Monday, December 15, 2008

Steel a Victory

It was a rough night to say the least. I had too much to drink before the game and can’t remember much of the first half.

However, I wish it was the second half I couldn’t remember, especially the Steelers’ 90-yard, game-winning drive with just seconds left on the clock.

When the Ravens were leading 9-3 and 9-6, I didn’t have faith that the Ravens would be able to hold the Steelers to just a few field goals the entire game. These are, after all, the same Steelers that found a way to score 17 points in seven minutes to beat the Cowboys last week after trailing 13-3. But the Ravens, especially their defense, laid down when it mattered most and essentially let the Steelers offense walk down the field to win the game.

Yes, the referees were horrible. They blew a first down spot and called a Santonio Holmes catch in the endzone a touchdown even though the ball never crossed the plane. They did this even after reviewing the play, too! But one bad call by the referees should not erase the Steelers’ drive of 90 yards, and the defense’s inability to stop them.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Ravens dropped several passes and Cam Cameron went conservative when he should have been aggressive. The Ravens love to chuck the rock around the field, and use their nifty trick plays when they are playing the Browns, Bengals and other assorted bad teams, but clinging to a narrow lead against the Steelers, they became the same old “don’t lose the game” Ravens from the Billick-era again.

That said, when Joe Flacco was throwing the ball, he was inaccurate. He completed a pathetic 39 percent of his passes. He had a chance to win the game late, with just seconds on the clock, but forced a pass into triple coverage, which was picked off for a second time.

Is Joe hitting that fabled rookie wall? I don’t think so. I think he is hitting the “I’m starting to play better defenses” wall.

On the positive side of things, Le’Ron McClain managed to gain a respectable 86 yards against the #1 defense in the league, but that is about the only positive thing you can say about the offense today. The receivers dropped too many passes and the Ravens gained only 202 yards of offense the entire game.

In short, it was a typical Steelers win. They kept the game close and gave themselves a chance to win at the end of the game and were helped out by the referees. Oh and remember that tough four-game stretch that the Steelers had? You know the one Ravens fans were pointing to and saying the division was as good as theirs?

@ NE – W
@ BAL – W

Yes, they still have Tennessee in Tennessee, but the Titans were just beaten by the Texans and don’t look anything close to the 10-0 team they were just a few weeks ago. I think the Steelers will end that tough four-game stretch undefeated. Much respect. They won the AFC North for a reason.

Today’s Ravens loss also significantly hurt their chances to make the playoffs too. With the Ravens travelling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys next Saturday at 9-5, the Ravens are giving themselves a small margin of error to make the post-season. However, they still control their own destiny. If they win out, they’re in. If they lose to Dallas, they need help assuming they can beat the Jaguars at home in the last game of the season to end the year at 10-6.

So, can the Ravens regroup in Dallas after a tough loss at home to the Steelers? Can the Ravens win the last game in Dallas Stadium against a Cowboys team as hungry as them to make the playoffs?

It’ll be a tough order. Stay tuned.

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