Did anyone else expect to see Ben Roethlisberger go all Jim Valvano and run across the Heinz Field turf desperately looking for Charlie Batch after Sunday’s game?
Aren’t Batch and Roethlisberger supposed to engage in a minute-long bro hug whenever Shaun Suisham kicks a last-second field goal in a Pittsburgh Steelers’ win over the Baltimore Ravens?
Suisham’s 42-yard field goal as time ran out gave the Steelers a 19-16 win over the Ravens Sunday. The game ended the same way the last game between these teams ended, only without the impassioned embrace between Roethlisberger and Batch. The latter quarterbacked the Steelers to that victory in place of an injured Roethlisberger.
No one knew it at the time, but that emotional snapshot last December in Baltimore captured the moment in which things were as good as they would get for the Steelers. They improved to 7-5, but lost three of their last four and missed the playoffs.
So if it turned out that 7-5 was no reason to get excited last year, let’s curb our enthusiasm about the Steelers’ 2-4 record this year.
If someone said in August the Steelers would be 2-4 after six games, that pundit would be the target of thrown objects such as tomatoes and bottles of Iron City.
Therefore, here’s the obligatory public service announcement saying that the Steelers still have a long way to go. They must go 8-2, maybe 7-3, in their remaining 10 games to have a chance to make the playoffs.
That’s not going to happen if the Steelers defense doesn’t force more turnovers and get to the quarterback more often.
After a week’s reprieve, the Steelers are again subject to the Turnover Futility Watch. They forced none on Sunday and have just two this season. The 2011 Steelers are the only other team in NFL history to force no more than two turnovers through the first six games, according to Pro Football Reference. That team went 12-4, but was knocked out of the playoffs by Tim Tebow, a calamity that becomes more infamous by the day as Tebow’s NFL career fades into memory.
As far as sacks go, LaMarr Woodley was the only Steeler to take down Joe Flacco Sunday. The Steelers have eight sacks this season, more than only the 0-6 New York Giants. Woodley isn’t the problem, he has five of those sacks and also batted down a Flacco pass during Sunday’s game.
Had the Steelers forced a turnover or two or if someone not named Woodley realized it’s OK for him to sack the quarterback, too, the game wouldn’t have been nearly as nerve-wracking. This was the eighth game decided by exactly three points in the last nine regular-season meetings between these teams.
Perhaps that’s just the way it is whenever the Ravens and Steelers get together. Regardless of how they get it, any Steelers win over the Ravens merits a celebration. The Steelers are halfway to .500 after their catastrophic 0-4 start, and while Todd Haley won’t be a guest on “This Old House” anytime soon, he did a little remodeling of the Steelers’ offense by installing the wildcat.
Le’Veon Bell gained a few of his 93 yards out of that set. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. The rookie ran for 22 yards on four carries during the Steelers’ only touchdown drive, which culminated in a 3-yard shovel pass to Heath Miller and a 7-0 Steelers lead in the first quarter.
The rookie running back’s best game as a pro was a welcome sight, as was the performance of cornerback William Gay.
After the Steelers took that 7-0 lead, the teams traded field goals for 40 minutes. The maligned Gay helped keep the Steelers ahead by breaking up two would-be touchdown passes during that stretch.
The Ravens finally tied the Steelers on a 1-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark with two minutes remaining, but the Steelers held the lead long enough to have the ball last.
At that point, the pleasant surprises fashioned by Gay and Bell set the stage for Antonio Brown to do what he’s paid $43 million over six years to do. He caught two passes for 24 yards in Ravens territory to get the Steelers into field-goal range, and Suisham kicked his fifth walk-off field goal since he joined the Steelers in 2010.
No hug-a-thons this time, though. There’s no place for such emotion with all the work the Steelers still have to do.