It was 12 plays that started at the eight yard line. It was a four point lead that was supposed to be held up as had been done many times in the past, but in this game after taking a fourth quarter lead the Pittsburgh Steelers defense couldn't close out a win against the Baltimore Ravens. Instead this once elite defense allowed their rivals to march 92 yards to capture the lead and the win at Heinz Field.
The secondary allowed a 21 yards completion to Anquan Boldin, then 13 more yards to LaQuan Williams, then nine more. The Ravens next faced a third down that they couldn't convert, which lead to the fourth and one when it seemed it was in the bag. Then Joe Flacco stepped up and made a huge play, which was a ten yard strike to Bolden. Next it was two yards here, an incompletion and another third down. Flacco again stepped up and hit Boldin for 11 more yards. Then came two incomplete passes and another third down, and for a third time Flacco made a play when he had to as he hit Torrey Smith in the endzone for the touchdown. Through all 12 play there was no tough defensive play, no one to create a turnover or even come close to putting pressure on Flacco, which allowed him the time to pick apart the Steelers secondary.
The Ravens strategy of putting Boldin the slot was very smart as it matched him up with William Gay who simply couldn't keep up. In all Boldin finished with seven catches and 88 yards, while Flacco had 300 yards one touchdown and was something most have never seen him be and that is clutch.
Clutch is a word that people used to use to describe the Steelers defense but after the showing on Sunday night people may need to rethink their adjectives. While one game doesn't make a judgment true, the fact is they were unable to do things throughout the entirety of the game and not just during that final drive. The defense allowed the Ravens to convert 14 of 21 third down opportunities and allowed the Ravens to hold the ball for 33 minutes. The big reason for the time of possession differential was simply because the Steelers couldn't get off the field.
Despite some of the stats there were some that played above and beyond what they were called to do like James Harrison who had eight tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, and was the only one who really laid good hits on Flacco. Ziggy Hood also played a noticeably decent game as he seems to get better with every game. While there are many young players emerging no one was able to make the big play when the game was on the line, which could be a sign that times are changing. The older players are closer to the end of their careers and being able to close out games against the elite might start becoming difficult.
With this loss now behind them the defense has to start thinking about the Cincinnati Bengals before they can get their bye week where everyone can rest. If the Steelers get LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Jason Worilds and others back it will help matters more than hurt. With those players potentially coming back it might be the right time for the Steelers to get hot again and for the second time this season overcome a tough loss to Baltimore.
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