Week 11 Game Thread: Baltimore Ravens

On the one hand, I feel like the pressure’s off — if the Steelers win without Big Ben it’s gravy. On the other hand, this ain’t the same Ravens we’re used to seeing. I’m on record as thinking Chaz Batch should get the start but Mike Tomlin’s track record is a little better than mine.

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  • David

    Man, the Bungels blast the Chefs on the road & the Ain’ts kill the Raiders on the road.
    Also, the Browns play The Cryboys tight & DEN almost blows the game @ home.
    Glad I don’t bet on games.

  • calig23

    Wow! Definitely didn’t expect Leftwich to scamper a bazillion yards for a TD

  • calig23

    Crap. Great 1st down catch by Wallace and he fumbles it. Ravens ball at the 12

  • calig23

    Good job by the defense to hold them to 3 points

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Despite Wallace’s fumble, the Steelers have come to play.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Adams’ pass protection blows chunks.

  • calig23

    Ike almost had an amazing interception, but he dropped it

    • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

      …surprise.

  • calig23

    Sigh….

  • calig23

    And now the defense, which had played very well so far, is starting to fall apart

  • calig23

    Defense gets bailed out a bit by the Ravens bumbling around- false start, flubbed snap, and then a missed FG

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Did Bruce Arians come back?
    Not too happy with the play-calling right now.

    • calig23

      Yeah, definitely not thrilled with that deep pass on 3rd and 1.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randy.steele.583 Randy Steele

    Unfortunately, Lefty is not looking very impressive.

  • djanyreason

    And that is why you don’t kick the field goal on 4th-and-2 from inside the 5.

    • David

      True, but Wallace needs tutoring on getting the feet down inbounds.
      And all our WRs need tutoring on how to hold on to the ball.

      • Cols714

        Can’t blame this game on Wallace. This one is on the complete inability of Leftwich to complete a fucking pass.

        • DJAnyReason

          Meh, he’s a backup QB for a reason, and is personally responsible for our only TD of the game. Tomlin choosing to kick the FG had more to do with the loss than any one other thing, IMO.

          • Cols714

            I was curious about the play call on 3rd and 2. I was thinking pound it up the middle twice there. I guess that Wallace did get open but it took a perfect pass and catch to get the TD. Wallace really should’ve been able to get his feet down there.

            That’s now Tenn, Oak, and Baltimore. Close games that could have easily gone the Steelers way. I’d feel much better if one of those was a win.

          • djanyreason

            Sure, but also Philly, NYG, and KC were close ones that went the Steelers way. It’d be nice if our close-game split were more balanced across Conferences, but going .500 in games decided by 4 points or less is more-or-less what one should expect for any team…

          • Cols714

            Good point.

      • Steve

        Wallace knows how to get his feet down. Remember the last play of the game vs. Green Bay a few years back? I think he’s just regressing. I hope we’re not witnessing the Limas-ization of a very talented receiver.

        Two gratuitous Sweed references in the same thread. You’re welcome.

    • David

      And in a way, the goat of the game is Wallace. Fumble, only one foot inbounds with plenty of room in the endzone.

  • Cols714

    Well that was some great defense!
    Too bad the offense was terrible. Maybe Leftwich isn’t that great of a backup QB.

  • David

    Sucks we lost, but you know what? Where was that defensive effort vs. DEN, OAK & TEN?
    We play D like that, we’re winning 10 games (CLE twice, CIN, SD), maybe 11 if DAL plays like they did today.
    The D played great today. Held them to two FGs.

    • Cols714

      Yep. And one of those FGs they started at the Steelers’ 15 yard line or so.

  • Cols714

    We win that one easy with Ben.

  • Cols714

    The defense played great all game.

  • David

    Lefty had a wide open Gilreath downfield, but puttered a ball to him. He is most definitely hurt and may join the injury list with Ben.

    • Cols714

      Yeah. The announcers were talking about almost the entire game. I’m really curious why, considering his ineffectiveness and his injury, that they didn’t go to Batch. If they had put Batch in did that mean Byron couldn’t have come back in?

      Really curious coaching there.

