Ravens Run Down: Black Birds Stomp Steelers 26-6.

Featured, Sports and Bets — September 12, 2014 at 6:19 am by

After a rough Week One against the Bengals and after a massive media diarrhea storm in the aftermath of the Ray Rice elevator incident, the Ravens needed an inferior opponent to take their frustrations out on.  Turns out, the Pittsburgh Steelers were just what the football doctor ordered.

The Steelers, despite my cheap humor, are actually always tough and always good.  You know how brutal this divisional rivalry is. The last five contests have been decided by three points or less and you won’t see a more physical football game in the NFL this year.  Last night, Courtney Upshaw brought the pain early on a perfect hit of Ben Roethlisberger.  Of course he got called for a penalty. (Even though his hit looked pretty damn legal to me.)

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Thursday night’s game was no different as far as roughness and physicality goes, but that’s where the similarities to the recent past end.  This wasn’t a close game.  Sure, the Steelers were able to move the football almost at will in the first half and Ben Roethlisberger started hot, but the Ravens led throughout the evening and the bend but don’t break defense of the first half became the curb-stomp and strangle defense in the second.  In the second half, the running lanes for Leveon Bell closed and the Pittsburgh passing game screeched to a halt.  Roethlisberger didn’t complete a pass to a wide receiver in the second half until Pittsburgh’s last drive; and that drive was in garbage time.  And even Pittsburgh’s garbage time ended poorly, as that drive was snuffed out by  an incredible Haloti Ngata tip and pick.

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The Ravens made it such a lopsided affair by winning the line of scrimmage on offense.  The Steelers had been gashed for 183 yards rushing against Cleveland in week one, and it was obvious that Baltimore was going to put an emphasis on the run  and more of a run/pass balance this week than they had against the Bengals.  The Ravens ended up rushing  for  157 yards and they tuned the fourth quarter into a meat grinder, gaining big chucks of yardage on the ground on a Pittsburgh team that looked worn down and tired.  It was beautiful to see, especially since we had to sit through two yards and a cloud of farts so often last year in regards to the running game.

On the other side of the ball the defense manhandled the Steelers as the game wore on.  Elvis Dumervil notched the Ravens’ first two sacks of the year, his second coming on a powerful bull rush in which he flattened the tackle and threw Ben down for a seven yard loss on a second down play.  It was a huge play because it effectively stalled a Pittsburgh drive that had taken the Steelers deep into Baltimore territory on their first possession of the second half.  A TD there would have tied the game and been a huge momentum shift.  Instead, the Steelers kicked a field goal and the Ravens took the ensuing drive to the house.  The Steelers never sniffed points again and Baltimore cruised to victory.  I think Doom’s second sack was the biggest play of the game.

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Another key to tonight’s big win was QB, Joe Flacco.  Flacco started fast, hitting all four of his throws in the Ravens’ first drive, including a touchdown throw to tight end Owen Daniels.  Joe finished the day 21/29 for 166 yards and 2 TDS. (Both TDs went to Daniels.) It was an efficient and smart performance.  Flacco is only going to get better as the year goes on and as he gets more time with the new offense.  After watching that Bengals game again, Flacco’s receivers really let him down in the first half.  There were five drops alone in the first half last week.  In the second half of that game, Joe played well and was only 16 yards away from winning the game.  That second half carried over to this week.  The ball was out quick, Joe’s footwork was good, and the receivers cooperated by playing well.

Other Game Thoughts

Steve Smith is a damn playmaker and the offense goes through him.  He is incredibly difficult to bring down and he has speed and toughness. I had my doubts when the Ravens signed him, but I doubt no more.

Owen Daniels has been a very good tight end for a long time, but I never realized how tough he was.  This guy is unreal and his signing has been a great, under the radar, value signing.  Dude can flat-out play.

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Matt Elam continues to impress. He’s a force on the back-end on run plays and he can cover.  He helped bracket Antonio Brown all night and even had him in one-on-one coverage on a third down incompletion.  That was big because it completed a three and out right after the Ravens had scored their second TD.  Uncle Mo stayed with the guys in purple.

Bernard Pierce looked great, running hard and breaking tackles all while showing shiftiness and balance.  He rushed for 96 yards.

Justin Forsett and Pierce are a nice 1-2 punch.  Forsett is quick, he’s solid on blitzing linebackers, and he can catch.  He caught five balls and had 72 total yards.  He also broke a big run late down to the one yard line.  Funny how he’s been a journeyman.  The guy can play.

I love CJ Mosley.

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The Ravens turned the Steelers over three times.  Two turnovers killed Pittsburgh drives in Baltimore territory and one set up a short filed that produced a Justin Tucker field goal.  Ball hawks on D.

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Torrey Smith only had one catch.  But his time will come.  The deep passing game is going to open up as defenses bite on play action and as teams turn their attention more towards Senior.

Ricky Wagner is real solid at right tackle. The Ravens were able to run behind him all night and he was extremely effective in pass protection.  So far, he’s been an upgrade over Michael Oher at the position.

The difference between this week and last week:  The Bengals are a very good team.  Beatable, but very good.  The Steelers are not good.  We’ll see Cincy again later.

The Ravens now get ten days off to prepare for the Browns.

 

BTW, the Geico ad featuring Ickey Woods is fucking hilarious.

 

pics:  cbs, sun, timesunion, espn, nfl, philly.com

 

 

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