The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Steelers/Ravens
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Rashard Mendenhall: Even though he averaged only slightly more than 3 yards per carry, he was grinding and tough all game, and rarely went down on first contact. Both of his touchdown runs were excellent efforts, as well, and his pass protection was solid as well. It appears he’s ready to break into the elite class of NFL running backs.
Charlie Batch on the go-ahead drive: Batch didn’t look good for a large portion of the game, save for an outstanding throw to Antwaan Randle El to set up the Steelers’ first touchdown, but he stood in the pocket against the rush and delivered the kind of throws that you would hope to see from a veteran to keep the Steelers’ second TD drive alive.
William Gay: On what looked like it would be the game’s defining series, Gay made excellent plays on consecutive downs, denying both Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin touchdown catches. He looks to have found himself again after a very bad 2009 season.
Jeff Reed: I know that his kicks were both tough, 45+ yard attempts, but he gets to kick on Heinz Field a lot more often than other kickers in the league. Therefore, he needs to be held to a higher standard than others do when kicking on his home surface.
The Final Drive: After an inspiring stand at the goal line to preserve a lead, the Steelers’ defense seemed to have no answers for Joe Flacco on the Ravens’ winning series. Bryant McFadden got turned inside out by T.J. Houshmandzadeh, probably the last guy Steelers fans wanted to see catch the winning touchdown.
James Farrior: He made some big plays to stop a drive or two by the Ravens, but he looked slow and unable to keep up on more than a few occasions, notably Willis McGahee’s touchdown run and on a third down conversion by Le’Ron McClain.
The offense with short fields: Two Baltimore turnovers deep in their own territory and no points? The Steelers needed to do a better job cashing in on those chances–and the blame doesn’t just fall on Jeff Reed.
Penalties: The Steelers got their money’s worth in this department, committing 11 for 88 yards. None were bigger than a few false starts that took away any chance the Steelers might pass to ice the game when they still had the lead, and a holding on Daniel Sepulveda’s punt that put the Ravens in outstanding instead of merely very good field position.
Ike Taylor: I know he had an interception, and I think all Steelers fans were surprised to see that he actually held onto the ball, but it’s a miracle he doesn’t take one crippling penalty per game for doing something stupid after the whistle. I know that trash talking is a big part of the game, but when Ike does it, even his teammates seem to shake their heads.