      • Sarah

        I’m with Ryan, I was hoping they’d go with Batch, even though he’s a potato chip and might die if Suggs breathes on him.
        When was the last time Lefty won a game as a starter?
        The 8th grade picnic?
        If Ben can’t play I hope we see Charlie next week.

  • David

    Even if we beat the Raisins in the rematch, our piss-poor AFC record (3-4 at the moment) will come to haunt us. We can only hope for Leftwich/Batch to win us the CLE game, Ben to get back, win 10-11 games, and try to get the home field for the 1st WC game.

    • djanyreason

      Honestly, we’re in surprisingly good shape for being down 2 games and 1 loss to Baltimore.

      Consider – in the remaining 5 non head-to-head games, the Steelers and Ravens share 2 opponents: SD and Cincy. Baltimore plays both on the road, while the Steelers play both at home. For the 3 different games, Pittsburgh has a home-and-away against the Browns and plays at Dallas; Baltimore hosts the Giants and Broncos, and plays at Washington.

      If the Steelers win at Baltimore (hardly a fait acompli, but still…), they could easily end up tied for the division lead, or win outright, simply because their remaining schedule is far gentler than Baltimore’s.

  • steelmets

    Tomlin HAS to go for it on 4th down, if Ben was playing i undertand, hes a great last drive qb. Have to get 7 there and if they did……They Win.

  • Cols714

    Lots of hand-wringing throughout the internets about the playcalling by Todd Haley.

    On a positive note, the defense looked downright dominating last night. Ike and Lewis were amazing, as was Keisel, Hampton, and Hood/Heyward.

    Just a great night for the defense. And Ravens fans, good luck with that huge contract that Joe Flacco is going to get. He looked terrible. As bad or worse than our injured backup QB.

  • David

    I’ve always disliked Thuggs, I mean Suggs. But he’s really mellowed out the past few years, and is, gulp, more likeable. Like this from Peter King:

    It was a classic Steelers-Ravens game. Ray Rice, 20 carries, 40 yards. Just 511 total yards of offense in 126 plays … everything a battle. Suggs got two pressures of Leftwich in his 70 plays — he played all but two defensive snaps. I was surprised to hear what he said when I asked him what this win, even against a depleted Steelers team, said about the Ravens. “It doesn’t say nothing,” Suggs said. “They got what we want–all the championships. Nothing means anything to us ’til we get those. We gotta catch ‘em in the ring race, then we’ll be able to talk.”

    But I won’t be sending him any Christmas cards again this year

    • Sarah

      Hmm. I hate him slightly less. Must be the Holiday Season….

  • Cols714

    Really? I’ve always like Suggs. He seems like the type of guy if he was on the Steelers we’d love him. I mean we all loved Joey Porter.

    • David

      For me, my dislike was summed up in the ’08 game where we thrashed them 35-7 (remember the good ole days?).
      He had a late hit on Ben, and whenever he made a play (when down 28-0 or something like that), he pranced around talking trash to our sideline.
      I believe Ryan posted a link to a YouTube video showing how either he or Scott did this.
      And this doesn’t include his T-shirt.

  • David

    BTW, anyone know how far that last pass to Gilreath would have been? If memory serves me correctly, it would’ve been about 55-60 yds and he threw it about 40. Correct?

    After this, I will obey SteelerBill’s 24 hr rule.

  • Sarah

    From Smizik’s Blog

    Jason La Canfora is reporting at CBSSports.com that the Steelers are concerned enough about Leftwich’s health that they will try out quarterbacks this week.

    Oy.

    • David

      I saw that. Palko is one of them, I believe I read.
      Anyhow, here’s what P’s me off: he consistently short-armed throws to wide open receivers, the two biggest, the 3rd down bouncer to Wallace and the vastly underthrown pass to Gilreath on the last drive. You could even make the case that on the pick, he underthrew Sanders.
      Of course he’s going to say he’s OK, but the coaches should have pulled him for Batch (20/20 hindsight).

  • Eric

    What a waste of a great effort by the defense. They essentially pitched a shut out, only to be let down by the offense and special teams.

