Coulda, woulda, shoulda. The Steeler coulda won. The Steelers woulda won. The Steelers shoulda won. But ultimately, the Steelers didn’t win.
The Steelers fell to the Baltimore Ravens by a score of 17-14, and now find themselves tied with the Ravens for 1st place in the AFC North.
The Steelers had a chance to go 4-0 without Ben Roethlisberger. A very real chance. In fact, only 34 seconds separated them from that goal. But a late touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to T.J. Houshmandzadeh spoiled the Steelers’ hopes of going undefeated with0ut their starting quarterback.
The game was yet another hard-fought battle that has become typical for this rivalry. And for the fifth time in the last five meetings between the two teams, the margin of victory was 4 points or less.
There are lots of reason why the Steelers lost. Too many penalties. Predictable play calling on offense. Missed field goals by Jeff Reed. Ineffective coverage by the defensive backs. Not enough pressure on Joe Flacco. Charlie Batch’s inability to find receivers. Blah, blah, blah.
But the point is not to place blame. Yes, we lost. But Baltimore had something to do with the loss too. It wasn’t only due to the things that we didn’t do. It was also due to the things that they DID do.
Ultimately, we win as a team, and we lose as a team. So trying to assess blame is counter-productive.
Rather than focus on why we lost, I’ve decided to focus on how close we came.
Without our franchise quarterback, the Steelers were within 34 seconds of being 4-0. Not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, it’s something that we should all feel very proud of.
The Steelers played a very tough Baltimore Ravens team to a virtual standoff with what was effectively our 4th string quarterback. How much additional offense would Big Ben have accounted for? There’s no way of knowing for sure, but I don’t think there are many who believe that he wouldn’t have generated more offense than Charlie Batch did.
Yes, Jeff Reed missed two field goals. Making one of those kicks would have tied the game, and the second would have potentially won the game. But Reed didn’t miss them on purpose. Reed is usually a very accurate kicker, and Heinz Field is a very difficult place to kick field goals. There aren’t many kickers in the league who could do much better than Jeff Reed does under the conditions at Heinz Field. So despite what happened today, next time there is a game winning field goal to be made, I’m going to trust in Jeff Reed to make it.
Bruce Arians’ play calling may have been too predictable, but now that Ben Roethlisberger is returning to the lineup, Arians should go back to being his usual pass-happy self. And because he had to rely on Rashard Mendenhall during Big Ben’s absence, perhaps Arians has gained a new-found appreciation for the running game. In fact, we may have a born-again offensive coordinator on our hands; one who values the run, as well as the pass.
So regardless of what happened against the Ravens, the real season starts now. Ben Roethlisberger is back, and the team is 3-1. The defense is playing great. The running game is working well. And now our franchise quarterback will be added back into the mix.
The Steelers survived Ben’s suspension. And the team fared much better than most expected them to. But Big Ben is back now, and it’s a whole new ballgame.
Look out, NFL! The Steelers are at full force now. And they’re coming after you.
Here we go, Steelers! Here we go!
Today’s featured Steelers gear:
Not only are we Steelers bloggers, but we’re also Steelers fans. We search hard for the coolest Steelers stuff. We try to find Steelers gear that we want. Then we make you aware of them in case you want to add them to your Steelers collection.
We love the Game Stopper 1/4 zip sweatshirt! It features an embroidered team logo on the left chest, team-colored stripes down the sleeves, and hand warmer pockets to keep you in the game when the temperatures drop.
And we don’t want the ladies to feel left out. So how about this lightweight Breakout Play fleece pullover for perfect layering on cold days. Its bold team color stripes on the shoulders and sides showcase your Steelers spirit for all the world to see!
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