It was a big Pittsburgh win, but losing Mendenhall and Simmons for the year, and two key special teams players, indicates Baltimore may end up being more able to out-last the Steelers over the season. Either way, the Ravens' defense is what got all the pre-game publicity, but it was the playmaking ability of the Steelers' D that won the game.
The Steelers got the better of rival Baltimore Monday night, sealing their seventh straight relevant win in the AFC North when Jeff Reed nailed a 49-yard field goal off Pittsburgh's first overtime possession.
Baltimore probably put themselves more in position to win the war, though.
Steelers players were dropping likes flies throughout the game, further depleting the team. Already without NT Casey Hampton, RB Willie Parker and DE Brett Keisel, the Steelers lost LB/special teams ace Andre Frazier, starting RG Kendall Simmons, RB Rashard Mendenhall, RB Carey Davis and special teamer Keyaron Fox.
Frazier was hit on the first kick of the game, and was taken off the field on a stretcher. If there is any justice in the NFL, Haruki Nakamura will be issued a fine for the helmet-to-helmet hit, which left Frazier with a spinal cord injury, according to the team.
Simmons suffered an Achilles' heel injury, and will be placed on the IR, ending his season. The rookie Mendenhall, making the first start of his career, fractured his shoulder, and will also be out for the rest of the season.
At least the Ravens can have comfort in losing, but physically disassembling the Steelers enough to severely damper their chances of continuing their dominance of the AFC North. Pittsburgh was 5-1 in the division last season, only losing at Baltimore when the division champions rested most of their starters in a meaningless game. They are 2-0 inside the division now, with wins over the hapless Browns and the Ravens.Tomlin back to Minnesota roots in run game
The loss of Mendenhall for the year and possibly Davis for an extended period of time would put little depth behind (injured) starter Willie Parker. At the end of the game, Mewelde Moore - a big reason the Steelers were able to hang on for the win - was the only active running back available. Will the loss of Mendenhall bring with it a promotion of Gary Russell from the practice squad? Russell was cut not even two weeks ago for the sake of bringing in special teams depth.
Ironically, the Steelers will need that, and Russell, too, assuming Frazier's spinal cord injury will keep him out of action for a while.
Russell, a University of Minnesota product, joins Moore, a Minnesota Viking when Tomlin was the defensive coordinator, in the thinnest Steelers backfield in years.Who had the better defense?
If one was go follow the 90 minute gush-fest about the Ravens defense, it would appear to have been pretty obvious.
Anyone who watches and understands the game in a capacity that does not include a need to increase TV ratings will be able to tell you it was the Steelers' defense - and not the highly touted Ravens - who controlled the second-half.
At the very least, it's fair to say the Ravens provided the tough-nosed stability and roughness, but it was the Steelers who provided the big plays and ultimately won the game.
If that is at all doubted, let's always remember who won the coin toss, who failed to move the ball, who punted, and who gave up 35 yards to Mewelde Moore to set up the game-winning field goal.Harrison will pick up his second Defensive Player of the Week award
Lost in the hypnotizing and empty rhetoric of veteran, exhalted General Ray Lewis was the more impressive play of Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Interestingly enough, the broadcasting team barely touched on the fact that Harrison, in two games against Baltimore at home, now has 5.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. It's much more entertaining to watch Lewis wax moronical about finding balances and his best game instead of watching Harrison abuse the Ravens offensive line, and the most over-credited game-manager in football, Joe Flacco (that's FLACK-o, Mr. Jaworski, not FLOCK-o).
It's a good thing Harrison cares very little about getting his face on TV. He may be upset if he had Lewis's "team-first-as-long-as-the-team-is-about-me" attitude.
Giving credit where it's due, Lewis played a great game, and is clearly back from whatever was nagging him last year (ego bruise). The rest of the defense played very well, and first-year coach John Harbaugh clearly has them on the right track. The fact is, though, Harrison and OLB LaMarr Woodley were more impressive than any Ravens player, but got very little fanfare.
It's likely not a coincidence that while Harrison is second in the NFL with 5.5 sacks, the only headlines he'll get over the self-promotional genius Lewis is the one that reads "Steelers Repeat as Division Champs."
Has Lewis ever earned that one? Nope.
Labels: Game Wrap-up