It wasn’t pretty, but a win is still a win. That’s the way most of Steeler Nation must have been feeling after watching the Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens 23-20.
Following a 5-game losing streak, the Steelers have won two consecutive games to keep their playoff hopes alive. Both wins have been narrow wins, but we’ll take wins of any type at this point.
There were quite a few positive aspect to the game. Probably the most important is that the Steelers defense did not allow a single point during the fourth quarter. When was the last time we were able to say that?
Not only did the defense not allow the Ravens to score in the fourth quarter, but they also made key defensive plays in the 4th quarter to stop the Ravens. That has been one of the primary differences between the 2008 Steelers defense and the 2009 edition. The 2008 unit made plays when the team needed them, while the 2009 unit doesn’t. At least they didn’t until this game.
On the Ravens final possession of the game, the Ravens were driving when LaMarr Woodley sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco on 2 consecutive plays. On the second sack, Woodley also forced a fumble which was recovered by rookie Ziggy Hood. That pretty much sealed the victory for the Steelers.
Other positives for the Steelers included Rashard Mendenhall surpassing 1,000 yards rushing for the season. That is a first for Mendenhall. Hopefully, it will be the first of many for the talented young rusher.
Another milestone was Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger becoming the first Steelers quarterback to pass for over 4,000 yards. As Big Ben is so fond of reminding us, the Steelers are now a pass-first team. His new Steelers passing record just proves that point.
Despite the win and the many positive performances on the Steelers side of the ball, the game was not a total masterpiece. The Steelers allowed the Ravens to rush for 175 yards. Ray Rice accounted for 141 of those yards. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am really starting to hate that guy.
Besides the rushing yards allowed, the Steelers also got some lucky breaks due to penalties by the Ravens. The Ravens had two touchdowns called back due to penalties. They had a third touchdown dropped in the endzone by Derrick Mason, who is usually their most dependable receiver.
So just as the Steelers have often left games this season feeling that they beat themselves, the Ravens probably felt the same way. But who cares how the Ravens feel? This win keeps our playoff hopes alive, and so we’ll happily accept it.
The NFC playoff teams are set. The only thing that has to be resolved is the playoff seeding.
In the AFC, on the other hand, things are as clear as mud. Seven teams have a chance to win the two remaining wildcard playoff positions. Five of the teams have an 8-7 record going into the last week of the season, and two teams have a 7-8 record. Tie breakers are certain to be needed to determine which teams will ultimately make the playoffs.
The only thing that we know for certain is that the Steelers have to win their final game. If they don’t do that, all other discussion becomes moot.
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