By Zach Metkler of GZ Sports Report, special to the Point of Pittsburgh
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After the bye week, the Steelers now continue their downward spiral of three straight losses. If you were able to tough it out through the full 60 minutes of the Steelers 21-14 loss to the Ravens, then you were the biggest winner of this game.
James Harrison: Harrison was hands down the player of the game for the Steelers. At 38-years old, Harrison continues to be a force as a pass rusher by creating constant pressure and (finally) putting together stats in the sack department (2). The Steelers need to collectively make more strides with their sack total and Harrison will need to continue having games like this for that to happen.
Ryan Shazier: Realistically, all of the Steelers linebackers were winners against the Ravens, but Shazier stood out more than anyone not named James Harrison. Shazier was constantly flying around the field and causing headaches for the Ravens’ run game. Add in his 9 total tackles and 1 sack and it is easy to see what having a healthy Shazier in the lineup can do for the Steelers’ defense.
Artie Burns: Although he was far from perfect, props to Burns for tallying his first career interception against the Ravens in his first career start. His interception was the first by a Steelers rookie since 2006. Burns still needs to improve a lot as a run defender but there is no denying that he is a pure coverage corner. The sky is the limit for the young corner.
Eli Rogers: In the second half, Rogers was just about the only receiver that was able to make plays for the Steelers. While Brown was double- and triple-teamed for most of the game, Rogers was able to make plays after Darrius Heyward-Bey’s injury. Rogers was targeted 10 times and had 6 receptions for 103 yards, marking his first career 100-yard game. If there were any real positive players on offense against the Ravens, Rogers was it.
The Offense: I could realistically list every single offensive player for this loss but instead of wasting both your time and mine, I will just say this: this was a horrendous performance for the ages for the Steelers. Well into the second half, the Steelers had more penalty yards than they did total yards of offense (more on that later). Ben Roethlisberger’s stats look much better than they actually were. Before the last 3 drives for the Steelers, Roethlisberger had 61 yards passing, meaning that 203 yards came during the last 3 drives. Le’Veon Bell was pretty much a non-factor throughout the entire game and much of that was due to the Ravens absolutely shutting down the Steelers’ run game. The Ravens front seven played an excellent game of football and were constantly applying pressure on Roethlisberger and Bell. To say they dominated the line of scrimmage would be an understatement.
Chris Boswell: This game was not solely Boswell’s fault. But if there is any one play that perfectly summed up the performance against the Ravens (and the Steelers season as a whole), it would be the onside kick attempt in the closing minute of the game. I understand what Boswell was trying to accomplish with the kick, but that play was one of the worst attempts that will ever likely be witnessed on a football field. It was not a good call and with a chance to make one last attempt to win, you can’t call “fancy” plays like that and expect them to work.
Side note, the funny thing is that Boswell successfully converted an onside kick like the one against the Ravens while he was at Rice. If you get the chance, look it up. It is actually pretty awesome.
Coaching: This applies to just about all of the coaches except for Keith Butler, who finally coached an aggressive game and his defense played well enough to put the offense in a position to win… if that offense didn’t look like a peewee football team for the first 52 minutes of the game. Todd Haley can’t take all of the blame for this offensive performance but his choice in plays is becoming increasingly predictable. This offense should be one of the best in the NFL but right now is average at best. But the coaching issues start at the top. I have been a staunch supporter of Mike Tomlin and for many years and am never quick to blame him. But this is getting out of hand. While Tomlin is nowhere near on the hot seat for the Steelers, the man needs to do some soul searching. The Steelers have been extremely undisciplined this season, which senseless penalties seemingly being endless. False starts, illegal formations, too many men on the field, you name it. Those penalties are undisciplined, unnecessary penalties. At some point, Tomlin needs to take control of this team. Something has to change. The team can’t continue to drop games on the road in the fashion that they are. Of the Steelers four losses, the Eagles, Dolphins, and Ravens were all on the road. And all three were terrible performances. The playcalling was atrocious, the penalties were enough to cover an entire season, and all were far from close games. There is plenty of football left to play, but Tomlin needs to change something if this team wants to make the playoffs let alone win a Super Bowl.