After every football game, there are players who play to a specific level which could have them labeled as "Winners". There are also players who play well below the standard of expectation. They would be dubbed "Losers". See who were the "Winners" and "Losers" following the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
DeAngelo Williams - 17 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, six catches for 53 yards in the air, not much more could have been asked of the Steelers' backup running back. Williams continues to prove to be the most valuable free agent acquisitions.
Heath Miller - five catches for 49 yards and several key blocks that helped spring Williams on running plays. Miller was Mr. Reliable again, albeit in another loss.
David DeCastro - Several key seals helped create opportunities for Williams to spring free for his 100 yard performance. He continues to be the anchor of the offensive line in the absence of Maurkice Pouncey.
Ben Roethlisberger - Normally I would say that Roethlisberger found some way to keep his team in the game, but today he did the opposite. His two interceptions were poor throws into the hands of defenders that kept the Ravens' hopes alive throughout the game. While many are quick to point to Mike Tomlin for poor performance against lesser opponents, but Roethlisberger is just as guilty a culrpit with the way that he performs in those games. Much like his letdown of a performance against the New York Jets last year, Roethlisberger had opportunities to utilize his playmakers after the defense kept the team in the game but failed to do so. Ben looked like he was not able to make pre-snap reads and identify what the Ravens were doing all game long, something that he had done against the top two defenses in the previous weeks.
Martavis Bryant - Two key drops from Bryant that would have been drive sustaining plays. While he was interfered with on the big third down pass of the Steelers' final drive, the ball hit his hands. If a receiver wants to be a top threat, he has to make those kind of plays when his team needs him.
Lawrence Timmons - The defensive line seemed to dominate their portion of the line of scrimmage, but too often we saw breakdowns in the second level of the defense that allowed for the Ravens to gain 121 yards on the ground.
Jarvis Jones - Despite his one pass defensed, Jones was not the enforcer Pittsburgh needed to help them beat the ground game. He also failed, yet again, to provide pressure on a quarterback. While the past years have been times for him to grow into his role on the defense, it has become ever more so difficult to argue that he was not a bust.
Coaching Staff - I do not buy into the notion that Mike Tomlin had his team overlook this game. When I see Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, Steve McLendon, DeAngelo Williams, David DeCastro and several others fighting tooth and nail to get their jobs done, that shows me that it is not a whole team issue of players overlooking a team with a poor record. If you were watching the live broadcast, safety Mike Mitchell came back from what looked like an injury several times during the game and towards the end of the fourth quarter had to be physically blocked by a member of the Steelers' staff to prevent him from returning to the game after what appeared to be his third or fourth time leaving the field for injury that game alone. The team wanted very badly to win today against its hated rival in M&T Bank Stadium and have a shot to lock up the playoffs next week, but there were other things to point at when it comes to coaching.
The offense seemed to not call plays that played to their strengths early in the game. While Williams did have a good game of 100 yards, by taking the ball out of Roethlisberger's hands you prevent him from developing the rhythm he had going with his receivers the past six weeks. Even beyond that, the offense seemed too often to line up in heavy formations when it was obvious the team would run, and spread formations with no running option in the backfield when it was obvious they would pass. This makes it less difficult for any defense to key off on what you are trying to do and for them to execute their scheme while knowing what you are trying to do.
Defensively the Steelers appeared to start the game much like they did against the Denver Broncos last week. Too many open wide receivers and easy reads for Ryan Mallett, who had been with his team for all of twelve days, and allowing them to make simple plays for first downs. Even when the defense seemed to get it together early in the second half, it seemed mind-boggling that the defense refused to send more than four pass rushers in situations when they knew the Ravens had to target a deep threat and force Mallett to make a quick read and throw.
All in all, it's a team loss with the Steelers only having themselves to blame.