Monday, December 06, 2010

The Good, Bad, Ugly and The Megan Fox: Ravens v. Steelers



This was a playoff game and the spoils for the winner – control of the AFC North. The game played out as many thought it might, a physical closely fought battle between archrivals that harbor a respectful disdain for each other.

Point blank the Ravens should have won the game.

They failed because the Steelers’ have a prime time quarterback who steps up and consistently makes big plays when they’re needed most, particularly in the series between these clubs. Joe Flacco is a primetime wannabe who has shown signs of stepping up to the level of some of his more accomplished peers but the fact is he’s just not there yet. His short-hopped throw to a wide open Ed Dickson to seal the Ravens’ fate on Sunday Night is all the proof you need. He had an opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and came up as short as his errant pass.

THE GOOD: While he struggled at times, Joe Flacco did make some outstanding throws unfortunately none of them took place when the Ravens failed on three consecutive pass attempts from the Steelers’ six yard line…Save for one missed blocking assignment on James Farrior, Ray Rice was very good in pass protection checking Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu at different times throughout the game…Anquan Boldin played like he had a score to settle with the team he lost to in Super Bowl XLIII chipping in with 5 catches, 118 yards and a score…

Jarret Johnson had another fine effort with solid outside containment and occasional pressure…Cory Redding finally turned in the type of performance (6 tackles, 1 sack) the team expected when they signed him this past offseason…Haloti Ngata continues to build a case for All Pro consideration. He manhandled the Steelers’ offensive line the entire game…Marshal Yanda continues to deliver on the offensive line no matter where the Ravens position him. On Sunday he even provided support at left tackle in a couple of unbalanced formations…Billy Cundiff, whatever vitamins you are on keep it a secret. His amazing string of touchbacks continues despite blustery conditions that weren’t very inviting.

THE BAD: Ed Dickson struggled with his blocking assignments and made no one forget Todd Heap when he dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Joe Flacco that could have gone for a 30+ yard gain…Haruki Nakamura cost the Ravens twice – once when he mugged Heath Miller negating a sack of Ben Roethlisberger that would have forced the Steelers to punt from inside their own 18. On the same drive he came in untouched on a blitz dialed up by Greg Mattison but Roethlisberger easily avoided Nakamura and connected with Emmanuel Sanders for 28 yards to set up a field goal…Josh Wilson’s open field tackling was uncharacteristically poor and Dawan Landry failed to make a rather easy tackle on Isaac Redman and his inability to do so led to the game winning score…

Brendon Ayanbadejo’s false start on an aborted first quarter fake punt negated what would have been a significant gain by upback Nakamura…Cory Redding took the Roethlisberger bait (the hard cadence) and committed a neutral zone infraction that kept a Steelers’ scoring drive alive…Michael Oher’s play of late is more reminiscent of Orlando Brown’s and not Jon Ogden’s. His holding and false starts are unfortunately becoming the norm rather than the exception…Ed Reed, what are you thinking about with your unnecessary gambling on that punt return near your own goal line? If a rookie had done that, well you know…

THE UGLY: The Ravens had this game won if they only played for 60 minutes. Cam Cameron’s pull in the reins style is growing old to watch and word is it is wearing thin on the players as well. How long before this spills over to the defense? Cameron has a history of backing off and playing not to lose. Sunday was no different. The Ravens offense failed to capitalize on great field position. Twice the Ravens started drives just on their side of midfield and both times they were three and out. In the third quarter after a 67 yard pass play to Donte Stallworth to set a first and 10 at Pittsburgh’s 27, the Ravens punted 3 plays later after the Steelers pushed them back to the 43. The three successive pass plays after the Ravens had it first and goal from the 6 were the epitome of ugly. The first two were low percentage tosses, one to a rookie tight end who obviously isn’t in synch with his quarterback.

Cameron’s decision to go with a three step drop throw on 2nd and 5 with 3:22 to go from the Ravens 43 while holding a 10-6 lead was a bit oxymoronic. Cameron has called off the dogs in the past to go conservative and when a conservative run was in order to burn up more clock, the Ravens gave the Steelers an opportunity to produce a big play, something they prey upon. To burn the clock down to 2 minutes with two more runs and then send in Sam Koch to punt from a favorable spot on the field would have pinned the Steelers deep in their own end. Given the way the Ravens defense was playing, taking it the length of the field for a touchdown would have been extremely difficult even for the dramatic Roethlisberger…

Cameron chose to completely abandon any attempt to establish a running game. The Ravens signed FB Jason McKie this week but chose to put him on the inactive list. And the point of the signing was? With the ability of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee to pass protect, why not try both in the backfield at the same time?

