Post-Game Notebook Points Out Several Missed Chances For Both Teams

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 06: Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers questions a penalty on the field against the Baltimore Ravens during the game on November 6, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

We often dictate the quality of a game based on the score. We also determine too much of a quarterback's ability in his statistics. 

Both teams failed to claim a lot of plays that would have affected the outcome of the game. Ravens QB Joe Flacco was Joe Montana on third down, and Aaron Brooks on first and second down. In the end, he made the throws he needed to make. 

Some notes from one of the most gut-wrenching regular season losses your team will ever see. 

 

  • Credit to Ravens coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Two games against Pittsburgh, two wrinkles before unseen: In Week 1, it was the zone stretch runs, and in Week 9, it was lining FB Vonta Leach out wide, and motioning him back behind the QB. It forced the Steelers to show their intentions, and gave Flacco a long time to look at it. 
  • Whether that's a hold on Ravens WR Torrey Smith depends solely on which team you're rooting for. Final word, if Gay wasn't in the lane Rice was running in, it wouldn't have been called. But he was. 
  • Very classy of Rice to smash into the older lady in the yellow jacket after the touchdown. Damn her for standing there. 
  • Interference on the first drive on Gay, one close on Taylor, set the tone for the rest of the game. Harbaugh is one of the few coaches in the league grasping the full advantage offenses have in today's NFL. Throw the ball high in the air, the odds of a defensive player getting flagged for interference, contact or holding during the receiver's route, or a hit that an official will see as helmet-to-helmet, are enormous. Not to take anything away from Baltimore, but the league is set up for the offense. Three pass interference flags (two were declined) and a helmet-to-helmet penalty all the result of Flacco simply throwing the ball high. 
  • A nod to another fine kick return team performance. Isaac Redman with a great block on Antonio Brown's first kick return, he makes one guy miss, he's gone. 
  • No surprise to see Baltimore leading the league in takeaways. They have a better feel and understanding of where passing lanes are than any other defense in football. 
  • This can't be said enough (even though I'm sure we'll attempt to), James Harrison was unstoppable in this game. His conditioning held him back at the end, but the one and only time they tried to block him with a tight end was a laughable failure. He whipped McKinnie pretty much the entire game. 
  • This Torrey Smith kid is a hot mess. He's like a shorter Limas Sweed. He looks like he has no confidence in himself, and his complete lack of body control ruins the chances he gives himself to make plays with his speed. 
  • Oh, and so is William Gay. Coaches on both sides are chewing Rolaids watching film of those two today. 
  • Keenan Lewis is clearly the better pass defender of the two. Credit to Flacco on a great underthrown pass, and Smith's fleeting ability to adjust to the ball in the air, Lewis had great coverage. Is it time to start discussing another change in starting cornerbacks? 
  • All teams work on hands drills with their defensive backs. It's beyond ridiculous how the Steelers cannot come up with interceptions in any circumstance. 3rd-and-5, Flacco tries to force a pass into Dickson. Gay turns around, cutting off the underneath. The ball hits him right off his hands, goes 20 feet in the air. When it hits the ground, there are three Steelers defenders within a few feet of it. The Steelers have dipped into historic territory with their lack of takeaways, at some point they should be regressing back to the mean. Right? 
  • There's Redman again, great pick-up of a blitzing Pollard. Just stoned him where he stood, allowing a nice 13 yard completion to Miller. That's just great football. 
  • It's rare to say this, but Collinsworth completely misdiagnoses Brown's 32-yard reception on 2nd-and-8. The Ravens picked up perfectly on what the Steelers were trying to do - slip screen to Cotchery off a fake pass deep. It froze Ed Reed, who was playing approximately 40 yards off the ball. Cotchery was blanketed by Ray Lewis, and the rest of the defense sold out on the potential deep route to the right side. Brown was all alone on the left side. Nice recognition by Roethlisberger. 
  • Ray Lewis will be $15,000 poorer after this game. His helmet-to-helmet hit knocked Ward out of the game and it was oddly un-penalized. 
  • This is what you gotta love about Ward, though...he has a bum ankle last week, and misses the game. He suits up in this one, gets cracked in the head by Lewis, and is clearly on another planet when he gets up. He does, though, have the presence of mind to start limping, and even stop to favor his ankle - giving off the impression that's what he hurt on the play.
