Taking a look back at the Steelers-Ravens game on my DVR
* For my money, the play of the game was the Ray Rice 36-yard run on the first snap. It was a simple zone run to the left for Rice, but it set the tone for the entire game.
This is what happened: Troy Polamalu was blocked to the outside by tight end Ed Dickson; backside guard Marshal Yanda cut Casey Hampton while he was being blocked by center Matt Birk; guard Ben Grubbs put Brett Keisel on his backside; fullback Vonte Leach locked down James Harrison; and the big man, left tackle Bryant McKinnie, cleared the way for Rice with by swallowing linebacker James Farrior.
The play was blocked up absolutely perfect by the Ravens. However, 36 yards should’ve never come out of it. Ryan Clark missed a tackle 12 yards down the field that resulted in an extra 20-plus yards.
Dick LeBeau always is the first to credit Clark for being the reason why the Steelers rarely give up long runs. That is very true because Rice’s run should’ve been 15 yards at the most if it wasn’t for Clark’s missed tackle.
It happened again later in the game when Ricky Williams went 26 yards. Clark missed a tackle that resulted in a nice gain turning into a long gain.
* Just think, the Steelers allowed three rushes of 24 yards or longer the entire season last year. They allowed Baltimore to surpass that twice within three quarters Sunday.
* On Joe Flacco’s touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, it is puzzling to think why LeBeau didn’t give Bryant McFadden help over the top rather than Ike Taylor on the other side.
McFadden not only needs more help when the two corners are 100 percent, but especially when McFadden was playing in his first game action the entire season because of a sore hamstring.
Saying that, what a wonderful throw by Flacco and even a better catch by Boldin.
* It may be legal, but I am sure Hampton didn’t appreciate the constant backside cuts by Yanda. Yanda came over and cut Hampton on Baltimore’s first four running plays of the game. But again, it also is a good way of render Hampton ineffective.
* You just assume that when Terrell Suggs sacks Ben Roethlisberger it is the left tackle’s fault – or in Sunday’s case, Jonathan Scott’s fault.
That is not the case.
Baltimore uses Suggs in a various number of ways and actually line him up on either side depending on down and distance.
On Suggs first sack of Roethlisberger late in the first quarter that resulted in a fumble, Suggs lined up at on the opposite side of the formation that he usually lines up
If that wasn’t bad enough, he ran a stunt to perfection with Haloti Ngata and came untouched to the quarterback.
Who to blame you ask? Not Doug Legursky.
Hate to break it to you folks, but that was 100 percent Maurkice Pouncey’s fault. He needed to recognize the stunt and pick up Suggs and hand off Ngata to Legursky.
It didn’t happen and one of the big plays of the game resulted out of it.
* Just to be critical for a second when it comes to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. When Rice scored to make it 14-0, Nantz said “they might want to look at this one” and Simms rebutted “they can if they want.”
Hmm, you are the top broadcast team for CBS and you don’t know that all scoring plays are automatically reviewed now?
* Aaron Smith had an awful game. Period.
And it had nothing to do with his surgically repaired arm. What was the most worrisome about Smith is that he got physically manhandled.
No illustration is better than when Rice plunged in from the 1-yard line late in the first quarter to make it 14-0. Yanda drove Smith five yards off the ball that created all the room Rice needed to score.
Sorry, having a bum arm last year has nothing to do with getting pushed off the line of scrimmage.
* On Rice’s touchdown catch late in the first half to make it 21-7, you have to think Flacco was licking his chops when he saw Lawrence Timmons walk out with Rice to the near sidelines. Even if Timmons is fast, there is no way he could stay with Rice.
That was the theme in general all game. The Ravens got their matchup and executed it to perfection.
* The first play of the second half when Rashard Mendenhall fumbled after a crushing hit by Ngata, the entire problem with this play started when Pouncey had trouble identifying the ‘Mike’ linebacker.
Pouncey then appeared to snap the ball early that caused the chaos.
I am not going to sit here and pretend like I am smart enough to absolutely know whose fault it was, but if I was guessing, I’d say that David Johnson was responsible for blocking Ngata.
However, the overall blame I’d say would have to be put on Pouncey. There’s no question his early snap is what caused all the confusion in the first place.
* You do have to give Flacco a lot of credit, but some of that credit has to go to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
When Flacco threw the ball, he threw in quickly – either 3- or 5-step drops and got rid of the ball quickly. When Flacco wasn’t throwing on a rhythm, it would be because he was moving the pocket on some kind of waggle.
It was smart because it never gave the Steelers rush to get near Flacco.
* Ngata is a heck of a player and he showed that on back-to-back plays to start the third quarter (sack-fumble and tip pass that resulted in a pick). But there is no need for a player of his caliber to stand over Jon Scott after laying him out with a blindside hit and flex his muscles.
Not classy at all.
Grading the Starters
Heath Miller – A
Casey Hampton – A
Ike Taylor – A
Rashard Mendenhall – B
Mike Wallace – B
Chris Kemoeatu — B
Jonathan Scott – B-
Doug Legursky – C+
Maurkice Pouncey — C
LaMarr Woodley – C
James Farrior — C
Lawrence Timmons — C
David Johnson — C
Hines Ward — C
Troy Polamalu – C-
Ryan Clark — D
Willie Colon — D
Brett Keisel — D
Aaron Smith — D
James Harrison — D
Ben Roethlisberger – D
Bryant McFadden — F
– Mark Kaboly