    I know that people are upset about leaving Leftwich in when he was injured. I was wondering about it too. I can only assume that they thought Leftwich would be able to play through it. Then he took that killer shot on the 2nd to last drive. At that point it was desperation time and they probably figured the Batch’s arm wouldn’t be strong enough for the hail mary heaves that were needed.

    Beside, both Batch and Leftwich are so brittle they get injured within minutes of taking their first snap. If the Steelers had used Batch yesterday, then we’d be down three quarterbacks! (I’m only half kidding)

    • David

      Agreed. And here’s the only reason why I feel a bit better even though we lost and why I have hope for this season: our D showed up. Hopefully, the TO’s will come. We had two chances at picks, Ike’s on the long post and Mundy’s undercut of Smith’s route. Yep, I know what you’re thinking: two hands of stone DBs.

    • Steve

      Remember, Leftwich is one tough SOB. Recall the video of his college days in one game where his OL was literally carrying him to the LOS after each play due to his broken leg:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jzYMSiNHQ

      Yes, he had trouble chucking it most of this game – especially after the last hit – but the guy’s got guts, and he almost got it done. If Heath or Cotchery – preferably both – had held on, or if Mendy had gotten out of bounds, we might not be debating whether Chaz should have been in on the last drive. Both of those shots (on Heath and Cotch) by the Raisins’ D reminded me of Ryan Clark’s decleating of Willis McGahee in the AFCC. Or Limas’ block for Heath in the same game. The Evil Ones got the better shots in this game, and in our house, and that pisses me off almost as much as the loss does. Let’s see what happens two weeks hence.

  • Cols714

    Yeah, our QB has a dislocated rib that could kill him and now our backup QB has a couple of broken ribs. Our All-Pro saftey hasn’t played all year, our star OLB is playing at like 60%, two starting OL are out and at least one RB goes down each week and our highest paid WR hasn’t played in 2 weeks.

    Yet, we are still going to make the playoffs.

    • Eric

      And our other good WR has a nagging case of “DeSean Jackson” disease.

    • David

      Saw that from EB about Lefty’s ribs. Sucks.
      Love your optimism too. I share it b/c our D is playing well again. They just need to cash in on all our chances at TO’s.

    • Rob D

      AND we have our sunglasses on..and it’s nighttime.

      HIT it!! lol…

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZ3zZ-aWi6U

  • Eric

    By the way, last night was not a strong case for Mendenhall > Dwyer.

    • Rob D

      He was dancing…you can see the talent the guy has…but we have the kind of O-line where you make one cut and HIT the damn hole. Works for Redman and Dwyer. Mendy should follow suit.

  • David

    Holy Crap! Ed Reed is suspended for one game. Somewhere, Silverback is smiling (i.e., he’s not the only one being targeted by Goodell).

  • David

    Wow, now we’re supposedly signing Plaxico. Must mean Brown is also in bad shape.
    Has anyone ever remembered a more weird season with injuries?

    • Rob D

      The last 3 have been injury fests but this one feels extra special (in that “I ate too much birthday cake and feel like hurling kinda special). I am so blase about injuries at this point that I fully expect ANYONE who makes a nice play or shows promise or is the last man on the depth chart etc…will immediately be blasted into IR immediately. Ben, Redman, Cotchery, Leftwich are the latest…Woodley,Polamalu and Harrison early in the year. It’s just what happens. I say Next Man UP with detached nonchalance and burn another stick of incense in tribute to the injury Gods and their supreme ability to frig up our season. STeel sharpens steel! Thank you sir, may I have another…blah blah..
      We paid our dues..hope we get semi healthy and kick some ass down the stretch here.

  • Cols714

    Great, so Cotchery is now injured as well. This season is starting to look like a lost cause.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    So I guess we learned that at this point Leftwich + cracked ribs – the Ravens D = Flacco + healthy – the Steelers D.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    If we make the playoffs and Ben and two of Troy, Silverback or Woodley are healthy, I think we can beat any team in the AFC, even on the road. But we sure seem snakebit this year injury-wise.

    • Cols714

      I completely agree with this. The problem is going to be making that happen.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    On the plays in which I watched Cam Heyward yesterday, he looked better than Ziggy has when I’ve watched him this year.

