Game Recap: The Ravens Rise Up from the Ashes of a 4-10 Season
If it makes any of us feel any better, there were several upsets in the early games. Undefeated Carolina was beaten by the previously 7-7 Falcons. The Chiefs barely beat the Browns. The Jets beat the Patriots in overtime. Oh wait, that’s bad. Leave it to the Pats to screw the Steelers one more time this season.
Don’t feel any better? I didn’t think so. The game was definitely sub-optimal. I have to admit I was in no rush to write this one up.
I’m also feeling rather foolish for publishing the Seven Shots article Sunday morning. But I suppose if I hadn’t put it up this morning I might not have felt I could use it at all. So there’s that.
So what happened? This was the team that couldn’t score on anybody playing the team with the offense that nobody could shut down. Nobody, that is, but themselves. Ben was uncharacteristically not-sharp. The receivers were dropping some things they should have caught. DeAngelo Williams was the one guy who really brought his lunch pail.
As usual in such an instance the game hinged on some little things. Jesse James couldn’t get the last half a yard to convert the down in the first series, and the 4th down attempt didn’t make it. Antonio Brown couldn’t quite get his foot down for the touchdown. Ben couldn’t quite remember what color uniform he was supposed to avoid. He’s thrown a ton of interceptions on the road.
But it cut both ways. The game would have been put away even sooner had Courtney Upshaw not had his big toe over the line of scrimmage at the beginning of the play which appeared to result in a 100-yard interception return. There were a couple of cases where a defender had a hand on the ball and couldn’t reel it in. The series at the end of the first half had a nice gain negated by something I’ve never heard of—an “illegal snap” penalty. In fact, had the Ravens not incurred so many large penalties things would have been even more dire.
It’s safe to say the Steelers just weren’t on today. The defense would force 2nd or 3rd and very long and then give up a huge gaping number of yards. The offense would be moving the ball well and stall or even turn it over. We kept waiting for the triumphant ending, but it just wasn’t their day.
Even Antonio Brown didn’t look extraordinary much of the time. Ben threw a number of contested (and often not completed) passes while missing someone wide open. The final Steelers play of the game, excluding the punt and the Hail Mary, was a well-defended pass to Wheaton which was incomplete. All the while Jesse James was closer and so open it looked like he was in a different game. It was just that sort of day.
I don’t know there is a lot more to say about this game. The Steelers really needed it. The Ravens didn’t, although perhaps they did for their own self-respect. The final result is not what everyone was predicting. The Steelers are now in what seems like the usual position of not only having to win their final game but have some number of the other games go their way. Which is not how we hoped to be spending next Sunday.
Momma’s Kind and Caring Report Card:
Effort: I’ll have to go back and check, but it seems to me this award has been won a number of times by DeAngelo Williams. He gets it again today.
Citizenship: Not Matt Spaeth, that’s for sure. I think it has to go to Courtney Upshaw, who considerately nullified the 100-yard interception return of his teammate. If only there had been a few more such instances…
Work Ethic: I can’t give everything to DeAngelo, but it’s tempting. Half the time the defense was hustling and half the time they seemed stunned. The offense frequently seemed lackadaisical. Maybe it should go to the announcing crew, who were doing their utmost to assure we all knew Ryan Mallett had been in Baltimore a total of 12 days, 3 hours, 47 minutes, and 22 seconds prior to the game. Good job, guys. We got it.