Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: Observations and Analysis

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Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers: Observations and Analysis
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Lewis' interception was a big one

I expect Monday sales of blood pressure and heart medication will go up in both Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  For Ravens fans, though, things are looking pretty good after a win at the Steelers, 17-14.

As expected, the game was low scoring and close, coming down to a touchdown pass in the final minute to put the Ravens up by three, then an interception on the first play after the touchdown by the seeming ageless Ray Lewis.

Steelers' fans will look back on two missed field goals and that last interception and wonder "what if?" but they played well and are going in to their bye week 3-1 when few expected they would have a winning record without Big Ben.

The Ravens are now also 3-1, keeping pace with the Steelers for a share of the AFC North lead.  We saw a lot to be happy about, but there are still some things the team needs to address as the season moves along.


Offense

With Ray Rice not at 100 percent, Willis McGahee started the game, and played well until getting banged up himself, going 39 yards on 14 carries and scoring a touchdown.  Rice had 20 yards on 8 carries. 

Joe Flacco put together a nice game, going 24 for 37 and 256 yards with a touchdown and an interception.  He looked poised and calm for most of the game, and lead the team in a last minute come back drive to win the game.

The offensive line played very well, opening up some running lanes against a tough Steelers' defense, and keeping Joe Flacco upright, giving up just one sack.

The Ravens also did a nice job spreading the ball around and finding ways to involve all of their weapons.  We're starting to see the offseason moves to improve the receivers pay off.

The two turnovers were disappointing.  The McGahee fumble was understandable, but the interception looked like a terrible decision by Flacco. 


Defense

The Ravens Defense continues to look like the number one squad in the league.  They couldn't completely shut down the Steelers running game, but did hold the Steelers to 210 total yards. 

Other than one 34-yard pass, the Ravens pass defense looked great again, which is great news given the preseason concerns.

Still just one interception, but boy, it was a big one at the end of the game that ended the Steelers last chance to drive down the field for a field goal to tie the game.


Special Teams

The Steelers return game was effectively shut down by the Ravens.  They still aren't breaking returns free, but at least have stopped the negative punt returns. 

Billy Cundiff missed a 49-yard attempt at the tough open end of the stadium, and made a 33-yarder at the close of the first half.


Penalties

Both teams had a couple of undisciplined penalties, and both had a couple of questionable calls go against them.  All in all, the Steelers paid more of a price for their mistakes.

Ravens' fans can rest easy tonight, as one of the toughest contests of the year is now behind the team.  A great outcome for the Ravens, and they head in to a soft part of the season (if there is a soft part of the season) with two of the next three games against teams they should easily handle.

 

Visit Paul's blog at paulstagg.com
You can follow Paul on Twitter @Paul_Stagg

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