  • I didn't recognize Kapinos at all. Has he been working out with Ed Hochuli or something? He looks like he got released, got a tattoo and went Steve Lattimer in the weight room. 
  • Jah Reid could be my favorite name in all of sports. 
  • Flacco just makes you scratch your head sometimes. No pressure, wide open receiver, misses him by seven yards. Great quote from Baltimore Sun reporter Mike Preston: "The way to beat Flacco is to make him think, and the Steelers didn't do that." 
  • I got Smith with four drops in this game. Wes Welker led the NFL in 2010 with 11 all of last season. The most contact he had all game was him hitting his own chest, signifying that was on him. And yes, I'm aware of the third-to-last play of the game. Just sayin'...Hot Mess...
  • What a beautiful spin move Worilds put on Michael Oher to force pressure on 3rd-and-10 with 5:53 left in the second quarter. Unfortunately, though, Worilds bit on Flacco's pump fake and quit on the play, otherwise he would have sacked him. Either way, Flacco just tossed in the general direction of one of this tight ends. Imagine that. That may be play of the game just for Worlilds giving me a huge amount of confidence in his future.
  • Four pass attempts in the red zone. Three to Cotchery, with one completion, and a sack on the fourth. A running game sure is nice to have sometimes. 
  • Opening drive of the second half was a thing of beauty, until...yeah. What a killer INT. 
  • Amazing catch by Brown...and yes, I realize I'm starting to sound like Dan Dierdorf. In three weeks, he's become the focal point of the offense. And I'm ok with it.
  • It's really unfortunate Heath Miller has to compete against wide receivers for a Pro Bowl bid. He's having perhaps his finest season, but everyone will check off on a "tight end" who plays out wide on 75 percent of his plays. I'm looking at you, Rob Gronkowski
  • The Steelers just worked the Ravens over in the second half in all three phases of the game. Completely beat them down. How did Pittsburgh lose this game...HOW?!? 
  • Nice move, Baltimore. Ayanbadejo was about as injured as I was on that play. Classy. He wasn't even favoring anything, he just laid there for a minute, got up and walked off the field. 
  • Jameel McClain cracked Miller in the head in last year's Sunday Night game. Looks like he earned it again this year with a punk hit on Brown. No penalty again, but they're really trying to eliminate helmet-to-helmet hits. Do you really think any player in this game wouldn't rather take $15,000 and make a play over a 15 yard penalty? 
  • Wallace won't be out-done by Brown. Not sure to whom Ben threw that pass, but I do know I was yelling so loud my dog ran away from me. 
  • It's times like these you can just hear the gears struggling to work in Flacco's head. He has all day on first down to make something - anything - happen. What does he do? He throws the ball to Rice, who's wearing a Keisel suit. Coverage was good, but so was protection. Why not move around and see if something develops? If nothing, throw it away? This guy completed like 80 third down passes...I just don't get it. 
  • Rice wants nothing to do with a blitzing Harrison. Flacco is stepping up in the pocket, Rice bails just as Harrison begins his leap. Flacco soils himself and tosses it somewhere close to Ohio. 
  • David Johnson dropped a first down pass (???) with 4:21 left. It was at this point I felt sick. This was going to turn downhill. 
  • Of course, everyone will rip Arians, but frankly, he didn't call the play for an incomplete pass. Johnson - or any receiver - will make that catch 99 times out of 100, and the Steelers are then looking at 2nd-and-2, probably. Instead, they gave Baltimore a free timeout, a free down and didn't move anywhere. Even with Redding's penalty, the Steelers end up running a bizarre set of plays, and again, have the clock stop off an incompletion. 
  • Then there's the 4th down fiasco...Tomlin said after the game it was his fault. Are we punting? Kicking a field goal? Going for it? Planning our post-game meal? From this point on, no one appears to have any clue what they are doing. 
  • Great punt, everything should have lined up well enough to end this game. The Steelers seemed completely lost on this last series. Flacco threw well, not taking anything away from him, but ye gads, Pittsburgh wasn't  even set on the line of scrimmage one of those plays. A ball falls in front of Polamalu, one clangs off Foote's hands...Flacco made some great throws, there were some big drops but he left a few turnovers hanging on the edge. 
  • The ironic part is if Roethlisberger, the more renowned late game QB was in that spot, and he made some of those throws, the Ravens would have picked them off. No doubt in my mind. 
  • Smith again wide open, again fails to make the play. Yes, he's now officially Shorter Limas. I even told the wife after that there's no way he's not going back to him. He's gotta catch ONE of these...
  • And there it is. A winnable game for both teams, a classic game in many ways, a sloppy game in just as many ways. Time to move on. 
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