    • Cols714

      He just looks bigger than Ziggy. Ziggy seems to get lost sometimes. The plays he does make he looks great and explosive. But I think that he tends to get engulfed by the OL too much.

      • Rob D

        Heyward should start at LDE..he’s way more of an impact player than Ziggy. But the Steelers are slow to push young guys into the lineup and I tend to side with them on that policy. Very happy with Cam’s progress.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Eddie B wrote that Baltimore is a “near mortal lock” to win the division. Actually, looking at the schedule, if we win our next two, I think we have a very good shot at winning the division.

    • David

      True. Stranger things have happened, like when we we’re 6-2 and then lost 5 straight.
      Here’s hoping this happens to the Raisins. Santa, you listening to my Christmas wish?

  • David

    What’s the big deal about Tomlin calling timeout with 2:04 remaining? It was Keisel’s fault for jumping offsides, just like he did on the 4th & G at OAK.
    Geez, it was 3rd & 2. We stop them, they punt, and we get the ball with 1:45-1:50 left.
    No timeout, we stop them after 2:00, call timeout with 1:53 remaining, they punt, and we get it with 1:45 remaining. And this business about forcing them to pass or run based on the timeouts? Hogwash.

  • Cols714

    I wish someone could explain to me what the heck has happened to Mike Wallace for much of this year. In the past he was really really good. He caught everything and made tons of big plays.

    This year it seems like everything he does is just a bit off. I don’t know why or how a great player has such a slump as this.

  • Rob D

    Plax is back and they apparently signed QB Brian Hoyer to a one year deal..From Eddie B and SChefter.
    Can’t see how Plax hurts us ..you can always use a big target and with Brown out..I think it’s a good gamble.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Less than 13 months ago, Bill Simmons ranked Brian Hoyer as the 24th best QB in the NFL, based on Mike Lombardi’s evaluation. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s too high. Let’s just say I’d rather have the guy he ranked 25th: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7160762/nfl-quarterback-power-rankings

  • Sarah

    Well there’s the usual wailing and gnashing over at Smizik, but honestly, I don’t disagree with any of this:

    Quote:

    I put this loss squarely on Tomlin for the following reasons:

    1) It was
    clear to anyone watching that Leftwich was hurt and there were at least a half
    dozen throws (none more critical then the 4th quarter bounce pass to a wide open
    Wallace)that confirmed that. I don’t care how little Batch might have
    practiced,he should have been in the game.

    2) 3rd and two at the
    Baltimore 4, you have to run the ball there on both 3rd and 4th down. Worse case
    you leave the Ravens at the 4 and the way the Defense was playing a stop was
    likely and who knows perhaps a game changing turnover.

    3)Blowing the
    time-outs proved amazingly important.Tomlin’s explanation in the news
    conferences as to why they used them was “because the play clock was running
    down”, really? How bout why it was running down?

    • djanyreason

      For the sake of making a full-throated defense of the “Smizik is always maximally wrong” position:

      1) Leftwich is a backup for a reason – he don’t throw so good. Saying his throws made it obvious he was hurt is 20-20 hindsight bunk. If you’re in the middle of a game, and Lefty is telling you he’s fine, just a little sore, no big deal, what are you gonna do? Send him to the locker room for X-Rays? That’ll take half an hour at least – in a close game, the difference between a healthy Leftwich and healthy Chaz Batch for a quarter could be the difference between winning and losing. Not to mention what happens if Charlie gets broken in half – as he is wont to do – while Leftwich is laying pads-off in an MRI in the locker room? Who’s your QB then?

      If its Ben, its a different story – he’s your franchise QB, so you don’t just run him back out there if he says he’s fine and you’ve got both Leftwich and Batch on the sidelines. Leftwich is a fungible commodity, so if he says nothing’s wrong, and you’re only a Chaz Batch away from running a no-QB offense, you’ve got to run him back out there.

      2) I agree that you run 2 plays, and that one of them should probably be a run. But you don’t run twice. That argument is the quintessential Bob Smizik ignoramus yinzer idea. Run the ball – its Steeler football! Bullshit. Its 2012, throw a pass. The 3rd down playcall was a great one, and almost worked. Its the 4th down call that was wrong.

