|Other Week 11 Game Recaps|
|ARI at ATL||BAL at PIT||CHI at SF||CIN at KC||CLE at DAL||GB at DET||IND at NE||JAX at HOU|
|MIA at BUF||NO at OAK||NYJ at STL||PHI at WAS||SD at DEN||TB at CAR|
Week 11 Game Recap: Baltimore Ravens 13, Pittsburgh Steelers 10
|QB Joe Flacco, Pass: 20 - 32 - 164 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0|
Coming off one of his best outings as a pro, Flacco methodically attacked the stingy Pittsburgh secondary. Flacco was patient in the pocket and did an excellent job of taking what the defense gave him. For the majority of the game, Ike Taylor shadowed Torrey Smith, taking away Flacco's deep threat. Flacco adjusted and began focused on his intermediate throws, routinely finding Anquan Boldin working against Keenan Lewis. During the first half, Flacco completed 15 of 22 passes attempts, seven of which went to Boldin. During his team's fourth drive, Flacco found Boldin along the right sideline for a nine-yard gain. Flacco prolonged the play by rolling out of the pocket and Boldin did a nice job by coming back to the ball. During this same drive, Flacco completed his longest pass of the game, a 30-yard touch pass to Ray Rice. Rice leaked out of the backfield and Flacco put nice touch on the pass to evade a leaping LaMarr Woodley.
During the second half, Flacco completed just five of his ten passes for 48 yards. During his team's ninth drive, Flacco gained 37 of his 48 second half yards. Flacco showed off his impressive arm strength by finding Boldin on a deep post route for 23 yards. Three plays later, Flacco found Rice over the middle for eight yards. This drive would result in a field goal that gave Baltimore a 13-7 advantage. Given the physical nature of the game and their second half lead, Baltimore's play calling became extremely conservative.
Overall, Flacco orchestrated a very smart game plan. He didn't force any throws into double coverage and simply took what Pittsburgh gave him. Pittsburgh's secondary is one of the league's best and Flacco has to be commended for playing smart football.
|RB Ray Rice, Rush: 20 - 40 - 0, Rec: 5 - 53 - 0 (5 targets)|
Pittsburgh sold out to stop Ray Rice. Pittsburgh routinely stacked eight defenders in the box and put the onus on Joe Flacco to beat them on the perimeter. Each of Rice's carries were hardnosed, AFC North carries that resulted in minimal gains. Throughout the game, Rice displayed great vision and impressive inline run skills that turned losses into three or four yard gains. To offset Pittsburgh interior pressure, the Ravens opted to work the edges and utilize Rice's superior pass catching ability. During his team's fourth drive, Rice caught a touch pass from Flacco and accelerated up the right sideline for a 30-yard gain. Lawrence Timmons was matched up against Rice in man coverage, but Timmons chased Flacco as he began to roll out of the pocket. Flacco floated the ball over Timmons and Rice made the play happen in space.
After halftime, Rice registered his longest run of the day, a shifty run up the middle for eight yards. Rice was met by Timmons at the line of scrimmage, but made an impressive jump cut that only a few running backs can make. With his team preserving a small fourth quarter lead, Rice showed why he's one of the game's best running backs. Rice did not shy away from contact as he pounded away at the Pittsburgh defense for minimal gains. Even though he didn't find the end zone, Rice brought stability, an attitude, and leadership to this pivotal AFC North match-up.
|RB Bernard Pierce, Rush: 2 - 8 - 0, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)|
Pierce accumulated all of his touches in the first half. During his team's third drive, Pierce spelled Rice and took his first carry up the middle for a three yard gain. During the next drive, Flacco found Pierce over the middle as he turned up field for an 11-yard gain. Alike Rice, Pierce is a hard-nosed runner that shows nice burst when he gets in space.
|WR Anquan Boldin, Rec: 8 - 79 - 0 (12 targets)|
Anquan Boldin was the beneficiary of Pittsburgh's game plan. In order to stop Baltimore's potent deep ball, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator, Dick Lebeau matched Ike Taylor up against Torrey Smith and routinely rolled Ryan Clark to his side. Boldin found success working against the less-talented, Keenan Lewis. Boldin caught seven of his eight passes during the first half for 56 of his 79 yards. Boldin displayed his multi-faceted talent by beating both man-to-man and zone coverage. Boldin found success by running intermediate routes and absorbing hits over the middle. During his team's fifth drive, Boldin put a nice move on Lewis and caught a slant route for 11 yards. Flacco came back to Boldin on the next play for a short four-yard gain on an out-route. During his team's next drive, Boldin hauled in a 3rd-and-10 pass and made an impressive move on Lawrence Timmons for a first down. Boldin spun off of Timmons, propelling himself for a tough 13-yard gain. Three plays later, Flacco came back to Boldin on the same route, but Pittsburgh did not let him run freely after the catch.
