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After futher review …


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


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. Dan says:

    Great commentary Mark, thanks. A few comments of my own…

    I believe on the Boldin TD, the other side with Ike had a slot receiver as well. So my guess is they wanted over the top help with those two WRs instead of just the one on McFadden’s side. The annoying thing is, McFadden had him covered, but got out-muscled for the ball. Badly.

    Cut blocks are legal, though if you ask KC, they would say no. However, on that first run, you said Casey Hampton was being blocked by Birk and then cut by Yanda. I’ll take your word for it since I (thankfully) didn’t DVR the game. That is NOT LEGAL. Its a high-low block. You are not allowed to cut a player that is already being engaged in a block by someone else. Easy way to blow out a knee.

    On that play, I’d also add that Farrior took himself out of the play before McKinnie swallowed him. Farrior charged ahead straight into him, but there were already players filling those gaps (mainly the heap that was Keisel & Hampton). He should have slided outside before stepping up there.

    Good feedback on Pouncey missing the assignment on that play, but Legursky still had a weak game in my opinion and looked overmatched physically (then again, so did most of the team).

    Also good observation about Aaron Smith. I noticed he didn’t look too hot during the preseason either. For that matter, Keisel wasn’t holding his own during running plays either (though he showed up somewhat in the pass rush a few times).

  2. Steelers7thHeaven says:

    early in the year, the defense looks a little old….and of course the offense play calling could be better, id rather see us be agressive on offense…..we seem to start off so slow…we did against the ravens, and the same in the superbowl…..teams are starting to get a feel on how to beat us…..hope that the defense can pick it up, or it will be long season!! BA, wht else can I say about him…hope he knows what he is doing this year.

  3. Kevin S says:

    I thought Sepulveda had a couple nice punts….

  4. tomthebombtracy says:

    The grades don’t reflect the score. Way too many Bs and Cs and not nearly enough Ds and Fs.

    Mark Kaboly — D+

  5. tomthebombtracy says:

    Is there any way we can get more Joe Starkey and less Dejan Kovalchuk on this site?

    Clearly, Kovalchuk knows nothing about football.

  6. mike hokslong says:

    Jon Scott gave up 2 sacks and that is a B performance?
    Bryant McFadden allowed 3 catches and that is an F?
    Heath Miller did nothing until garbage time of the 4th QTR and that is an A?
    Hampton had no impact on the game at all and got an A?
    Mendenhall had 7 carries for -5 yards after the first drive of the 2nd qtr and had a fumble. That is a B?

    You had an excellent article until the grades portion.

  7. mike hokslong says:

    And any running play that is designed for David Johnson to block Haloti Ngata in the backfield is GOING TO FAIL!

  8. Still Mill says:

    Nice report. Not entirely accurate, and the grade for stiffs like Woodley who stood around and did NOTHING was a bit high.

    Also, just realize — I’ve had the Still Mill moniker since 1998. Just sayin’.

  9. mark says:

    Love a soft grader. I want to go to your school…
    Fortunately, it’s a team sport, so we can just give a ‘D’ to the offensive players (and they were pretty offensive), and an ‘F’ to the defensive players (and there is no defense for their play).

  10. James Thompson says:

    Bob Smizik’s article in the Post Gazette is headlined: “One Game Does Not A Season Make” and that better be right, and then, there’s Dejan’s article in the Trib which says that the best approach at this stage is calm, since there is indeed 15 games left to go, and the next opponent is the Seattle Seahawks, and, hopefully, that game won’t be the debacle the opener was.

  11. daddeeekip says:

    This is more to all you fake Steelers fan that are so down on the Steelers, yes they lost, yes they looked horrendous, yes we can say alot of different things that could describe the loss. But the fact of the matter is they are 0-1 with 15 games to go, way to early to say what is going to happen the rest of the year. We all have our side personnel views of what we wished the Steelers did. If you are going to support the team then be there for good as well as the bad. Unfortunately they will lose again this season hopefully not in the same fashion. Hopefully some positives will come out of this defeat, sometimes a big dose of humility can shock you back in reality.

  12. jason says:

    I remember back in 08 when we got our butts thumped pretty good early in the season by the Eagles. It was ugly and everyone was freaking out. We won it all that year of course. lol. Colon probably done for year, sign Flozell and lets get to winning next 10 or so.

  13. Rick says:

    Good game review, we played like it was still preseason and didn’t matter.
    Player grades are a bit off, like McFadden wasn’t that bad. In fact, though a poor defensive performance, giving Ds to most of them is wrong. Give the scheme a D. Remember the send half when the offense was handing the ball over with short fields – the score could have been easily 42-7 or worse.

    Not one word was mentioned about the WIDE OPEN under patterns! Those allowed Flacco to get off passes quicker than he should have, period.

