Steelers Report Card: Game 11 vs. Ravens
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It was a sterling first start for Dennis Dixon ... until the overtime interception. He passed for one TD and scored on a 24-yard run for the go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter. Dixon surprisingly was efficient in the first half, completing 8 of 10 passes for 87 yards and no interceptions. He even made a nice play-action rollout on his 33-yard TD to Santonio Holmes in the first quarter.
Rashard Mendenhall had 42 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a 15-yarder, and finished with 90 yards on 22 carries. Willie Parker carried four times for 14 yards on the first TD drive and Carey Davis had a big 14-yard run on third-and-9 that allowed the Steelers to run out the clock in the first half. Mewelde Moore's holding penalty wiped out an 18-yard pass play.
Holmes ended his drought with his first touchdown catch since the season opener -- a 33-yarder to tie the score in the second quarter. It was one of five catches for 60 yards in the first half. He also had a nice 18-yard catch-and-run for first down wiped out by a penalty. Hines Ward had three catches for 47 yards, but he got 17 after contact on a 22-yarder, his longest.
Their most important job was creating some gaps to establish a running game, and they did that in the first half when the Steelers rushed for 70 yards on 19 carries. But a holding penalty by C Justin Hartwig wiped out Dixon's 31-yard scramble to the Ravens' 24 in the first quarter. All in all, a nice job to keep the pressure off Dixon, who was not sacked and threw just one interception, in overtime.
Ray Rice gouged them with runs of 16 and 19 yards, the latter setting up the first TD, and finished with 88 yards on 19 carries -- the most by an opposing back this season. But the Ravens also used Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain to combine for 134 yards rushing, the most against the Steelers this season. DE Travis Kirschke had one of four sacks and Brett Keisel was disruptive.
Their failure to tackle Rice after a fourth-down dump pass that gained 44 yards led to the FG that forced overtime. Lawrence Timmons got out of position on several big running plays, but he had a big 11-yard sack in the third quarter and a strip sack in the fourth quarter that Keisel recovered and led to a go-ahead touchdown. LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior also had big sacks.
More big pass plays for the second game in a row, and S Ryan Clark was involved again. CB William Gay got beat with a double move and Clark lost the ball on a 54-yard pass to Mark Clayton to set up the second touchdown. And they each missed tackles on Rice's 18-yard catch-and-run on third-and-12. Joe Flacco was a combined 8 for 8 for 125 yards on both of the first-half TD drives.
It probably should be considered a significant achievement that they didn't allow a kick return for touchdown after giving up four in the previous five games. But they allowed a 34-yard punt return by Chris Carr in the fourth quarter. Jeff Reed hit a big 44-yard field goal in the third quarter and Daniel Sepulveda had punts of 54 and 58 yards to give the Ravens a long field.
Mike Tomlin's biggest coaching decision was deciding to not play Ben Roethlisberger. Give credit to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians for not putting Dixon in uncomfortable situations and easing him into the game. His call on Dixon's 24-yard touchdown run completely surprised the Ravens. But the defense failed to protect a lead in the fourth quarter again, thanks to poor tackling.
First Published November 30, 2009 12:47 am