I honestly can’t remember a game that included such ridiculous stomach-churning, caused by great highs followed immediately by crushing lows.
With the Ravens having just cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 20-17 in the third quarter, on the first play after the kickoff, Dominique Foxworth intercepted Baby Ben and returned in 46 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, the Ravens had their first lead of the day.
Touchdown NEGATED by a retarded block-in-the-back by Terrell Suggs that served absolutely no purpose at all.
They would manage just a field goal after the penalty, tying the game at 20.
Five minutes later, with the game still tied, Willis McGahee broke free around the left side of the line and raced 15 yards into the end zone, putting the Ravens up 26-20. Or so it seemed, until the little yellow “flag” flashed on our screens.
Touchdown NEGATED by a Kelley Washington hold, that again, affected the play in no way – Willis was in whether he holds or not there. Simply getting in the way would have been enough.
Two plays later, Derrick Mason sprints 21 yards into the end zone, wiiiiiiide open, and Flacco lays it right in his gut. Or, it would have hit his gut, had his facemask not gotten in the way.
Touchdown pass DROPPED.
After the drop, the second should-have-been touchdown in three plays, the Ravens self destructed, going from 1st-and-10 at the Pit 21 to 4th-and-30 at the 41, on the shoulders of illegal formation and personal foul penalties.
And, last, but not least….
Pittsburgh facing 3rd-and-11 at the two minute warning, up by 3, the Ravens needing a stop to cling to any semblance of hope. Baby Ben fades back, avoids Trevor Pryce, and heaves up an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Tom Zbikowski, and returned to the Pittsburgh 42. The Ravens now need just a few yards to attempt the game-tying FG to force overtime, or could win with a touchdown.
Interception NEGATED by illegal contact on Frank Walker.
On the play, Mike Wallace ran right into Walker’s arms, the two embraced in a sort of post-Christmas hug for a second, and then the pass flew. Not only does Walker have every right to that space that Wallace does, the fact that Roethlisberger was running around like a chicken with his head cut off makes it perfectly acceptable for Frank to make contact more than 5 yards down the field.
For the second week in a row, Baby Ben threw what should have been a game-changing interception in the final minutes, only to be bailed out by the guys in stripes.
On the day, the Ravens racked up 11 penalties for 113 yards. The Steelers, meanwhile, had 4 for 20 (heh, 420).
Two of those calls were inexcusable personal fouls, one on Oneil Cousins, and the other on Haloti Ngata. On Ngata’s, it was Daren Stone all over again.
For a guy that wants to come off as a disciplinarian, John Harbaugh continues to prove that he has absolutely no control over his team. According to WNST morning show host Drew Forrester, Walker was out on the field during warm ups waving a terrible towel, taunting the Steelers. Excusing for a second that FRANK FREAKING WALKER has no business taunting anybody; let’s ask the question of why the hell Harbaugh is allowing his guys to do that kind of Bush league high school crap.
Week after week, the Ravens rack up high double and triple digits in penalty yards.
Week after week, they make stupid, undisciplined errors, resulting in yellow flying from the skies like the snow was last Saturday.
And, week after week, there seems to be no accountability for these errors, as the same guys (cough, NGATAWALKER, cough) are the culprits.
Haloti Ngata is a great player, no doubt about it, but for a guy that just registered his first sack of the season in Week 16, he needs to be told to cut out the bone-headed personal fouls or that big contract he is looking for will be from a team that plays far from Charm City.
Harbaugh has now had nearly two full seasons to back up his tough talk about accountability and discipline. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and the Ravens pudding seems to still be missing some key ingredients.
Another thing the head ball coach has had two years to figure out is this clock thing. At the end of the first half, Pittsburgh faced 3rd-and-12 from their own 4 yard line. There was about 1:50 on the clock when the 2nd down play ended. Had the Ravens called timeout, they could have gotten their ish together on the sideline, put in the correct personnel, sold out against the pass, and in all likelihood, gotten the ball back with great field position and over 1:30 to work with.
Instead, John the dumb dumb kept his timeouts in his pocket, the Steelers gladly let the clock tick down to 1:11 before snapping it, Terrell Suggs idiotically jumped offsides, and Fat Ben took advantage with a free-play Hail Mary down the right sideline.
Four plays later, Santonio Holmes scored a touchdown in his 4358345983450th straight game against the Ravens, and the teams went into the locker room with the score 20-10.
Face, meet palm.
Along with ALLLL of that, throw in the fact that the Ravens gave the Steelers THREE short fields in the first quarter (an interception when Flacco was hit as he threw, a big kickoff return, and a shanked punt), directly leading to 13 points, and it is painfully obvious that the Ravens gave this game away. They were the better team than Pittsburgh, despite what the wannabe yinzer in the cubicle next to you is trying to tell you this morning.
They continue to remind us, however, that they just don’t know HOW to win. This game was another in the painfully long string of “couldda, wouldda, shoulddas” that this season has seen, from the first Cincinnati game, to New England, to Minnesota, and now to the City of Lucky Champions.
Ok, all that aside, there were some positives yesterday.
Most notably was Ray Rice (of course), who ran for 141 yards on 30 carries, the first back to break the century mark against the Steelers since 2007, breaking the longest current streak in the NFL.
Todd Heap has his second straight two TD performance, and Flacco seems to have no qualms about going to #86 when he needs a big play.
The pass rush was decent, as the Ravens sacked Roethlisberger 4 times, 2.5 coming from the defensive line.
Perhaps the most important positive for the Ravens yesterday, though, came not in western Pennsylvania, but on the other side of the state, in Philadelphia. Let’s all thank the Eagles for holding off a furious rally from the Broncos. By virtue of that game, there are still no 9-win non-division winners in the AFC, and the Ravens WILL be in the playoffs with a win in Oakland next week.
For a full explanation, read Glenn Clark’s thesis here.
Win, and we’re in. Doesn’t get much simpler than that. The same cannot be said for those bad guys in yellow and black, who need to win in Miami AND to get more than a little help, to see the postseason.