Joe Flacco had two turnovers that led to 10 Pittsburgh points, and his decision-making was slow and poor. He missed several open receivers, and a third-year quarterback shouldn't be taking sacks when he is out of the pocket. That's inexcusable.
Ray Rice looked good on that 14-yard touchdown run in the first half, but that was it for highlights. His cut-back style isn't good against a team that plays swarming defense like the Steelers, and his fumble led to a Pittsburgh touchdown. Backup Willis McGahee was tiptoeing into the holes in short-yardage situations.The only impressive player was fullback Le'Ron McClain.
Pittsburgh was very physical with the Ravens receivers, and Derrick Mason seemed to lose his cool early. Mason had no catches; Anquan Boldin had one. T.J. Houshmandzadeh and tight end Todd Heap were Flacco's only weapons. Boldin and Houshmandzadeh dropped key passes in crunch time.
In the first half, this group performed well in pass protection, which allowed the Ravens to turn a takeaway into points. But the second half was a disaster. The Ravens had 98 yards of total offense in the first half and finished with 126 for the game. Pittsburgh had five sacks. Say again? Only 126 yards of total offense?
This was one of the better games for the defensive line. Tackles Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Brandon McKinney controlled the action up front, and ends Cory Redding and Paul Kruger got pressure. The Ravens, though, got winded being on the field for so long.
The Ravens made the Steelers earn every one of their 71 rushing yards, and inside linebackers Jameel McClain and Ray Lewis cleaned up everything along the line of scrimmage. Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson kept constant pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but the Ravens needed more bodies and more oxygen.
Chris Carr played well, especially against the run. The Ravens' other cornerbacks, though, feared giving up the big play, and Pittsburgh took advantage by throwing underneath. There is no excuse for the Ravens' giving up the long pass at the end of the game, and it might be time to change safeties, teaming someone else with Ed Reed. The Ravens are in need of big, physical cornerback.
The Ravens got a lot of mileage out of their return units, averaging 18.5 yards per punt return and 19.5 per kickoff return. Lardarius Webb made an impact returning punts and kickoffs, but a holding penalty nullified a punt return for a touchdown. It wasn't a big day for Billy Cundiff as far as kickoffs, but punter Sam Koch was good again, averaging 53.8 yards. Jameel McClain and Tavares Gooden each had two special teams tackles.