Since Gretz is a season-ticket holder, he’s going to take a look at the debauchery and insanity that takes place in the Heinz Field stands after every home game he attends.
As I pointed out on Steelers Lounge Podcast #7 (download it!), if you would have told me on Saturday that the Steelers would have lost the way they did — allowing a game-winning Joe Flacco-to-TJ Houshmandzadeh score with 30 seconds to play — followed by a Ray Lewis interception to secure the win, I probably would have said the hell with it and avoided football for the week.
But at the end of the day, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would have been. You’re always disappointed when your team loses, especially at home and to your top rival, but you have to look at this thing from a big-picture point of view, and right now, I’m quite happy with where this team is. And how can you not be? That doesn’t take away from the frustrating nature of Sunday’s loss, or the fact that it’s still a loss, but, as Bill Cowher said one time (or 400 times), “there’s a fine line…”
On to the game…
– Charlie Batch didn’t play a terrible game in the sense that he didn’t make the big mistake (I don’t consider the interception at the end a big mistake, as it was unlikely the Steelers were going to roll 85 yards in 25 seconds, anyway), but he definitely missed a lot of open passes, and seemed to be a bit indecisive at times.
The most obvious examples — for me, anyway — were the two plays in the first half where he had at least seven seconds to stand in the backfield, and seemed to be unable to decide whether he should tuck it and run, or wait for a receiver to break open.
And when I say miss open passes, I don’t mean just that he overthrew or underthrew guys, but simply didn’t identify who the open man was and get the ball to him.
In fairness, we often forget as fans/bloggers/analysts/maniacs that there are two teams on the field, and on Sunday, as much as we loathe them, the other team was a pretty good one. Still, not a very good showing from Batch overall.
– Mike Wallace was running open pretty much all day. I like that they took some chances down field with him, but it seemed like there were a few plays where they missed the opportunity to get the ball to him.
There was one pass in the fourth quarter where the Ravens jumped offsides, giving the Steelers a free play, where Batch went deep for Wallace who had a good three or four steps on Ladarius Webb, only to have the ball be underthrown allowing Webb to make a desperation leap and knock the pass away. In Tampa Bay that ball falls into Wallace’s hands for six … against Baltimore, well, it doesn’t.
I have to imagine that when Ben Roethlisberger gets back in the lineup they’ll be able to get a few more passes to Wallace when he’s running free in the secondary.
– I have no problem with the Steelers play-calling after the goal line stand. With the way Batch was playing, and the fact Baltimore was out of timeouts, I think you have to run as much time off as possible. There were way too many things that could have gone wrong letting Batch throw. In the end, things still went wrong, but I don’t mind the approach. If Ben is in the game, I might consider a pass. If they were anywhere else on the field I might consider a pass. But with Batch backed up in the shadows of his own end zone? No way.
Actually, I thought the far worse play-calling sequence was right after the Willis McGahee fumble that set the Steelers up inside the Baltimore 35-yard line. With Ben, the Steelers will go deep in that situation and try to score as quickly as possible. On Sunday, they went with an end around on first down (for no gain), a two-yard run from Mendenhall and a sack on third-and-long. Didn’t like that at all. At least after the Ike Tayor pick (how about that?) they took some shots.
– I only have one thing to say about Jeff Reed…
If you’re going to complain about your contract, and everything else that’s bothering you all offseason, you have to hit those kicks. Especially when you’re making the average salary of the five highest paid kickers in the league.
The argument for keeping Reed is that he makes tough kicks, big kicks and knows how to kick in Heinz Field … if he’s not going to make those kicks (and he’s missed four at Heinz Field in two games already this season, including three that were potential game-changers) then he’s not really doing much for the Steelers. You can’t blame the distance, the field, the conditions or anything, really, because all of those arguments were the reasons for keeping him.
I know, blaming the kicker is always an easy way out, and the Steelers offense needed to produce more with the opportunities it was given on Sunday, but, again, Reed is still paid to make those kicks. His track record gives him a longer leash than most kickers, so he’ll definitely have a chance to make up for it at some point.
– There was perhaps no one in the stadium more excited than me when Antwaan Randle El went up and hauled in that 40-yard pass in the first quarter. I’ve always been a huge fan of No. 82, and when he returned to the Steelers this offseason I dusted off the ole jersey and started wearing it again on game day. And I’m not going to lie, I was feeling a little silly wearing it every Sunday when he hadn’t really done anything yet.
– Speaking of jersey’s … Jack Lambert No. 58′s were freakin’ everywhere. It’s usually a popular one, but Sunday was loaded with them.
– Some not-so-popular ones…
And Maurkice Pouncey is getting some love (and for good reason)…
– Honestly, it was a pretty tame crowd for Ravens games standards (this is usually the one game where, for better or worse, Heinz Field turns into the Roman Colosseum), at least from where our seats are.
One thing that wasn’t a disappointment…