    I said what I did yesterday, 0-1 in a 16 game season.
    I worry only if we continue the this way.

    Now, to problem stuff – Right Tackle. Willie, recover soon, best to ya.

    Bring back Starks, move J. Scott to the right side. Allow Gilbert some playing time, if he is that good he will fit in nicely. Or simply move Scott to the right and use Gilbert.
    Still, bring in a veteran for backup or at least time to re-integrate.

    I have nothing against Flozel Adams, I think he is a very good OL. But not at ego-money levels.

  14. Cam Parks says:

    Their O-Line as a whole looked horrible. I know Suggs and Ngata are beasts but you would think they could block them effectively at least half of the time which wasnt the case. Suggs and Ngata looked like they were playing a junior college O-Line. Legurski has heart but in my opinion just isnt big enough or strong enough to be a starting guard in the NFL. Scott got used and abused on the outside. The defense looked old, slow and out of shape and out of position most of the time. All of this is true. But remember the Ravens spent their entire off season drafting, planning and focusing on this one game. I’ll give them their due, they accomplished what they needed to do but it is a long season and the Steelers have shown that they are great at coming back and playing well after taking a bad loss. Ive got faith they will right the ship. They have too much talent to play that poorly again. I cant wait for the Ravens to come to town. Go Steelers!!!!!

  15. Cattnips says:

    I still can’t believe it.

  16. JDub81 says:

    After further review …the Steelers have a defensive coordinator whose time has come and gone and a non-imaginative offensive coordinator whose time has never really came. A quarterback who has been more hype than good and a coach whose scowl is worse than his bite. This team will make the playoffs by virtue of an easy schedule….but will be expose in the playoffs.

  17. David says:

    Ok. Can we move on. We lost. We got our butts handed to us. This was as good a ass whooping any one can get. So its done. It’s over. That loss was 2 days ago, as in in the past. We are on to week 2 of the NFL season. Ain’t it great, I can’t wait!

  18. Bellwood Bill says:

    I think the O line looked overmatched because we sat back all off season and thought that we could get by with a terrible O LINE and still got the Super Bowl twice before lets try it again…NOT TO BE DONE AGAIN!!!. we need to spend a little cash on a Free Agent Tackle or guard and get our running game back. We draft a lineman every year in the mid to late rounds and hope…HOPE he works out..if not well then we hope he can be nasty and dirty enuff to survive in the NFL…Example…Kemo and Colon…both of them stink. Colon went to Hofstra and still cant count to 2 on the snap count and Kemo…well he just stinks it up most games. Lets surround Pouncey with players not POSERS. It will allow us to run and pass and WINNNNNNNNNNN.

  19. Scott P says:

    Now that neither of them have been signed, lets do bargain deals on Starks and Adams.
    I believe we can significantly upgrade both Tackle spots on the cheap at this point.

    I see where the Steelers signed a WR to the practice squad. It seems like they have spent significant energy this summer worrying about a position that is arguably the strongest on the team. At the same time, they have made no effort to fortify a suspect secondary. Speaking of which, my untrained eye saw Donovan play well enough to at least earn a spot on the practice squad. Am I crazy???

  20. pedro says:

    Flozell is retired, Starks is hurt

  21. Drew P says:

    Squeelers!!!!!!!! lame lame hahahahahahahahaha

  22. tomthebombtracy says:

    O-line and secondary are lame as usual.

    Typical, arrogant It-doesn’t-matter-because-we’re-the-Steelers attitude.

    This is no better than a 9-7 team.

  23. Ollie says:

    I keep saying this. The offensive line has been igmored for way too long and now we are in trouble. It appeares they are doing the same thing with the secondary.

  24. TheBus36 says:

    After watching what Brady and the Cheatriots did last night, is there any doubt they’ll hang at least 70 on the pathetic defense that made the always mediocre Flacco look all-world?

  25. TheBus36 says:

    I hope I’m wrong, but Brady’s done worse to us when our defense was infinitely better than it seems to be now.

  26. sjb says:

    After that performance, until they can win a game against a quality opponent this season I will be critical of the Steelers and their penchant for playing like they deserve to win just because they went to the Super Bowl the previous season, like in 2006 and 2009. As far as this team knowing how to bounce back, I clearly remember them not doing so well in that department in 2009 after a bad loss to the Bengals and that’s why I don’t think Seattle will be a push-over in the slightest and if the “we’re better than the rest of you because we went to the Super Bowl” Steelers don’t squash that arrogant mindset, they’ll be wondering why they are 0-2 just like they were 6-7 back then after starting out 6-2 and losing 5 straight (“they’ll bounce back” caliber games) to the dregs of the NFL. I think the only way this team could get worse is if they extended everyone’s contract.

