice ran 36 yards to set up the first touchdown. Rice finished with 107 yards on 19 carries.
The strength of the defense looked tired, slow and out of position. Someone in the middle got fooled on TE Dennis Pitta's 29-yard catch-and-run to set up the second TD, and Lawrence Timmons failed to stay with Rice on his 6-yard TD catch. QB Joe Flacco was sacked only once and was under very little pressure. And James Harrison isn't sand-bagging, folks; he was fatigued and sucking wind.
DEFENSIVE BACKS F
The Steelers had no answer for Flacco, who completed his first six passes and passed for 162 yards and two TDs in the first half alone. He finished with 224 yards, 3 TDs and a 117.6 passer rating. On the first pass he faced in 2011, CB Bryant McFadden gave up a 27-yard TD to Anquan Boldin. S Troy Polamalu got beat on another. Props to CB Ike Taylor, who held WR Lee Evans without a catch.
SPECIAL TEAMS C-
It's probably the only unit on the team where it's difficult to assign blame, though even special teams were not without fault. Lardarius Webb did have a 37-yard return on the opening kickoff. And the Ravens completely surprised the Steelers with a fake extra-point after their fourth TD. But Daniel Sepulveda averaged 52.8 yards on four punts and Antonio Brown averaged 34.3 yards on three kick returns.
The first mistake was winning the coin toss and deferring, and it just went downhill from there. The defense had no clue in the first half, failing to stop Rice and losing receivers in coverage. The offense committed six of their seven turnovers in the second half, including the first three possessions. "They obviously had a better game plan than we had," said NT Casey Hampton. Indeed.
First Published September 12, 2011 12:00 am