Post Game Analysis brought to you by Top Gun:
Week 12: Steelers vs Ravens
From M&T Bank Stadium.
As SA's official #1 Ratird Hater, it pains me more than you can possibly know to have to write this article in this fashion but here it goes.
Coming into this game the players & coaches from both teams, the fans, and obviously the media all knew that the Steelers absolutely had to win this game to stay alive in the playoff chase. The Ravens had a comfortable lead in the AFCN regardless of the outcome of today's game but you know they wanted to greet the defending world champs with a bang and send them home hurting. Today they did just that and to our dismay, finally shut the door on the Steelers playoff hopes for 2006.
The Steelers won the coin toss and elected to receive. That, my friends, was about the only positive to take from this game. On our first possession the team promptly went 3 and out and punted the ball away. BJ Sams returned the opening kickoff 41 yds but fortunately for the Steelers it was called back due to a typical penalty in the return game. Steve McNair went to work along with his OL and Jamal Lewis and promptly drove down to the Steelers 20 where he hit Todd Heap on Touchdown pass.
The Ravens second possession was the Jamal Lewis show as he rushed for 30 yds on the drive and capped it off with a one yard run to make the score 14-0. The Steeler's first half possessions consisted of: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, kneel day before the half. Matt Stover would add another 3 points before halftime as the teams headed into the break with the score Ravens 17, Steelers 0.
That would be scenario for most of the game. The Steeler offense was completely non-existent in the first half gaining less than 40 yards total. The offensive line gave Ben absolutely no time to throw and the Raven defense completely shutting down Willie Parker. Conversely McNair and Jamal Lewis efficiently worked the Steeler defense over like a pack of hungry wolves. Jamal finished the game with only 66 yards rushing with most of the damage done in the first half and 1 TD but each run was a big time blow to an already battered unit of black'n gold soldiers just trying to stay alive.
The second half, the Steelers kicked off to the Ravens and the defense showed up big time forcing a three and out and looking like a team that made their adjustments at half time and were ready to mount a comeback. That, however, would not be the case as the Steelers took their opening possession and promptly went three and out again. Through the second half the defense kept the Steelers in the game by doing a good job of handling the Raven offense for the most part but the damage had already been done in the first half as Ben and company continued their poor performance through the rest of the game. It was enough, though, as the Ravens just needed McNair and Co. to not lose the game for them. The defense for Baltimore continued to take over the game as Adalius Thomas returned a fumble 57 yards to make it a 24-0 affair, and basically at that point if it wasnt over already for the Steelers, that put the nail in the coffin for the team. Stover added another 3 points after Ben threw an interception, his second of the day, in the 4th quarter to make the final score 27-0 and seal the shutout victory for Baltimore.
Some final thoughts on this game and facts to ponder:
-The Steeler's possessions on offense today: Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, kneel down to end the half. Punt, Punt, Punt, Interception, Interception, end of the game. Truly a pathetic performance as we've all seen in recent history.
-The Raven defense tied a franchise record sacking Ben 9 times today.
-Ben continued his problems this year by throwing two more interceptions bringing his total to a league high 19 for the season. We can hardly blame him today though as these came in the 4th quarter when he was trying to force the issue to make some type of play.
-Willie Parker had just 22 yards rushing, the team as a whole registered it's lowest rushing total in the Bill Cowher era.
-If you really want to dig for a bright spot, you can say the coverage units today did a good job containing BJ Sams. For once they actually didn't contribute to the loss, depending on how you look at it. Hey, on a day like this, any bright spot is worth searching for, I guess.
All in all, this was one of the worst peformances in the Bill Cowher era, no question. The offensive line was terrible and literally gave Ben no chance whatsoever to try and survey the field and make a play. Even when we finally went to the no huddle the front 7 continually broke through our line and collapsed the pocket from all angles giving Ben nowhere to run and no time to find an open receiver. The Ravens just flat out took it to our beloved Steelers today. They came into this game with a purpose and goal which was to knock us out of contention as they continue with their drive to the playoffs. They did just that and much more.
I have never seen a Steeler team look so dejected, beat up, beaten down, and just have no heart on the field. Listening to all the media wrap up on today's game, those thoughts were confirmed especially hearing Tunch say that this Steeler team looks like they have no fire or passion on the field. Craig Wolfley mentioned on FSN Live tonight that he watched the team come out of the locker room for the second half, with their heads down and looking dejected, tired, and just mentally and physically beaten up.
This team needs to pull together and finish this season on a strong note and show their pride. They have to fight through this slump and fight through the down state of mind that they are obviously in because if they don't, they'll have a hard time winning another game the rest of this season.
And that folks, is the game. In a nutshell, the Steeler's chances of any playoff hopes hinged on getting a win today in Baltimore but that small flicker of hope was extinguished today in a manner that continually leaves us scratching our heads at not only this afternoon's outcome, but at this entire 2006 campaign.
- Top Gun
Steeler fan forever, no matter what, and still the #1 Ratbird Hater now more than ever
One final note... All Pro Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu suffered what Bill Cowher is calling "a significant knee injury". At this point it looks like he'll be done for the year but there is no other information or updates as to the exact injury or prognosis.