Seeing It Through Their Eyes

Filmstudy Seeing It Through Their Eyes

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/Filmstudy turns on Steelers fan perspective

–By design, the Ravens played a soft shell defense, which the Steelers exploited with the run and quick completions. However, it also neutralized the speed on the outside. Roethlisberger had ATS on 22 of 37 drop backs as I scored it. Flacco and the Ravens “receivers” should have expected 243 net yards, but the Steelers managed just 193. Even if you take out the last lateral play, it was a 33-yard underperformance. And I think we’d all know what would happen if you tried to convince anyone drinking an Iron City that ascribing averages from the Ravens’ offense is appropriate to judging the Steelers.

–The Ravens used almost exclusively 4-man pressure:

ravens pass rush statistics vs. steelers

As you can see, the single 3-man play is the final desperate set of laterals, which deserves the isolation it has. None of the totals are good for Roethlisberger who had averaged 7.8 net yards per pass this season prior to this abomination.

–Yes, the pass interference calls deserve consideration and set up 2 scores, but they don’t make up for the interceptions or 2-for-8 performance on 3rd down.

–Steelers fans should be upset their team decided to shorten the game with the early running. The yardage was good on the first drive, and had the potential to create fatigue from a lopsided differential in offensive snaps. However, the failed 4th-and-1 was an increased wager on a single play. In my opinion, when faced with an inferior team, you want more “rolls of the dice” deciding the outcome, not fewer. Following the failed 4th-down try, the Ravens responded with a 15-play TD drive of their own and converted all 4 third downs as if our defense was Swiss cheese.

–How do you attack a team that wants to play soft all the time? By throwing crossing pattern after crossing pattern (the Seattle method). The Ravens don’t have good coverage linebackers and certainly no one who is a match for the speed of Brown, Bryant, Wheaton, or Williams. That would have worn out the Ravens’ pass rush sooner and maintained the length of the game as a weapon if needed.

–Ben deserves much of the blame for this loss, but Antonio Brown was also bad. A 61-yard game is simply unacceptable on 11 targets versus that defense, but worse still was his inability to play defense on any of the 3 interceptions. As I saw them:

–(Q2, 4:45) Ben threw a 19-yard pass between the Hashes which Smith intercepted. It’s bad enough the old fart remembered he had hands, but Brown made no effort to break up the play despite reasonable proximity.

–(Q4, 13:01) Jimmy Smith looked back at the QB well after Brown, yet somehow obtained superior position. That’s a play where Antonio simply needed to be able to use his body (or hands if necessary) to make the reception (or at least knock it down).

–(Q4, 7:27) On the play we thought ended the season, Brown had the first touch and inside position on Lewis. How the hell does that ball carom off Brown and Lewis and into the hands of Smith? This is a Ravens team that has not had a single tip-drill interception all year! The throw was a little high, but Brown should have been able to knock it down at worst. Thanks for bailing us out, Upshaw, but that was not an acceptable result.

–Obviously, I’m most upset about how this loss impacts the Steelers’ playoff chances, but if you’re a Ravens troll who happens to be reading this, I have a few simple points:

–Your team is 5-10.
–You just lost a number of spots in the draft order for that 5th win.
–It wouldn’t have any impact on our chance to make the playoffs, but Belichick screwed us by intentionally throwing the game against the Jets.
–The game was your Super Bowl.
–Speaking of Super Bowls, we have won 6 (soon to be 7). I forget how many you have.
–And if you try to do that thing where you divide by the number of years your team has been around, you have to start with the Browns history since Jim Brown’s retirement and as you know, the Steelers franchise didn’t exist until Chuck Knoll arrived or the immaculate reception (your choice).

steelers fan puts her head in her hands./Filmstudy returns to Ravens perspective

Ravens fan with face paint.Notes (all snap totals exclude penalties and are based on 57 meaningful snaps by the Steelers):

–Particularly on the early running plays, the Steelers were effective getting a lineman or FB on Mosley every play. He didn’t do a good job avoiding/shedding those blocks. I won’t go into detail, but watch the Steelers’ first 4 plays from scrimmage. CJ had some nice open field tackles, but he also took a bad angle covering Williams (Q4, 8:36) which led to a 22-yard reception (2 +20 YAC).

–Setting aside the costly offsides penalty, Courtney Upshaw had another fine pass-rush game, primarily versus LT Villanueva. He had a sack and a QH on the Steelers’ final set of downs (beginning Q4, 2:42). I was particularly amused when Villanueva pancaked Upshaw at the feet of Roethlisberger and Upshaw still brought down Ben (Q4, 2:42) because I can’t ever recall seeing an offensive lineman call for a roughing the passer flag on a play where he surrendered a sack. Upshaw had 2 more QHs washed out by pass interference.

–Despite facing the Steelers’ 3-receiver (primarily) offense, the Ravens did not field 6 DBs until the final play of the game. The primary loss of snaps accrued to Will Hill, who played just 29 of 57 snaps. Amazingly, he was on the sideline for the lateral play as Arrington and Levine took the field.  Wow.

–Webb split 46 snaps between slot corner and safety. He played well and avoided long receptions allowed. He missed a tackle on Wheaton which allowed an extra 12 YAC (Q4, 2:49), but he knocked down a 3rd-and-6 pass for Wheaton (Q2, 14:55) which forced a FG attempt.

