Steelers Fall to the Ravens, 13-10: Simple Truths That Need To Be Accepted And Addressed.

A game that Steelers fans always look forward to, quickly takes a turn for the worst with the loss of Big Ben against Kansas City.  Last night’s Baltimore game wasn’t exactly a game we, as fans, looked forward to with a lot of confidence.  It was hard to be anything but concerned after seeing a glimpse of our quarterback situation, as Byron Leftwich finished off the KC game.  Of course, there was plenty of fan, player, and even announcer optimism going into the Ravens game, despite seeing the evidence with our own eyes, the amount of talent Pittsburgh was lacking at its helm.

The game is over.  Pittsburgh tallies one in the loss column.  A mound of issues forms as to why the Steelers couldn’t get 3 or 6 more points on the board.  Leftwich seems to be experiencing some ailments after last night’s game.  Charlie Batch is next in line behind him.  Ben is still injured and could possibly be out for the rest of the season if his rib situation is the worst case scenario.  Pittsburgh is far from out of the woods.

Lets address the issues that are factors in last night’s loss and will need to be addressed going forward without Ben.

I’ll get this out of the way first.  The fact that Byron Leftwich and Charlie Batch are what the Steelers have to fall back on if/when Ben goes down, is an issue in and of itself.  It is my opinion that Batch is the better of the two backups.  My biggest concern besides the massive gap of talent difference between starter and backups, is that our 100% healthy backups seem to be more prone to injury than our starting QB who takes hits game after game.  It’s rare that either backup lasts an entire game without getting hurt, let alone multiple.  The Steelers need a backup that can be groomed by Ben and be reliable in the offensive scheme, because Ben seems to end up hurt, in some manner, every season.  This is a coaching/management issue that has followed the Steelers since Ben was brought up and has only gotten worse over time.

Receiving is a very reliable option for the Steelers offense… at least it was under Ben.  Clearly you can’t rely on your receivers to do the damage they usually do, if the ball can’t be consistently delivered to them.  Leftwich had some decent passes last night.  All the good surely does not outweigh the bad.  Being impressed by the opening drive is a little irrational.  The pass to Wallace only counted because of a pass interference call and Leftwich’s run for the endzone was fluky and never even showed signs of being possible later in the game.  That all being said, I don’t think I can do much faulting of the receivers for less than quality games under backup leadership.  Business-wise, they need to catch every ball they can get their fingers on.  Realistically, who knows how many opportunities they’ll get to do that, if any at all, which makes it all the more important to catch everything remotely catch-able.

The Steelers have come a LONG way on defense.  They are showing up game after game and playing hard from start to finish.  They have been effective in containing key players and stopping big drive opportunities.  Even Ike Taylor is covering and not getting flagged anymore.  Games like this one against the Ravens, brings a big stat to light and is starting to show how much it’s costing the Steelers.  The defense forced not a single turnover Sunday night.  Worse yet, the Steelers have ZERO defensive points on the season.  At the very least, get your offense additional drives and back on the field as quickly as possible with a forced turnover/takeaway.  In situations like now, where the offense isn’t as reliable as it once was under Ben, take the game into your own hands and put points on the board yourself.  Winning teams are teams that can and do score on more than just offense.  We really miss those extra 6 points we would see fairly regularly with Troy on the field.

Even though the Steelers run offense seems to be doing well, the health of our running backs is constantly in question.  Redman is back out with a concussion.  Mendenhall did not take the majority of the snaps, but he was in there and had some solid plays against the Ravens.  No word if that was the plan or if he’s still not 100% and only took the field when he was needed.  Dwyer ran the majority of the plays Sunday night, but seemed to be motioning to the sidelines a lot to be taken out.  Is he injured again or still not 100% from his last injury?  The run game seems to be a constant rotation of who is healthy and who gets hurt.

So QB depth is not deep at all.  Receivers may not be as much of a winning factor with a backup QB taking snaps BUT that makes the need so much greater for them to capitalize on everything that comes their way.  The defense is playing really well now, but their lack of defensive points on the board could be considered a contributing factor in every game the Steelers have lost by a one possession margin.  The run game is strangely effective despite all three of the running backs fighting rotating injuries.  I’d say that about encompasses the Steelers right now and if these areas aren’t addressed, every game without Ben in the lineup, will surely be difficult to watch.


Honorable mentions:

1. Great game Emanuel Sanders.

2. The game should never have come down to this, but the coaching call to throw a fade pass to Wallace on a 3rd and 2 on the Ravens 4 yard line, with the entire outcome of the game on the line, was just plain awful.