1. With their B game, with their 3rd string quarterback, a week after one of the lousiest performances in recent memory and in their arch rival’s own stadium … it appears that the reports of this team’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
2. Normally I am such a suave and subtle guy …
But this game … the last time I got this caught up in a football game was the Super Bowl against the Packers. I don’t know about you guys but when a game just sucks you in like this one … I have to sit there and try to calm myself down. I start to sweat, my heart rate increases and perspective goes out the window.
3. The broadcast joined the game from the Colts-Lions game at about 10 minutes left in the first quarter – after a commercial break of course. Just in time to see Johnson convert a 3rd and 2 and then Dwyer rip off an impressive run.
4. But on balance, the Ravens appeared to have the game under control. On the drive in which the Ravens went up 13-3 (13 points unanswered at that point with the Steelers stacking up 3 and outs on offense) I figured it was over. Mainly because in that drive Flacco displayed remarkable touch on two passes. I was thinking that if he was going to perform like that, the Steelers would not be able to beat them.
5. It wasn’t just Flacco it was the early effectiveness of Pierce, the almost-blocked punt, Ike Taylor and Woodley being unavailable, Sanders fumbling as he was streaking to the end zone, the Raven’s defensive line seemed to be getting great penetration, it took the offense 13 minutes to get a first down in the second quarter, (I can go on if you’d like) …
6. However, my cynicism had no answer for Charlie Batch leading Dwyer into the endzone.
7. I mean, it had occurred to me on Saturday that yeah, whereas it sucked to lose the way the Steelers did the past two weeks and to lose Ben for the most critical stretch of the season; it also set the stage perfectly to make the Ravens fan’s head explode if Batch could lead them to a win.
8. Did you notice that Batch was suddenly overthrowing receivers on the deep ball this week? Did he adjust or did they?
9. I’m no intellectual football genius …
(this space reserved for snarky rejoinders)
… but that play in which Brown attempts to throw a pass back across the field … that was stupid. Tim Tebow Himself
... couldn’t have made that throw.
10. However, as thrilling and satisfying as this game was, the predictions of a Super Bowl run are as premature as some people’s thoughts that the season was over after they lost to the Browns. If you feel the urge to call a sports talk show and start talking Super Bowl I have a remedy for you: watch the game again. Yes, there were some great moments but it was clearly the Steelers B game (you could make an argument for C+).
11. I noticed a couple of trends in the sports media’s thoughts on this game:
· All of a sudden Charlie Batch is a greatly respected football player.
· The Steelers-Ravens rivalry is continually touted as one of the best, if not the best, NFL rivalries.
· Suddenly the Steelers are the “team nobody wants to face down the stretch”.
12. Wallace … there is no way the Steelers are going to be able to make this guy happy. And the main person to blame for that inability is Mike Wallace. He is too inconsistent. He would make a great third receiver but I am sure there is a team out there that will give him big money this offseason. That pass hit you in the hands, Mike. You know which one I am talking about.
13. Ok, it was true that no one was covering the ambient sound guy but that doesn’t mean Batch should have picked him over a wide open Wallace. I’m just sayin …
14. I noticed that both teams had trouble running up the middle but had better success bouncing it outside. Both Dwyer and Rice got TDs with this strategy.
15. This guy makes good points especially as pertains to the ranking of the AFC North QBs:
16. A special “thank you” to John Harbaugh for issuing that ridiculous challenge and thereby wasting one of his timeouts and speeding the end of the game. Kisses and hugs, Harbs! Especially seeing as you won’t get any from Tomlin (who is bigger than you, BTW).
17. Will the Ravens fans cry about officiating? You betcha! Do they have legitimate gripes? Maybe on that Foote semi-sack but not on the roughing the passer call. The refs had let a couple of incidents slide but enough was enough. We, as fans, fail to remember that calls like “roughing the passer” tend to address patterns of behavior as often as they address specific incidents.
18. There were a lot of significant plays in this game (both good and bad). The Dwyer TD was clearly important but that Harrison sack/strip was a key play. A home crows that was itching for something to cheer about finally had it and … James Harrison took it away again. What a Grinch that guy is.
19. But for Heath Miller this offense would be nowhere.
20. Perspective: The Ravens were playing poorly. I choose to look at this game and say that it was just as much about an overrated Ravens team as it was about anything specific the Steelers did. I am stunned by the fact that this team turned the ball over 8 times last week (which was the most turnovers in a game since 2001) and was still in it until the final gun. And, as I point out in #1, this was NOT their A game. Heaven help me but I am beginning to believe that this team could make some noise in the playoffs. Even when they’re bad they are good. How’s that for bizarre optimism?