Tons to talk about in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-20 Week 9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, but a few quick-hitting talking points to begin the conversation.
- Firstly, congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens on the win. That was a great football game. The Steelers really were overmatched heading into the contest, and their personnel deficiencies manifested themselves at various points throughout the game. As they have done so many times before, the Steelers came up huge in the second half, putting the pressure squarely on Joe Flacco and the Ravens in the final minutes after Baltimore had controlled the flow of the game all evening. Finally though, Flacco and the Ravens delivered the final punch with a 92-yard touchdown drive to win it in the final seconds.
- Welcome back James Harrison! 3 sacks and 1 forced fumble in No. 92's first game back in a month. LaMarr Woodley has been outstanding this past month in Harrison's absence, but Deebo's presence on Sunday night was a clear reminder of how dominant and disruptive he is.
- Bad mistake by Ryan Clark on the game-winning touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. Clark though played great football all night, so I personally think it's unfair to pile on the team's leading tackler for the inopportune error.
- There's no denying that William Gay has played sound football for much of this season, but in numerous one-on-one situations against Ravens wide receivers, Gay was beaten regularly. More on the play of the secondary later.
- 14-of-21 on 3rd down., Talk about efficiency for the Ravens. Definitely be concerned if you're a Steelers fan, but also realize that sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the opposition. I saw nothing from the Steelers defense really that makes me overly concerned about how they'll hold up down the stretch.
AWESOME job by the Steelers' offensive line. More on this later, but man did Sean Kugler's men play well up front. Roethlisberger was sacked just once and had a comfortable pocket to operate all evening. Give the OL an A for their efforts in Week 9.
- I'm sure we'll touch on some of the other points of this game all week -- from the officiating, to the clock management to this or that else -- but the bottom line in my mind is that we're cheering for a Steelers team this year that's got all the pieces to make a return trip to the Super Bowl. On last week's Thursday podcast, I said I thought the Steelers would meet the New York Jets in the AFC Championship again this January, and after Sunday's developments, I'm perfectly comfortable sticking with that. Kudos to the Ravens for one hard-fought win for now; here's to hoping we'll get to see if they can complete the hat trick in January and finally get over the hump when the marbles are really at stake.
Fabulous, fabulous football game -- a perfect example of why we tune in and care so much each and every week.