I apologize, I'm going to have to cut the second half review a little shorter than usual. The Injury has taken a good chunk of time today, as well as sucked all the fun out of Steelers/Ravens Week and I'm trying to get things moving forward again. - nc
It's always fun to give proper noun titles to things. It's kind of funny that Ben Roethlisberger's shoulder injury would earn The Injury status over The Accident, The Appendectomy and The Foot, but considering, those three ailments combined forced him to miss all of one game, and The Injury appears to be keeping him out a bit longer than that, it gets top-billing.
His replacement, Byron Leftwich, isn't just The Back-Up. His rotary phone-like throwing motion gives him the unique distinction of being associated forever with associated with the term "throwing motion."
To lay it out in the open, Leftwich looks horrendous throwing a football. Not everyone gets to look like Marino, mind you, but cripes alrighty, he rivals Tim Tebow as the other guy in the league who honestly looks like he's throwing with his non-dominant arm.
Leftwich has some gunpowder in his blunderbuss though. I think he may have thrown through the Steelers receivers a few times.
Speaking of them...a very disappointing game all around by the Steelers wide receivers. Emmanuel Sanders made one play, Jerricho Cotchery made one play, Mike Wallace made one play.
Wallace, three catches on eight targets. Sanders, two catches on seven targets. Cotchery, one catch on four targets. Steelers tight ends, six catches on six targets (Heath Miller four, David Paulson two).
We bagged on the Steelers defense as we usually do when another team actually gains a few yards. It wasn't a great performance top to bottom, but it was more what seemed like a lack of upper body strength in fighting off the zone blocking from the Chiefs. The Steelers were high in their punches, which is commonly indicative of getting beaten off the snap, but they weren't fighting through the Chiefs' initial punch, either.
Give the Chiefs a lot of credit for that, though. They have one of the best - if not the best - pairs of run-blocking tackles in the league with Branden Albert and Eric Winston. But the problem wasn't just with the edge, and it wasn't just LaMarr Woodley, Ziggy Hood and Casey Hampton. Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote are usually much stronger than that, but both seemed too hesitant at times. When Peyton Hillis rushed for four yards on third and three in the third quarter, Foote and Timmons run a fire blitz, and a hole was exposed for Foote to get through and at least slow Hillis down a bit. In one frame, Foote has an angle to the ball carrier and Ryan Clark is shooting in from the next gap down. In the next frame, Foote is falling over, and Clark whiffs on the tackle. The next frame, Woodley can't muscle off Winston in time to make a competitive effort on Hills.
Then Hillis is going for the first down, and knocking cornerback Ike Taylor a little woozy in the process.
If we take nothing else away from this game, let it be this; Expect the Ravens to run isolation stretch zone off the right side of the Steelers defensive line often. Even if they have a rookie right tackle and not Eric Winston, they are going to see right away whether Clark and Foote (the Steelers top two run defenders and leading tacklers) are ready to knife into the line to make plays on Ray Rice - who's considerably faster than Peyton Hillis.
The Steelers did stop this running style fairly often, it's not as if they were completely gashed on the ground - they only had one carry over 10 yards. It needs to be better against the equally explosive Ray Rice, but there's something to be said about playing the same kind of running style two weeks in a row.
Maybe the Steelers will be a little more prepared this time.