      I also feel like if the Steelers had (correctly) gone for it on 4th-and-2 from the 4, Smizik would be writing how bad that was, and how you have to kick the FG. Just sayin’

      3) The TOs proved important, blowing them was bad. However, at the time, given how close the game was, it was the right thing to do. But, mostly, how is this a coaching problem? Leftwich didn’t get the O set fast enough, and got confused trying to read the D.

      Moreover, let’s give the other guys a little credit here. Baltimore has historically been a good defense, and as we all know, part of what makes a defense good is its ability to confuse the offense pre-snap. We see teams blowing TOs against our defense all the time – we shouldn’t be too shocked when it happens to our offense against another good (or, at least, well-schemed) defense.

      And, to top it all off, Leftwich is the backup, in an offensive system that’s in its first year in Pittsburgh. This is still a new system, and he doesn’t get the reps Ben does. Its not unreasonable to expect that he’ll be slow getting the O set once or twice.

      Its unfortunate, but its hardly unexpectable, unexplainable, or on the coaching staff’s head.

      • Sarah

        Er, well dj that wasn’t actually Smizik but a commenter….

        Anyway dunno if it was hindsight – even the generally clueless announcers were saying Lefty was obviously not right. Taking a player for ingame xrays not exactly unusual either.

        I really think it spoke to how incredibly little faith Tomlin has in Batch, which considering LEfty is like 0-8 in starts last 3-4 yrs is significant.

        Dunno about running twice either, but you don’t Fade with Lefty to Wallace. Actually Stan Savran had a good rant about that LOL. Maybe don’t run necessarily but don’t go all/nothing with Fade. RUn an option, or 3 WRs or anything.

        Really what I thought was most interesting about it was the juxtaposition with last month Tomlin’s going for the 80-yrd FG or whatever, leaving a short field, on a day when the D was horrendous.

        Then on a day when the D is killing it, and sticking BAL at their 2 or whatever could have paid dividends, he doesn’t go for it.

        Strange.

  • Sarah

    On an interesting note, in Tomlin’s presser yesterday, on the heels of maybe the best D performance in a year, he (seemed to) call out the D anyway….in response to a question about how well the D played, he came up with something pretty sour like “We’re not looking for feel-goods….we’re looking for some (paraphrasing here cos I don’t recall exactly) some big plays, some game changers, some short fields for the offense.” Translation: turnovers, I presume…..

    MEOW!!!

    • Rob D

      Translation: We need to win every game 10-3 from here on in….So pretend you’re the 76 Steelers.

  • David

    In typical media fashion, they’re reporting that Ben is out of the sling, he’s drinking coffee with his right hand, and talking on the phone using his right hand.
    In other news, Ben was reported to use the bathroom 5 times yesterday….

  • Cols714

    Off topic but I’ve been reading Behind the Steel Curtain, which is decent when Neal Coolong writes the posts. However there are now two front page posts about salary cap nonsense.

    Why is that Steelers fans spend so much time worrying about the salary cap when they’ve never lost a player of consequence because of the salary cap?

    Do other team also obsess over the salary cap?

    • Rob D

      I don’t get it either. We have an excellent staff who always find a way to keep the players that absolutely must be kept, dump the ones who don’t fit anymore etc. I truly suck at all things math and my eyes reflexively glaze over when I see columns of salary cap numbers but apparently this does NOT happen ever to Omar Khan. Which we should be grateful for. Photo may or may not be a flattering likeness.

      • David

        Which is why you never hear our players mimicking Kirk:
        Khaaaaaaaaannn! Khaaaaaaaannnnn!

  • Cols714

    So maybe Ben will be back sooner than we thought. That’d be nice. It’d also be nice to get a win this weekend vs the Browns.

    If I’m Cleveland, I blitz the crap out of Batch. The defense has to come up big this weekend.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Happy Thanksgiving! Fun fact of the day: in the last 5 games, the Steelers D has given up 4 TD drives of longer than 10 yards.