–Arrington played 26 snaps as SCB in the nickel. I can’t understand why he’s a better option than Rolle against this offense, but I’m sure the coaching staff has their reasons.

–Shareece Wright and Jimmy Smith played every down as outside corners (excepting 3 goal line snaps each) with drastically different results. Let’s examine:

Shareece Wright

–(Q1, 3:20) Wright held the edge against Heath Miller(!) on a WR screen right to Brown. Lewis got tackle credit, but Wright blew up the play for a loss of 1.
–(Q2, 5:36) Brown ran a back-shoulder curl with Wright playing 10 yards off. The pass was completed for a gain of 9.
–(Q3, 14;19) Wright again had coverage of Brown and took him down immediately as he caught a 5-yard pass outside the right numbers.
–(Q3, 9:16) Brown found a hole in zone coverage between Wright, Orr, and Webb on the right sideline and stepped out with 0 YAC.
–(Q4, 2:10) On the Steelers’ final drive (prior to the lateral play), Wright and Webb contained Williams for an in-bounds gain of 3 yards (-3 +6 YAC) on a screen right.
–(Q4, 1:53) On 4th and 15, Wright stayed stride for stride with Wheaton on the outside, found the football, and maneuvered high and clean to knock the ball away and secure the win. How many times have we seen that from a Ravens corner all season?

He was brilliant in a big game. Roethlisberger did not test him often, and based on his play since SF (including a poor game vs. Seattle) I think he’ll get a chance to start somewhere next season.

Jimmy Smith

–(Q1, 2:42) Smith slipped in coverage of Brown to allow a 27 yard catch (18 + 9 YAC) by the left sideline.
–(Q2, 10:01): He dropped an easy interception when Roethlisberger overthrew FB Johnson down the left sideline.
–(Q3, 13:37): Wheaton dropped a 7-yard pass by the left sideline with Smith trailing in coverage.
–(Q3, 12:59): Smith pulled on Bryant’s jersey as soon as he was beaten, resulting in a 29-yard DPI flag. The throw traveled 40 yards, so I give Smith some credit for minimizing the yardage on the flag.
–(Q3, 11:33): Smith was underneath Brown on Roethlisberger’s end zone throw, but could not find the football. Had he been able to get a hand on it, Lewis would not have been flagged for a flagrant PI in the end zone.
–(Q3, 8:45): Jimmy was knocked off his pins by Wheaton’s block as Brown gained 6 yards (-2 +8) on a WR screen left.
–(Q4, 13:01): The Ravens showed a double-A blitz look, but Mosley and Upshaw both dropped to coverage and Arrington blitzed to overload the offensive right side. The Steelers picked it up well, which could have set up a big play; however, Smith found the ball headed to Brown and maintained position for the interception.
–(Q4, 7:31): He didn’t find the football and ran through Wheaton in the end zone for another DPI. That play set the Steelers up at the 1. It was the 2nd time in the game that a Smith DPI had negated a QH by Upshaw, which is ironic considering…
–(Q4, 7:27): Smith collected the first “tip-drill” interception of the season for the Ravens which was previously tipped by one or both of Antonio Brown and Kendrick Lewis. Smith somehow avoided a taunting flag on the ensuing 101-yard return despite several gestures. It seemed too good to be true and of course it was as Upshaw was flagged for offsides.
–(Q4, 2:00): He appeared to have good coverage of Bryant down the left sideline, but the Steelers receiver gained some separation and was unable to haul in the overthrow.

Jimmy will be remembered for a “2-interception” day, but close inspection reveals a lot of warts.

How much time did the young players get? Let’s review:

–Carl Davis was active, but played just 3 goal line snaps.

–Kapron Lewis-Moore was again inactive as the Ravens dressed 5 other healthy defensive linemen (and effectively used just 4).

–Brent Urban played 12 snaps and did not make the defensive stat sheet. He generated pressure on 1 of his 6 pass rushes as I have it scored.

–Arthur Brown was active, but did not play defensively. The Ravens added ex-Steeler LB Chris Carter (in his 5th season) for the game. I assume that had to do with his understanding of the Steelers’ defense and special teams. Carter did not play on defense either.

–Zach Orr played 18 snaps including 6 in the 3-ILB package and 12 others where he replaced Daryl Smith in passing situations. Zach had just 1 tackle, but the Steelers averaged just 4.5 yards on the plays he was in and all 3 sacks came with him on the field.

–Za’Darius Smith continues to get more playing time with McClellan out. He played 34 snaps that included a splash hair tackle for -4 on Williams and a jersey sack of Roethlisberger. He’s playing his best ball at the end of his first long season, which is a good sign for a leap forward in year 2.

–Terrence Brooks was active, but did not play on defense.

–Jumal Rolle was inactive after significant playing time versus the Chiefs.

–Tray Walker was active, but did not play on defense.

I was cognizant of the scoreboard all day for draft pick purposes, but I couldn’t root for the Ravens to lose a game like this against the Steelers. It was a great weather and a marvelous outcome. Because of the large number of Steelers fans, it had some of the enjoyment of traveling for a road win, but with the positive and partisan crowd energy. I won’t return often to watch games from this season, but the throw-up-your-arms-in-disbelief tension made it much more entertaining than 1997, 1998, 2005, and 2007. Yup, those are the only 4 that were worse.

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time.

If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas.

He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens.

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