Tale of Two Teams - The 2010 Pittsburgh Steelers, Game 4

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 03: Charlie Batch #16 of the Pittsburgh Steelers is sacked by Haloti Ngata #92 of the Baltimore Ravens during the game on October 3 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Game 4 vs. Baltimore Ravens Final Score 14-17

 

General Game Overview:  Pittsburgh's Week 4 loss featured the best and worst sides of the Steelers. As disappointing as the final outcome was, fans were treated to another great chapter to the NFL's best modern rivalry. Looking to start 4-0 for the first time since 1979, Pittsburgh hosted the rival Ravens with a chance to go up two games over Baltimore at the quarter pole. With Ben Roethlisbeger serving the final game of his suspension, the Ravens loaded up the box and forced Charlie Batch to beat them with the passing game.  Batch and the offense pieced together several impressive drives, but two missed field goals and 11 penalties allowed the Ravens to hang around until the final minute when they stunned the Steelers with a game-winning TD. 

Injuries: Ryan Clark got his bell rung when he hit bruising 'back LeRon McClain, but he would retun to action. Brett Keisel was injured in the fourth quarter and would not return. 

Game Notables:

  • Baltimore won in Pittsburgh for the first time in five games. They had been 0-4 including playoffs dating back to 2006. 
  • The Steelers were held under 100 yards rushing against the Ravens for the tenth time in eleven games. 
  • No Steeler had more than two receptions. 
  • The Steelers defense, which had played lights out in its first three games, finally looked a bit vulnerable in the early stages of Week 4. Baltimore had a 12-play 48 yard drive that resulted in a missed Billy Cundif field goal, and a 8-play 83 yard touchdown drive on its opening two offensive possessions. The Steelers defense also surrendered a 14-play 48 yard field goal drive during the final five minutes of the first half.  
  • By intermission, the Ravens had amassed 205 yards of offense, yet had put up just 10 points. 
  • Rashard Mendenhall's 25 carries were a season high to date, and ultimately his second highest on the season. 
  • Offensively, it was a struggle outside of the two touchdown drives. 157 of the team's 210 offensive yards came on the two touchdown series. 
  • The Ravens had four drives in the third quarter. James Harrison forced and recovered a Willis McGahee fumble, intercepted Joe Flacco two drives later, and allowed just 40 yards and one first down. This was the Steelers defense we had quickly fallen in love with in the early stages of the new season. 
  • Jeff Reed had bounced back from a poor opener (3-of-5 FGs) to convert all five of his FG attempts in Weeks 2 and 3. Nobody could have expected Reed to struggle like he did, but the first Ravens game was certainly a turning point. Reed missed from 49 and 45 yards out. Just one of those kicks and the Steelers likley win and at worst go into overtime. 
  • Reed had missed just four FGs in 2009 (27-of-31). Through four games in '10, he had already missed four FGs (8-of-12).
  • Casey Hampton recorded his first and only sack of the year, forcing a fumble as he hit Joe Flacco. 
  • Ike Taylor recorded his first pick of the year during the defense's dominant third quarter.
  • Lawrence Timmons continued his torrid start to the year with 7 tackles and another 8 assists. Outstanding game by Timmons. 
Team Jeckyll Play(s) of the Week

This week's Jeckyll play of the week is actually a sequence of plays late in the game. The Steelers had just stuffed the Ravens in an inspiring goal line stand, and with just 2:40 left only needed one first down to close out the game. Granted, the Steelers were backed up against their goal line which is never easy to negotiate, but two false start penalties didn't help and they were forced to punt it away. Daniel Sepulveda's 47 yard punt was returned out to midfield. Alright, a flag! Must be holding or block in the back against Baltimore. Nope, defensive holding on Keyaron Fox. It was not the last time that Fox's infractions on special teams would hurt the Steelers. The Ravens had new life with the ball at the Steelers 40 with no timeouts but still 1:08 left on the clock.  

Three plays later, the Ravens were inside the redzone at the Steelers 18 with :42 seconds still remaining. Unfortunate mistake by Bryant McFadden on the game-winning touchdown by T.J. Houshmandzadeh. McFadden knows this, but you've got to give up the sideline in those situations rather than get beaten over the middle of the field. At worst, you give up the yardage and make the Ravens have to try to throw it into the endzone from inside the 10-15 yard line. The passing windows get awfully small inside the redzone, and because Baltimore didn't have any timeouts, they really wouldn't have had many options except for fade passes and different combination routes in the endzone. The Steelers had kept the Ravens from scoring the series before in that type of situation. In fact, it's rare that a week goes by that an NFL team won't come close to the game-winning or tying score, only to falter inside the redzone when they're very limited in what they can call.

Team Hyde Play(s) of the Week

 

The Steelers had looked pretty darn bad on offense in the third quarter. The Steelers gained just 25 yards in their three possessions, scoring 0 points thanks to Reed's second missed FG. Then on their first drive in the fourth quarter, the Steelers offense finally turned it on. Batch engineered a 93-yard scoring drive in 13 plays. It consumed just under seven minutes and gave the Steelers the lead, 14-10.  The drive was a perfect balance of run and pass -- seven Mendenhall rushes, six throws by Batch. The key play of the series was a 16-yard completion to Antwaan Randle El on a 3rd and 10 from the Baltimore 42. A 6-yard completion to Isaac Redman from the 13 put the Steelers inside the 10, and Mendy finished things off a play later with a seven-yard score. 

 

Final Thoughts: The Steelers Week 4 loss was definitely disappointing, as it looked like they might navigate the first four games of the season without Ben Roethlisberger without a single loss. But penalties, inconsistent offense, and a late-game meltdown that reminded Steeler Nation of '09, were too much to overcome. 

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