Here are ten observations about the first half of today’s Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game at M&T Bank Stadium. A reminder that Ryan Chell and I will be back on the air for the “Nasty Purple Postgame Show” following the conclusion of today’s game on AM1570 and WNST.net.
-Looks like David Reed was being honest when he told me players had been given the green light to bring kicks out of the end zone just as long as they were moving forward. There were a couple of touchbacks, but Lardarius Webb and Antonio Brown were certainly willing to bring the ball out even from fairly deep to significantly deep.
-So much for not being able to run on the Steelers defense, huh? Still no luck running up the middle, but running to the outside worked well.
-The first drive from Joe Flacco and Ray Rice was something to behold. I don’t know how much of that had to do with this being the first game of the season, but it was fun. It goes without saying that we’d like to see a few more quick hitters this year.
-Any more questions about why the Ravens were willing to let go of Todd Heap this offseason? The team continues to have high hopes for Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, who each made plays.
-For the most part, the Offensive Line has held up despite everything. The holding call on Bryant McKinnie was questionable (although I thought he was beat on the play) and Cam Cameron/Todd Washington/presumably Andy Moeller did a nice job in scheming and organizing help.
-It would be nice to see more from the receivers in general. Flacco was a bit early on the first play where he targeted Lee Evans (the second was a bit of a prayer along the sideline) and Torrey Smith has yet to be targeted. In general, this team will need to hit the receivers more for the offense to be dynamic. Some of this remains on Flacco, who continues to be quick to look for Rice and his tight ends.
-The run defense has certainly been an issue. The Steelers’ TD drive was built on nice runs by Rashard Mendenhall (and Isaac Redman). There were far too many second and short scenarios for Ben Roethlisberger and company during the drive.
-Cary Williams got lost in the back of the end zone on the Emmanuel Sanders touchdown, but otherwise had a very good first half. The reason everyone thinks he’s playing well is because for the most part he’s played well. He deserves credit. It wasn’t good to see Jimmy Smith pull up, but fortunately it doesn’t appear significant.
-Ed Reed made a very nice play on Hines Ward before the half, but you know he’ll be thinking about the dropped interception for awhile. When he’s giving his Hall of Fame speech in Canton years from now he’ll have probably forgotten about it however.
-Hard not to think about last year’s AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field with the Ravens ahead 21-7. Hopefully no one went into the locker room running their mouth the way a certain TJ Houshmandzadeh did in January.
We’ll be taking your calls (410-481-1570) after the game. Look forward to talking to you then. Hopefully things are still good then.