Can we please hit the reset button and try that again? The Pittsburgh Steelers stumbled out of the gate in their 2011 season opener, and the Baltimore Ravens were more than prepared to take advantage. Thanks to seven turnovers on offense and 385 yards allowed defensively, the Steelers were easily handled by the Ravens, 35-7.
We'll have more reaction and analysis on the embarrassing defeat later toady and early this coming week, but a few quick talking points that tell most of the story:
- The Steelers defense uncharacteristically could not get off the field on third down. Baltimore converted 7-of-16 third down opportunities, including 4-of-5 on one TD drive early in the second half that essentially sealed the deal.
- Seven turnovers? Hard to not get dusted when you protect the ball that poorly. Roethlisberger accounted for five of the seven giveaways -- three interceptions and two lost fumbles. More on Big Ben's performance later. The turnover that really allowed the game to get away from Pittsburgh was the fumble by Rashard Mendenhall on the first drive of the second half. Mendenhall wasn't entirely to blame though. A bobbled snap allowed Haloti Ngata to meet Mendenhall basically the second he received the handoff. The 330+ pound Ngata dislodged the ball and Baltimore was in business in Pittsburgh territory. It went downhill from there.
- One meaningless sack by LaMarr Woodley. That's all the pressure the Steelers got on Joe Flacco all day. That may have been the most alarming aspect of the loss. The Ravens revamped offensive line totally stonewalled the Steelers' pass rush, and when Flacco has time to scan the field for Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin or one of his new tight ends, he's going to make the throws. And he did. Flacco was 17-of-29 for 224 yards and 3 TDs.
- As disappointing as the loss was, it is just one game. They all count the same. Pittsburgh has work to do and Seattle coming to town next week should be just what the doctor ordered to help get this team back on track. More soon.