    I think the worst thing that can happen to this obviously complacent team is to have a Seattle team that everyone including the Steelers thinks of as “soft” coming into town. They’d be much better of playing another game on the road against a playoff caliber team to test their resolve. They need a New England or Jets team to get some sort of focus back.

    And can someone explain to me why when down by over 20 points in the 4th quarter, Ben was still out there when the game was clearly long over? He was over-throwing everyone when not throwing INT’s and you gotta think the Ravens would have loved nothing better than to put a big hit on him and cause an injury. That was backup QB time if ever there was a thing and that just further shows how equally bad the coaching in that game was.

    As far as the O-line, maybe they can move Legarsky to center and Pouncey to guard until his sophomore slump is over. Colon and his new contract may go down as one of the worst Steelers signings ever. He never was any good and now what will wind up being another season lost to injury and playing less than one game in two seasons, they will have to pay him for another 4 years. Just curious, did he tear his triceps while holding? Must have since it’s real hard to injure yourself with a false start/offsides penalty.

    Defensively, the combination of teams having figured out effective ways to beat them and the fact that they are losing a step because of their age is something that Tomlin and Lebeau will have to make appropriate adjustments for soon or everyone watching tape will come up with an answer to their over the hill schemes and over the hill players. Add to that the typical early season bad tackling habits and lack of talent in the secondary and the season could implode long before the Ravens come to Pittsburgh.

  27. Bill Z says:

    Easy people, it’s only one game. The simple truth is the Steelers showed up with a fat head and they got their hats handed to them. I’m sure the Steelers were taking names and numbers during the fourth quarter, they’ll see them again in eight weeks.

  28. CoachD63 says:

    I wonder why we can’t be a little more creative against the good QBs and teams. Can’t we look at going Nickel or Dime more often – lay back and not rush? Also – wouldn’t Stevenon Selvester be a better option to cover Rice across the middle than Grandpa Farrior or Larry “Club” Foote???

  29. Chuck H. says:

    Don’t know which team showed up to play the Ravens, but it sure wasn’t the first team.
    We played like it was still pre-season and the game didn’t count. Ben was not at his best, but not as bad as the O line made him to look. The poor guy had Ravens in his backfield almost before he touched the ball. Still the same old D coordinator who doesn’t know how to swing the momentum the other way by using some trick plays or flea flickers to confuse the other team. I hope our team rebounds to play better the rest of the season. but in order to do this, we need to replace a few guys on the O line with some who know how to protect the Q back. GO. STILLERS!!!

  30. David says:

    The team that lost is the team that showed up. Which is to sat the Pittsburgh Steelers 1st team on offense and defense got out played and manhandled . We play a different team this week and hope the same don’t happen twice in a row, the Seahawks are coming off a loss due to special teams, so they are hungry. In over the Ravens til week 9.

  31. K2 says:

    Let’s hope there is more in the tank then what they showed us on Sunday…. Hugly start and we got whipped (team grade F)!

  32. David says:

    I would have given Ben Roethlisberger an F as well. 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles? Nuff said.

  33. Puma says:

    If the David Johnson missed block on Ngata is true, (granted we aren’t sure) then they really have to start looking at that issue. The same type of play caused the fumble in the Super Bowl, and it was also a missed block by Johnson. DJ is allowed to miss a block, but I still feel asking him to play “motion fullback” is a mistake. He’s an inline blocker at the line of scrimmage and #2 TE, period. And that’s good enough.

    Use a fullback or don’t. I don’t care, but stop asking guys to do something they don’t do well. Just saying, Vonta Leach made some great blocks Sunday. It’s in his skill set.. just ask James Harrison.

  34. Scott P says:

    I agree 100%. Arians acts like anybody can be a pseudo fullback and therefore we don’t need a real one. I hope that as they review the film Tomlin realizes the value that a guy like Leach brings to the table. Genius Bruce will never use a true full back on his own. Either Tomlin or Rooney will have to force the issue.

  35. Stephen P says:

    I agree with CoachD63 , Stevenson should have been in there to cover Rice.

  36. Dave says:

    Ben has not been good for a long time. Against good teams he struggles because the system requires long reads (except the pathetic wide-receiver screens).

    Empty backfield against the Ravens? Please. Dumb dumb dumb.

    We have a fullback: Redman. He blocks. We hardly use him and even use M. Moore!

    Where is the no-huddle? Our easily most effective offensive set.

    The D was on the field way too long and too often. Plus in poor field position most of the time.

    Decent quarterbacks carve us up with quick and underneath passes. This is the NFL today. Why are we not in the NFL on offense? (We all know his name.)

    I still have hope. We win when our D scores, not our O. Last year the Ravens beat us but our D bailed us out. Even against the Bengals we needed the D to score in order to push them around.

    Oh well. Here is to Sunday!

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