Hey Chris Collinsworth, nice to know you bleed black and gold. Maybe you are still afraid of the Steelers…Ravens Marketing Dept., your purple towel idea was a joke to begin with. Copying a lame prop from your archrival and then choosing a color that doesn’t stand out but simply blends in with the purple clad fans? What were you thinking? And to make matters worse, many fans didn’t even get one because the stadium attendants handing them out didn’t care if you helped yourself to 1 or 20. Not only that, it made entering the stadium a colossal cluster you-know-what. And one more thing, if you want to showcase Toyota products (and we love Toyota), put them on the field along the sidelines not in Unitas Plaza where they only made the queuing even more cumbersome.

THE MEGAN FOX: It has been quite some time since we’ve seen such a dominant performance against the Steelers like the one that Terrell Suggs delivered on Sunday. Nearly single handedly he forced Pittsburgh into settling for a field goal after the 28 yard completion from Roethlisberger to Sanders set up a first and goal at the two. Then just before the game winner to Redman, Suggs nearly brought down and stripped the Steelers’ signal caller. He was menacing the entire night both in run support and in his relentless pursuit of Roethlisberger. He had 1 ½ sacks, 5 quarterback hurries and 5 tackles, 3 of which were for losses. There’s little doubt that the best player on the field Sunday night for the Ravens was No. 55.

14 comments :

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Dec 6th
..Good assessment of the Game. I saw a great analysis of what the Stillers did on the fateful play..as explained by Merril Hodge today. Bottom line is we missed TODD HEAP and L'RON MC CLAIN. I knew it was a bad Omen when DICKSON played "HOT POTATO" with that first pass...I saw that as a possible TD to put the Ravens in Command. But..things went down hill from there for the Offense...

The Ravens do not have the players to compete with the Big Boys. I hope Ravens Fans are watching the PATRIOTS Destroy the NEW YORK Jets on MNF tonite. Now 10:50 pm...score is 31-3. HEY Rex where is that great Defense now? COULD the Loss of JIM LEONARD mean that much? I Doubt it; Brady is in another league tonite. Again, I hope the Ravens Offensive Coaches and Harbaugh are watching. Lots of lessons could be learned from the Patriots

Tabish said...

(I didn't think you were going to post today because you were so upset/angry)
I'm sick of Cameron's conservativeness. Do you think Harbaugh will fire him? The offences improvement is remarkable, but if you can't close games, what good is it really?

Jerry B said...

Agree with most, but not all of your assessment, TL, particularly the play of Joe Flacco. Flacco is not alllowed to play his position like he was "born" to play it because Cameron designs the game plan, calls all the plays, sets the tempo and is in complete control of the QB and offense! And, therein lies at least 50% of the problem with this offense, not just Sunday night, but all year long! I was reminded yesterday that it was Cameron running San Diego's offense that nearly ruined Drew Brees' career! When a team is as talented as the Ravens' offense and it consistently fails to produce or live up to expectations, the logical conclusion is....coaching! How else do you explain Cutler's and the Bears' success or the fact that the Cowboys are 3-1 in their last 4 games? You know what changed.......the coaching! I rest my case.......

Tony Lombardi said...

@ Harry...

I COMPLETELY disagree with you that the Ravens lack the talent to compete with the "Big Boys."

They absolutely have the talent but I don't think that they have the coaching talent on the sidelines to properly game plan and/or place their players in position to make plays.

The Ravens took New England to overtime in Foxboro and you could say if not for the tactical coaching errors, they should have won.

I think that's competing and my guess is that you would say that the Patriots are one of the "Big Boys."

Just my opinion...

Tony Lombardi said...

@ Jerry...

Obviously I agree with you to a certain extent given my long list of reasons why Cameron is this week's "ugly."

But in what little defense I would offer Cameron, it wasn't him that dropped that 30+ yard pass in the first quarter (that was Dickson) and it wasn't him that threw behind Dickson just prior to the Ravens' final offensive play and it wasn't him who bounced a pass to a wide open receiver to end any chance for victory.

Harryos29 said...

Harry os 29 Dec 7th 9 am
..Tony ..your points are well taken. let me just say that the RAVENS ORGANIZATION needs to Wake up as a whole. They need to draft players that can WIN. Whatever the Patriots are doing...that is what I want my Ravens to do.
... If we have the PLAYERS to win on OFFENSE...then I hold COACH HARBAUGH responsible for KICKING THE CAN down the road...and Not lighting a FIRE under his coordinators to get things RIGHT! I am and will always be a Ravens fan... All I want is for them to succeed....

