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December 6, 2010 - Ray Eckenrode
BLEEDING BLACK AND GOLD
Polamalu’s big play turns ugly game in Steelers favor
It was over when:
+ Joe Flacco, who had been so accurate previously, threw two terrible passes on third and fourth downs of the Ravens’ final series, first turning his receiver around then short-hopping him.
Play of the day:
+ Troy Polamalu continued his month-long streak of amazing play, flying off Flacco’s blind side for a strip sack with four minutes left that set up the Steelers winning touchdown, which was a pretty amazing play in its own right. Facing a all-out blitz on 3rd-and-goal from the 10, Ben Roethlisberger took the only option he had, a hot route to Isaac Redman, who finally earned the nickname “Red Zone” by plowing over two Ravens DBs en route to the end zone.
+ The Steelers offensive line is an even bigger mess than usual right now. Flozell Adams, who’s been a stud at right tackle, was injured again Sunday, this time it’s an ankle. Of equal concern is the fact that rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, who was so good so soon, has been eaten alive the last two games.
+ On the other side of the ball, Bryant McFadden couldn’t have a bigger bullseye on his back right now. To be fair, he was playing with a bad hamstring Sunday, but you can bet the ball is going to be coming McFadden’s way a lot over the next four weeks. + The Steelers put on a clinic in mismanaging field position in the game’s first five minutes. First, Will Allen’s hold on a punt, moved the Steelers from the Ravens 42 to their own 38. Then, Daniel Sepulveda did what he usually does. On what should have been a situational punt, he kicked it in the end zone.
+ If Sepulveda is done for the season, it’s no big issue. He piles up gaudy stats on kicks that mean nothing and consistently fails to execute on important kicks.
Paralysis by analysis:
+ Cris Collinsworth offered one of the most disingenuous pieces of analysis ever in the second quarter, saying Ray Lewis was “all about what’s best for the team.” Insiders know the Ravens have been trying to get Lewis off the field on third-down situation for two years, because of his deteriorating coverage skills, and he refuses to sit.
+ On the flip side, both Collinsworth and Michaels fairly pointed out all the non-calls against the Ravens.
+ Terry McAulay’s crew was brutal, missing Haloti Ngata going to Ben Roethlisberger’s head early and swallowing their whistles on a textbook defenseless receiver hit on Heath Miller. But, they were just getting started. In the fourth quarter, they penalized the Steelers for a ticky tack illegal formation on an offensive tackle that took away a key first down then for a gunner on the punt team running out of bounds, something that happens five times a game and is rarely called. Then, after not allowing Michael Oher to false start the entire game, they went ahead and allowed him to start early on every pass play on the Ravens’ final drive.
And now a word from our sponsors :
+ “Mommy, where does breakfast come from?” Really, McDonald’s? Really? That’s the best you got?
+ OK, Christmas is a time to believe in magic, but there’s still no way they get that Lexus inside their house.
@dougkeklak: Ray Lewis, the absolute KING of fake hype. (Blogger’s note: True that!)
@sportsguy33: How do you turn Ben Roethlisberger into Derek Anderson? Break his foot, break his nose and make it 35 degrees + windy. (Blogger’s note: It was funny in the first quarter. About three hours later, not so much.)
@15MinutesBlog: A smart offensive coordinator might throw a screen in Suggs’ direction. (Blogger’s note: Still waiting.)
@WhitlockJason: Flacco two bad passes on Balt final drive. Third-down throw just as bad. He's not a Super Bowl quarterback.
@JasonSipes (via Facebook): Football is a game played by men. Just ask Ben and Heath. Wow, those guys are really tough. (Blogger’s note: C’mon Sipes, take it to Twitter.)
We were right:
+ In our rare win and cover prediction, we noted Flacco’s penchant for cluelessness in the pocket and Polamalu’s streak of big plays and those two factors came together on the biggest play of the game.
We were wrong:
+ We really thought Ray Rice was going to be a huge factor in this game, but it seemed like the Ravens completely forgot about him.
+ The Bengals are a mess and they played the Saints tough Sunday before folding in the final seconds. We expect them to play the Steelers to the final whistle next week and even the slightest letdown could find the Steelers back in second place.
+ With the Chargers and Colts both losing, the AFC playoff picture is getting fairly clear. The Chiefs and Jaguars are in the driver’s seats in the West and South and the Ravens and the losers of tonight’s Jets-Pats game still hold multi-game leads over the next closest wild-card contender.