Boldin secured only one second half reception, but it set-up Baltimore's final scoring play. During his team's ninth drive, Flacco found Boldin on a deep post-route for 23 yards. The reception helped establish some offensive rhythm as Baltimore marched down into the red zone. Flacco targeted Boldin on his lone red zone pass attempt, but the ball was thrown into double coverage and fell incomplete. During the second half, Pittsburgh opted to roll Ike Taylor to Boldin in red zone situations, so his second-half opportunities were limited. Overall, Boldin made plays when he had to and kept the chains moving.
|WR Jacoby Jones, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (4 targets)|
During the first quarter, Jacoby Jones made the play of the game. Jones demonstrated great speed, quickness, and vision in the open field by running a punt return back for a 63-yard touchdown. On offense, Jones had trouble making plays in space. During the second quarter, Jones caught his first pass at the line of scrimmage and accelerated up field for five yards. Flacco came back to Jones on the next play, but he was tackled behind the line of scrimmage for a four yard loss.
During the second half, Jones dropped both of his targets. On both plays, Jones ran out-routes, but had trouble beating press coverage and completing the catch. Jones is dangerous in space, but his route running ability and hands aren't very good.
|WR Torrey Smith, Rec: 1 - 7 - 0 (7 targets)|
Torrey Smith's lack of production was a product of Pittsburgh's game plan. Dick Lebeau matched Ike Taylor up against Smith and routinely rolled Ryan Clark to his side. During the first half, Smith was targeted six times, but none of the targets were catchable. When Smith was double covered by Taylor and Clark, Joe Flacco wisely threw the ball out of bounds. Smith had one red zone target, but Clark's help over the top broke up the play.
Even though Pittsburgh mixed up its coverage throughout the game, Taylor always had Clark's help over the top. During the fourth quarter, Smith made his sole reception on a quick slant route against relaxed zone coverage.
|TE Ed Dickson, Rec: 2 - 8 - 0 (2 targets)|
After Dennis Pitta sustained a concussion, Dickson saw all of the snaps at tight end. Dickson is primarily known for his blocking ability, but can serve as an outlet receiver in emergency situations. During his team's fourth drive, Dickson caught a short, emergency dump off pass for a two-yard gain.
|TE Dennis Pitta, Rec: 1 - 5 - 0 (1 targets)|
Dennis Pitta recorded his sole reception during his team's first drive. Pitta ran a quick drag route and secured a five-yard gain. However, Pitta left with concussion-like symptoms and did not return.
