Ravens Fast Five: Typical Ravens/Steelers Battle
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Violent game. As per usual when it’s with the Steelers.
It sure looked like Ravens vs. Steelers out there, even though both teams have seen major turnovers on their rosters in recent years. For the Steelers, Mason Rudolph was knocked out cold by Earl Thomas. His future uncertain as concussions can last a day or weeks. James Washington exited the game with a shoulder injury. For the Ravens, Tony Jefferson’s season ends as he tore an ACL and “probably more,” Coach John Harbaugh said postgame. Marquise Brown left the game with an ankle injury but would return. Mark Andrews left for a short time as well but returned. We saw Hayden Hurst take about three hits on one play where tried to hurdle some Steelers defenders. Lamar Jackson with a nasty stiff arm to TJ Watt.
Ray Lewis used to always say that if you weren’t bruised up after a Ravens/Steelers game, that you didn’t play. By the looks of it, a lot of guys played. You know what makes those bumps and bruises feel better? A WIN!
The best rivalry in the league continues. Yet another three point game. It was the 6th OT meeting between the two. The Ravens are now 5-1 in those games.
Inactive players tell me John Harbaugh is fed up with the defense.
You can start with the release of Tim Williams this week after practically no-showing for four weeks. Leading the list of inactives this week was Kenny Young and Anthony Averett. Josh Bynes was signed earlier in the week and starts in this game while Young watches in his workout gear. Bynes would get and interception on the Steelers second drive of the game. Averett gives way to Maurice Canady who was activated last week and looks to be active some more as the secondary loses Jefferson.
I gotta say when it comes to the Ravens over the years, when there is a problem, it usually gets addressed. Sometimes later than we like. But sometimes immediately. I applaud the message being sent. Two weeks in a row of giving up 500+ yards is not going to be allowed. The defense allowed a solid 269 today. Part of that is the Steelers quarterback situation. Most of that is due to holding the ball for 39 minutes and not allowing the Steelers to be out there enough to score more. Good thing too in this close contest.
Why were the Ravens so conservative on offense?
Conflicting reports from the offense now this year. They preach wanting to be aggressive. But why so many check down passes? Why run the ball from your own 1-yard line on 3rd and 10, which was dangerously close to a safety that would have cost you the game? This was not an aggressive, or creative offensive game plan. I was beside myself when they had the ball with 1:36 left in the first half, two timeouts, on their own 11. Lamar Jackson designed run for 8 yards. Mark Ingram for 3 yards, 1st down. No urgency. Jackson takes a sack. No timeout taken. No urgency. Jackson tosses up a floater of a pass, to somewhere, easily picked off by Pittsburgh. Luckily the defense held them to a FG going into the half.
The Ravens had plenty of time to make a drive there. They start off with drives that go FG, TD, TD. Then questionable INT where defensive pass interference appeared to occur. Then punt. You had your way three times out of five with the Steeler defense. Why stop? If you want to run the clock down and get to the half, why the weak pass attempt? It was weak. Almost as if it was a halfhearted effort to throw it away.
They wanted to establish the run. Great. I’m all for it as the Steelers are not one of the good run defenses, they bolstered their pass defense adding Minkah Fitzpatrick. It was a smart game plan and the installed script to start the game was on point. But they didn’t build anything off the run. They took hardly any shots down the field. It took 3 quarters to see a play action pass which Is what running the ball a lot sets up. Instead the Steelers defense just teed off on the running backs after some early success.
One week we’re talking about how Lamar is airing it out with great success. The next it’s analytics driving the aggressiveness. Through Week 5, I don’t know what is going on. The passes are basic. The runs are basic. It was, Mornhinweg like today. Minus the 50 inefficient passes. Only 28 of them.
This game meant more than many people are going to admit.
3-2 is far and away better than 2-3, and 0-2 in the division. The Ravens will be favored at home next week when they host the Bengals (0-5). You want that win to get you to 4-2, not to get you back to treading water at 3-3. The week after will be a tough test in Seattle before their bye week. For sake of argument, 4-3 going into the bye is tolerable. 3-4 would be hard to swallow. Looming after the bye is the Patriots. Provided the Patriots will be the favorites then, if the Ravens don’t pull the upset, you could be staring at 3-5 at the mid-point. Meaning you have to go 7-1 to have a real shot at the playoffs. The Ravens had to do that last year. I don’t want to play that game again. 4-4 at the mid-point, okay, you have to pick up a couple games in the second half of the season.
The win today allows the Ravens the chance to realistically being 5-3 at the mid-point. A good team would win two of vs. CIN, @ SEA, vs. NE. That puts you on pace for 10-6 and 4-2 in the division.
I know it’s early. But when you get the Steelers on the road not playing their best ball, you have to take advantage. The Ravens almost put themselves in a deep, deep hole considering who is coming up. A loss today would have given you zero room for error in the coming weeks.
No excuse next week.
The Bengals come to town at 0-5. No A.J. Green, the Raven killer. No John Ross, the young speed demon. You are home. The Bengals are 0-5. Need I say more? The only team in the AFC that has allowed more points than the Bengals are the Dolphins. Need I say more? The Bengals offensive tackle duo of Bobby Hart and Andre Smith might be one of the worst tandems in the league. The Ravens pass rush better show up. The Steelers sacked Andy Dalton 8 times on Monday Night Football a week ago. Need I say more? Don’t get caught looking ahead to Seattle, or the bye week. Handle the teams you should destroy.
Must be 4-2 this time next week.
Bonus Thought: Justin Tucker is worth his weight in gold.
Game tying, game winning FGs, in the open end of a tough stadium to kick in. On wet, chewed up turf. Not the nice stuff. His sky kickoffs and the kick-off coverage, pinning the Steelers inside the 20 often. That’s just next level right there.
Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370, and FOX45. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he can be reached at [email protected]