-Some will spend Monday pointing to the fact that Ray Rice did not get a single touch in the fourth quarter, blaming Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron but not recognizing the team only had seven offensive plays after an early 3rd & 15 to start the stanza.
-Many have already pointed to John Harbaugh’s decision to challenge an incomplete pass from Batch in the 3rd quarter, hoping the play would be ruled a fumble after review. The play never had much of any chance of being overturned and came just moments after QB Joe Flacco had spent the team’s first timeout of the 2nd half before a 3rd and long the team would fail to convert. Harbaugh himself admitted after the game it was a bad challenge.
-Flacco will not be absolved from responsibility. NFL.com columnist Adam Schein wrote last week that Flacco “couldn’t be trusted” down the stretch, and the fifth year player out of Delaware did nothing to dismiss such accusations with misses both on deep ball attempts and even an underneath throw in the fourth quarter that was a bit behind WR Tandon Doss and sent with just a bit too much zip. Flacco had two fourth down drives and the Ravens came away with a punt and a lost fumble. He also appeared guilty of hanging on to the football a little too long on multiple occasions and made a very poor decision to overthrow TE Dennis Pitta on a scramble where S Ryan Clark came away with a Pittsburgh interception.
-Flacco’s fourth quarter fumble came after James Harrison claimed one of the Steelers’ three sacks on the game. LT Michael Oher struggled again, raising further questions about the team’s decisions to stick with him at the position after early struggles.
-Those complaining about Rice’s lack of 4th quarter touches do so while pointing out the perennial Pro Bowl finished the game with 6.5 yards per carry on his 12 rushes. Those same people refuse to point out that Rice gained 54 of those yards on just three carries, meaning his other nine carries resulted in just 24 yards. It was a solid game from Rice, but after averaging just two yards per carry in the teams’ first meeting two weeks ago, Cameron felt it necessary to mix in backup Bernard Pierce a bit more often.
-Doss’ drop was perhaps the one that was easiest to remember, but WR Anquan Boldin, WR Torrey Smith and even Rice were also guilty of letting Flacco down at times during the game. Flacco was also guilty of overthrowing receivers early in the game, leading to questions about the rhythm the unit has with the QB.
-The Ravens were credited with two sacks on the game, with DL Arthur Jones making a nice play to get off a block and bring down Batch and LB Paul Kruger getting home after a play where Batch held the ball for what I’m pretty sure was roughly 90 seconds. Batch appeared quite comfortable throughout the second half, finishing the game 25/36 for 276 yards. After a big week from the Ravens’ pass rush in San Diego; DT Haloti Ngata looked like the banged up vet that struggled before getting the week off in Week 10 and LB Terrell Suggs was again mostly a non-factor.
-Jonathan Dwyer’s TD run came after running directly into the defensive line. It was a microcosm of a game where Ravens defenders had opportunities to wrap up Dwyer and fellow RB Isaac Redman but couldn’t finish off the plays.
-The Ravens were fortunate to see Batch overthrow Steelers WR Mike Wallace late in the first half after a secondary breakdown lead to Wallace standing wide open in the endzone. The night was a struggle for CB’s Cary Williams, Corey Graham and Chykie Brown (outside of Graham’s interception of a pass attempt by Steelers WR Antonio Brown). Steelers WR’s and especially TE Heath Miller regularly found themselves open downfield, many times in the middle of play.
-After S Ed Reed intercepted Batch in the endzone, the Ravens only needed a few plays before giving the ball right back to the Steelers on the edge of the red zone. DL Ziggy Hood recovered Flacco’s fumble after Harrison’s sack; changing both momentum and ultimately the scoreboard in the 4th when Batch threw a TD to Miller to tie things up.
-The Ravens’ season long third down struggles continued, as they were able to extend just three drives in 11 attempts on third down. P Sam Koch was forced into action after five of those failures. The Steelers were able to extend drives five of the 13 times they faced third down.
-The Ravens reached the red zone just once, settling for a Justin Tucker field goal. The Steelers reached the red zone three times; receiving TD’s from Dwyer and Miller and connection on a Suisham field goal the other trip.
-LB Dannell Ellerbe and TE Ed Dickson both missed the game due to injury and both were missed. DL Pernell McPhee returned for the first time since the bye and had little impact. Suggs left the game late in the fourth quarter with an arm injury that had no official update early Monday morning but appeared to be a concern.
And NONE of this would have been of great concern to me had the Ravens held on to win.
Instead…we’re going to have a tough week around Charm City.
We’ll be here to talk about it.