|QB Byron Leftwich, Pass: 18 - 39 - 201 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 31 - 1|
Byron Leftwich delivered a gritty, gutty performance in the place of Ben Roethlisberger. On his first play, Leftwich threw a deep post route to Mike Wallace that resulted in a defensive pass interference penalty. Two plays later, Leftwich rumbled for a 31-yard touchdown. On one of the most peculiar plays in recent memory, Leftwich scrambled to the right and decided to run for the first down. Ten yards into the play, Leftwich ran through a half-hearted Bernard Pollard arm tackle, lumbered untouched for an additional 21 yards, and scored. Pollard appeared ready to unload a big hit, but held back and tried to arm tackle Leftwich. After scoring, Leftwich was unable to stop his momentum and fell onto his right shoulder. For the rest of the game, Leftwich was clearly favoring the shoulder and his throws lacked velocity. After the touchdown drive, six of his seven first half drives resulted in punts. Leftwich's longest first half pass play, a 25-yard slant route to Emmanuel Sanders, was completed due to a blown coverage. Leftwich completed just 7-of-17 first half attempts for 85 yards. During his first second half drive, Leftwich attempted to establish some rhythm by feeding his running backs. After two Rashard Mendenhall runs, Leftwich stepped up and found Sanders on a deep post route for 37 yards. Velocity was not an issue on this throw. Two plays later, Leftwich was once again targeting Sanders on a deep post route, but the ball was underthrown and intercepted by Corey Graham. Unlike his last completion to Sanders, this throw lacked the necessary velocity. While his turnover led to three critical Baltimore points, Leftwich would atone for this mistake by leading his most impressive drive. Leftwich deployed his running backs as both receivers and runners as he paced the Steelers down the field. Leftwich completed four of his six pass attempts, but failed to convert in the red zone. On a 3rd-and-2 play from Baltimore's three-yard line, Leftwich had Mike Wallace open on a fade route, but threw the ball too far to the sideline and Wallace was unable to get two feet in bounds. Pittsburgh needed a touchdown drive, but settled for a field goal. As the fourth quarter progressed, Leftwich continued taking big hits. Leftwich was grimacing after each one, but stayed in the game. Arm strength was an obvious issue as Leftwich attempted to fuel the late game come back. Asking an injured Leftwich to lead a fourth quarter drive against the Baltimore Ravens is a tall order. Leftwich is an adequate backup, but the Pittsburgh offense clearly missed Ben Roethlisberger.
|RB Jonathan Dwyer, Rush: 12 - 55 - 0, Rec: 3 - 26 - 0 (3 targets)|
Jonathan Dwyer was the most impressive Pittsburgh running back. Dwyer, who played 32 snaps, displayed the same level of tough running that we've grown accustomed to watching. Despite taking just five carries for 15 yards in the first half, Pittsburgh made it a point to get him heavily involved during the second half. During his team's tenth drive, Dwyer accumulated 40 total yards through a mix of runs and screen passes. On a 2nd-and-14 play, Dwyer caught a designed screen pass and accelerated up the field for 14 yards. Dwyer generated five of the 14 yards after contact as he launched into Terrell Suggs. Pittsburgh came right back to Dwyer, feeding him two carries that resulted in gains of eleven and seven yards. Dwyer ran with a low pad level and sought out initial contact. With his team in the red zone, Dwyer took a carry up the middle for eight yards.
Over his team's final three drives, Dwyer continued run hard after contact. On a 3rd-and-8 play at midfield, Byron Leftwich was hit by Paul Krueger and flipped the ball up to Dwyer. Dwyer showed a little wiggle, evading the first defender and a great second effort by lunging for the first down.
Isaac Redman suffered a first half concussion, so Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall split caries. Both Dwyer and Mendenhall are playing through injuries, but Dwyer's burst and rugged running style was superior to Mendenhall's.
|RB Rashard Mendenhall, Rush: 11 - 33 - 0, Rec: 3 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)|
After missing the last four games with an Achilles injury, Mendenhall started the game, but failed to create many plays. During his team's second drive, Mendenhall took his first carry up the middle for a modest three-yard gain. Mendenhall would take two additional first half carries for modest two-yard gains. Mendenhall is not known an explosive first step, but his initial burst left a lot to be desired.
Alike Dwyer, the Steelers focused on giving Mendenhall more second half touches. After halftime, Mendenhall came out with the starters and picked up seven yards on his first two carries. Mendenhall wasn't having a ton of success running the ball between the tackles, so the Steelers opted to get him involved in space. On a 2nd-and-6 play, Mendenhall caught a quick rocket screen and evaded Terrell Suggs for a six-yard gain. The Steelers came back to this play, completing it once again for a nine-yard gain. Even though Dwyer (32) appeared on more snaps than Mendenhall (30), this was his first game in over a month. After Redman sustained a concussion, the Steelers may rely more heavily on Mendenhall in the short-term.
|RB Baron Batch, Rush: 1 - 3 - 0|
Batch appeared in just one offensive play, but his contribution was important. During the third quarter, Batch successfully converted a 3rd-and-1 play for a first down. This was clearly an Isaac Redman situation, but his injury opened the door for Batch to convert. This drive resulted in a field goal.
|RB Isaac Redman, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0|
During the first quarter, Redman suffered a concussion on his first carry and did not return.
