As we all expected, the Steelers and Ravens engaged in a defensive struggle on Monday night. The game was truly a tale of two halves. And the two halves were polar opposites of one another.
In the first half, the Steelers’ offense was completely dominated by the Ravens’ defense. Rashard Mendenhall was stuffed for no gain on his first carry. That would prove to be a precursor of what was to come for the rookie in his first NFL start. Mendenhall would end up with 30 yards rushing on 9 carries before leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall
With Willie Parker already out with an injury, Mendenhall’s injury left the Steelers with only Carey Davis and Mewelde Moore as healthy running backs. When Davis twisted his ankle later in the game, Moore was left as the lone healthy running back on the Steelers’ roster.
While most thought that Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco would be overwhelmed by the pressure of his first appearance on Monday Night Football, Flacco showed his doubters that he was ready for prime time. In the first half, Flacco actually looked much more polished than Ben Roethlisberger did. While Roethlisberger spent much of the first half on his back, Flacco looked like Joe Montana. He was cool under pressure, and he had the Ravens up 13-3 at the half after throwing a touchdown pass to TE Daniel Wilcox.
Unlike last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers offense seemed to make adjustments at halftime, and looked like an entirely diffferent team in the second half. Ben Roethlisberger attributed the difference to the no-huddle offense. He said that he asked the coaches if the offense could start using the no-huddle offense to accelerate the pace, and it worked like a charm.
In the second half, it was Roethlisberger who looked like Joe Montana. He made quick reads, and was able to avoid the Ravens’ blitz. He connected with WR Santonio Holmes early in the 3rd quarter for a Steelers touchdown. 15 seconds later, the Steelers scored again when James Harrison forced a fumble on Joe Flacco. LaMarr Woodley dived on the ball, and when he realized there were no Ravens in his vicinity, he got up and ran it into the endzone. In less than 30 seconds, the Steelers went from being down 3-10, to being up 17-10.
Roethlisberger under pressure.
Contrarily, Joe Flacco spent much of the 2nd half on his back. While he looked calm and comfortable in the first half, he looked hurried and uncomfortable in the second half. The Steelers defense applied constant pressure on Flacco, and made him look like the rookie that he is.
By the end of regulation, the two teams found themselves tied 20-20.
In overtime, the Ravens won the coin toss and chose to receive. The Steelers’ defense held them just like they had done pretty consistently since halftime. The Ravens were forced to punt. On their first overtime possession, the Steelers were able to get the ball close enough for Jeff Reed to attempt a 46 yard field goal. Reed’s field goal split the uprights, but the Ravens called timeout right before the kick, and Reed was forced to kick it again. Apparently, the Ravens don’t know that Reed is the coolest kicker in the NFL. As expected, Reed made his 2nd attempt, and the Steelers won 23-20.
The Steelers’ win was their 14th consecutive home win on Monday Night Football. That is an NFL record for home effectiveness on MNF.
Rashard Mendenhall left the game with a fractured shoulder. Will be put on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
Steelers guard Kendall Simmons left the game with an achilles injury. Coach Tomlin said that he will have to be placed on injured reserve. Out for the rest of the season.
Running back Carey Davis sprained his ankle, but it is not thought to be serious.
Linebacker Andre Frazier was injured on the first play of the game. Fans got a scare when Frazier didn’t move after a collision. He was carted off the field on a stretcher, but tests proved to be negative, and he seems to be okay.
Keyaron Fox was injured on special teams. Injury not thought to be serious.
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