Ravens 20, Steelers 17 (OT): Pittsburgh Loses Without Polamalu, Roethlisberger, Kemoeatu, Goligoski, And Kunitz

I again didn’t feel like writing about the Steeler game this week, partly because I was out of town, partly cause I found the outcome simultaneously inevitable and bland, but I guess if I’m writing a blog about Pittsburgh sports I can’t just pout any time the Steelers lose, so here’s a quick recap. Then I’ll resume sucking my thumb and sneaking back into my crawlspace. You bunch of meanies.

Against the Bengals and Chiefs, I honestly never even entertained the thought that the Steelers might end up losing the games until the final minutes of each; much of this was straight-up naive arrogance on my part, but also, the Steelers appeared to be in control of both games, and given their extensive history of pulling off “what were you worried about?” fourth-quarter go-ahead drives at will last season, I’ve just grown spoiled with the idea that the Steelers are just going to prevail no matter what, just as the bloodied, limping Bruce Willis is always going to have the last laugh in any Die Hard movie.

Unfortunately, the past three weeks have been a different kind of Die Hard movie: A really boring one with and irritating ending. This has nothing to do with Die Hard, I’m just pissed about the game and attempted to write something more colorful than just “I’m pissed,” but ended up just regressing back to literally writing “I’m pissed.” And I am pissed.

I joked before the Ravens game that because the Ravens hadn’t been pulling their standard B.S. Ravens luck this season — they’ve actually lost several games on highly unlucky missed field goals and some lame penalty calls — that they had to have been saving up for one giant helping of Ravens luck against the Steelers. And wouldn’t you know it, Ben Roethlisberger finds out at the eleventh hour he can’t play, Charlie Batch is out for 6 weeks, and Dennis Dixon is starting his first NFL game on the road in Baltimore, has only two days to prepare, and the Steelers are missing Troy Polamalu, Chris Kemoeatu, and of course Aaron Smith, and the 2 1/2 Ravens point spread took an unsurprising leap to 7 1/2.

Random thoughts:

— Dixon ended up handling himself impressively, guiding the Steelers to a 17-14 lead and an eventual overtime, but his limitations were extremely apparent in the second half, when my cries of “throw the ball on first down!” quickly dissipated into “…oh, they can’t complete anything, can they?”

— The secondary took turns sucking, with Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark and William Gay each randomly deciding to just be terrible on a particular play here or there. We all knew Polamalu was important to the defense, but when he’s out, it’s just inconceivable how much instantly worse the individuals in the secondary appear to play.

Rashard Mendenhall was a nice bright spot for the Steelers; he’d been productive the last couple weeks, with Bruce Arians and the offensive line both showing a sudden willingness to actually run the ball effectively. Against Baltimore, Mendenhall was hitting holes, beating guys one on one, breaking tackles, and even turned in two impressive run after catches that might end up helping Roethlisberger on blitzes in the future.

— Speaking of runs after catches, that third and 22? Whatever.

— So, the Steelers find themselves at 6-5, with games at home against Oakland, Green Bay, and Baltimore remaining, and ones on the road against Cleveland and Miami. They’ll almost certainly need to win 4 of those 5, which seems extremely plausible, as long as the injury luck turns; they should be favored in all five of them as long as Roethlisberger is playing, and there’s little reason to expect the Steelers won’t be able to pull it off.

And if they don’t, I guess Baltimore or frickin’ Jacksonville will make the playoffs, and that’s ridiculous, so I’m not giving up on anything just yet. Except maybe on Mewelde Moore’s ability to run forward.

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2 Responses to “Ravens 20, Steelers 17 (OT): Pittsburgh Loses Without Polamalu, Roethlisberger, Kemoeatu, Goligoski, And Kunitz”

  1. Mark Says:

    “The secondary took turns sucking, with Ike Taylor, Anthony Smith and William Gay… ” Now the secondary was pretty bad – and I’m not sure if you meant to refer to Ryan Clark or Tyrone Carter here – but neither was as bad as Anthony Smith!

  2. Dan Hopper Says:

    Eh, wrote that in 10 seconds and was too pissed to re-read it. Or maybe I’m still pissed at Anthony Smith for his poor performance for the Jags this Sunday.

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