|RB Chris Rainey (1 targets)|
Rainey appeared in just three offensive snaps. Before halftime, Rainey spelled Dwyer during the two-minute drill. Rainey's sole target was thrown over his head and out of bounds.
|WR Mike Wallace, Rec: 4 - 26 - 0 (6 targets)|
It was a frustrating game for Wallace. On his team's first play from scrimmage, Wallace was open on a deep post down the left sideline, but the Baltimore defender grabbed him and negated the play. A penalty was called, but a successful completion would have boosted his confidence and set the tone for the game. Wallace demonstrated he can get behind defenders quickly and showed his initial push off the line of scrimmage. During his team's next drive, Wallace caught a slant route in traffic and accelerated up the field for 15 yards. However, Baltimore corner, Chris Johnson poked the ball away after Wallace secured the catch, resulting in a turnover. This mistake led to three Baltimore points. During the second quarter, Wallace secured his second reception on a nine-yard, out-route. Wallace defeated the press coverage at the line of scrimmage for inside position before making his break to the sideline. During the second half, Wallace had an opportunity to score a touchdown, but a poor Leftwich throw negated the opportunity. On a 3rd-and-2 play, Wallace ran a fade route in the end-zone, but was only able to get one foot in bounds. If Leftwich delivers a better ball, Wallace completes the play and gives Pittsburgh the lead. During the fourth quarter, Wallace secured two catches for minimal gains. His last reception occurred on the last play of the game where laterals ensued.
|WR Emmanuel Sanders, Rec: 3 - 82 - 0 (8 targets)|
Despite the change at quarterback, Emmanuel Sanders did not miss a beat. During his team's first drive, Sanders ran a deep slant route and gained 25 yards. Baltimore did not have the right personnel in place, so Sanders took advantage. Sanders had three additional first half targets, but each target was uncatchable. Baltimore did a nice job at putting pressure on Leftwich, causing most of his throws to sail high and out of bounds.
After halftime, Sanders ran a post route and collected his second reception for a 37-yard gain. Sanders' top-end speed was on full display as he rocketed past Ed Reed. During his team's next drive, Sanders displayed toughness and the willingness to go over the middle. Sanders ran a deep crossing route, secured the catch for a 20-yard gain, and took a hellacious helmet-to-helmet hit from Ed Reed. Sanders popped up after making the catch and stayed in the game. With Antonio Brown still nursing an injury, expect Sanders to continue roaming free in the opposition's secondary.
|WR Jerricho Cotchery, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (5 targets)|
Jerricho Cotchery secured one catch in each half. During Pittsburgh's first half two minute drill, Cotchery ran an out-route and secured an 11-yard gain. During the second half, Cotchery ran a post route into the end zone, but Corey Graham dove and tipped the sure-fire touchdown out of bounds. During the fourth quarter, Leftwich found Cotchery once again on an out-route for an 11-yard game. Later in the quarter, Cotchery ran a deep drag route and appeared to complete the catch. However, a hellacious, yet clean Bernard Pollard hit jarred the ball away. Cotchery needed help leaving the field.
|WR David Gilreath, Rush: 1 - 7 - 0 (1 targets)|
During his team's first drive, Gilreath took an end-around carry to the right for a seven yard gain. Gilreath showed some patience as he let his blocks develop before hitting the hole. Gilreath was targeted once during the Steelers' final drive, but the pass was underthrown.
|TE Heath Miller, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (5 targets)|
Heath Miller had a tough game. He didn't secure his first catch until the second quarter when he settled into the middle of zone coverage for a 16 yard gain. During Pittsburgh's two minute drill before halftime, Miller was wide open on a crossing route, but the ball was thrown behind him. If the ball was on target, Miller makes the catches and gains at least 20 yards.
During the fourth quarter, Miller lined up in the backfield and ran a wheel route for a six-yard gain. Miller demonstrated good acceleration after the catch as he lunged for the first down. During Pittsburgh's last possession, Miller ran a post route, but took a big hit from Graham and did not secure the catch. The throw was clearly lacking velocity. Of all Pittsburgh skill position players, it's obvious that Miller misses his chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger the most.
|TE David Paulson, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (2 targets)|
During his team's fifth drive, Paulson ran a drag route over the middle of the field for a five-yard gain.