Anonymous said...

only disagreement I have is the fact you said Big Ben was a primetime QB who makes plays. No, that was not the case.Troy Polamalu made the play. Even after that the Ravens kept Ben out of the endzone until Isaac Redman schooled 5 of our guys for 6.

Harryos29 said...

HARRYOS 29 DEC 7TH
...SCHOOLED 5 OF 6 DEFENSIVE RAVENS.. I THINK THAT #26 LANDRY DID A GREAT IMPRESSION OF HIS BROTHER WHO PLAYS FOR THE DEAD-SKINS ON THAT PLAY THAT ALLOWED REDMAN TO SCORE...WHO IS REDMAN ANY WAY...
THE ONLY REDMAN I HAD HEARD OF PRIOR TO THIS GAME ,, WAS BK UP QB FOR THE FALCONS...CHRIS REDMAN.
HAD THE RAVENS DEFENSE STOPPED REDMAN..THAT WOULD HAVE JUST DELAYED THE INEVITABLE STEELERS WIN FOR A COUPLE OF PLAYS... THAT WAS HORRIBLE FOR A DEFENSE THAT KEPT THEM OUT OF THE ENDZONE ALL NITE.... SAD..WAY TO LOSE...

Erniesto said...

Jim Zorn for OC next week. Start it.

Jerry B said...

TL, your argument belies the fact that the offense has struggled the entire year under Cameron's obvious heavy-handed control. No, he doesn't execute plays, but he controls every facet of the offense including personnel packages and the other things I mentioned earlier and he clearly lacks a "feel" for the game! Additionally, when the passing is limited to "must" situations, it not only increases the risk of an incompletion or "pick", it interferes with the QB's confidence and rhythm. Flacco was so successful at throwing deep to Boldin and Stallworth on a couple of occasions early on, that they stopped throwing to them! QB's get paid to throw the ball and the more they do, the better they get at it, particularly against as inept a secondary as the Steeler's. No, his poor coaching was not a one game anomaly; rather, it was a continuation of a year long display of ineptitude. The talent is there in abundance; unfortunately, the coaching is not! Of course, that's just my opinion......

Tony Lombardi said...

Jerry, like I said I agree with most of what you wrote but the purpose of each G,B,U & MF is to assess a particular game and in the case of Ravens v. Steelers, Flacco blew it on that last play, not Cameron and he should share in the blame.

You might argue that if not for Cameron they wouldn't have been in that situation but they were and when they were Flacco failed.

You have to admit it was a good call given how wide open Dickson was on 4th and 2.

Jerry B said...

I would argue again, TL, that when your offense is held to a paltry 80+ yards in the second half, and has to settle for field goals in the "Red Zone", one play did not make the difference! Sure, he was open, but my guess is that Flacco could have had a field day against that secondary if he had been allowed to even if it meant throwing the ball 40-50 times! By the way, Flacco's real strength is in operating the "no huddle" and in the "shotgun" formation, but he's rarely allowed those privileges. If Cameron doesn't let go of Joe's reins, then Cameron deserves to be....let go!!!

Ernest said...

They weren't running on 3rd and 2 and that is why Cameron is to the blame. Cameron has almost abandoned the run, even when the blockers are all healthy. We have a stable of blockers. a decent OL and a ridiculous RB who was averaging 3 yards per carry and a wide-out capable of serious yards after catch. Yet we throw it to an unseasoned rookie, on Flacco's blindside TWICE in a row.

Joe Flacco is a 3rd year late 1st round QB. You don't put the game on his shoulders like that, especially after a game-changing fumble. You give the ball to Rice or Boldin for short yardage.

The Steelers couldn't stop Ben Jarvus, they sure as hell couldn't hold Rice to two yards over two plays, McClain out or not. Hell, put Ngata or Ayanbadeyo in if you need a blocker, both are pro-bowl caliber blockers and could have pushed a hole. Cameron does not adjust his schemes from week to week and is just not creative in ANY capacity.

Phil from Frostburg said...

The problem is the Ravens offensive plays appear all too predictable based on the formations and sets they are running. It just seems like opposing defenses know what's coming half the time. Combine that with LeRon McClain admitting this week on a local talk show that the Ravens never (repeat NEVER) audible out of the 1st and 2nd down plays when he's in the backfield. How do you run a professional offense when your QB isn't allowed to audible? I think Brian St Pierre even audibled a couple times against us.

P.S. You're spot on on about the ingress issues at Unitas plaza. I've been saying it's ridiculous all season. Some kid is liable to get trampled if they don't fix this.