Ouch. Well, what can we take away from this game? In Dixon’s first start, he definitely proved he’s the backup of the future. Did he amaze us with his accuracy and decision making? No, not really. But in his first start, against the Ravens no less, he was definitely serviceable. The defense let him down more than he let the defense down. Recap after the jump, if you’re so inclined.
Logan opens up with a nice kickoff return. A couple of runs yield limited success, and Double D has his first near-interception on a batted pass. Punt, and some idiot Ravens takes a 15 yard personal foul.
The Ravens come out and snag a few first downs through the air, and with the Steelers back to defend the pass and Ray Rice tears off a 20 yard run to the 2.
James Harrison was held somewhere in there, but no one ever hold James Harrison in the eyes of the refs.
Eventually the Ravens punch it in for six. 7-0 Baltimore.
Next drive, Ward picks up a little gain and Mendenhall gets rolling with a couple of good runs. Dennis Dixon breaks off a huge run but Justin Hartwig gets called for holding to bring it back. And really, the hold on Trevor Pryce is what let that play happens. Refs love the Steelers and hate the Ravens though, so they let the play go. Oh, wait. On 3rd and 13 the Steelers run a draw and go nowhere. Punt.
Ravens also do a whole lot of nothing on their next drive.
The Steelers put Willie Parker in and actually convert a first down. And another. Whoa.
Dixon hits Ward for 18 yards. Awesome. Know what’s even more awesome? Dixon hitting Santonio Holmes for a touchdown. Got it right over some DB too. Nice throw. 7-7. Dixon is 4/5 for 65 yards at this point.
The Steelers’ return coverage looks shaky again, but Carey Davis comes up with a tackle and a Baltimore penalty takes it back anyway. I seriously did not even think Carey Davis was still on the team.
Somewhere on the next drive, Flacco fires a pass to Travis Kirschke standing on the sideline. Not even under pressure or anything. On 3rd and 7, Flacco throws too far ahead of his receiver. Receiver dives and Tyrone Carter kind of catches his ankle. A bunch of fans want a penalty but the refs are actually watching the game. No call. Refs love the Steelers blah blah. Punt.
Mendenhall gets a nice little gain on first down, and follows up with an AWESOME gain on second down into Baltimore territory. On the next play Dixon trips giving Mendy the handoff, reminiscent of Kurt Warner in the playoffs last year (anyone else notice that?), but no turnover or anything. 3rd and 7, Dixon hits Holmes for a big first down. Steelers take a timeout on 2nd and 10. Coming out of that, Dixon throws a slick screen pass to Holmes but the Ravens do a good job of stopping it and it’s 3rd and 11. Everyone comes on a blitz and Dixon throws it away. Flag is thrown for defensive holding. Ngata had a hold of Ramon Foster’s jersey. That’s an automatic first down and Ravens fans everywhere start crying about officiating.
Another throwaway, and after that the Steelers get called for holding so it’s 2nd and 20. A garbage run makes it 3rd and 18. Holmes picks up the first down on a catch and run, but Moore gets called for holding Ray Lewis. Which he was, Ray was about to destroy Double D if he didn’t. The next pass is caught, but on 3rd and 28 it isn’t enough. Punt is downed at the 10. Not bad.
Flacco hits Mason for a quick first down. LeRon McClain reminds us he’s still on the team with the next carry for five yards. There’s some debate about a penalty and the refs pick up the flag. Refs hate the Ravens boo hoo. Ray Rice picks up the following first down. James Harrison comes blitzing and Mason drops the pass on the next play. Some tackle didn’t report as elligible and the Ravens take a 5 yard procedure penalty, giving them an awkward 1st & 15.
Flacco fires a rocket like a million yards downfield and Mark Clayton makes the catch at like the 10. William Gay blew his coverage. Again. Not impressed with Willie Gay this year. Mason snags a touchdown shortly thereafter. 14-7 Ravens.
1:45 left. Can Dixon run a hurry-up offense? Logan only manages to get the ball to the 25, so this drive can make Dixon a hero for the moment.
Or not. Moore picks up three yards. 1:30 and the clock is running. There’s no sense of urgency for the Steelers. They look content to go in 14-7 at halftime, and after another run with Moore, the Ravens take a time out with intent to score one more time. Somehow Carey Davis breaks free on some bizarre run play (ran right past Ray Lewis) and the half runs out. All things considered, being down by 7 isn’t that awful.
Ray Rice comes out with a big run for a first down immediately. Next play, Clayton catches a ball, fumbles, Steelers recover. HUGE hit by Woodley. It’s surprising the Ravens don’t challenge that play and say Clayton never made the catch. It would have been close. Either way, the Steelers go three-and-out and punt.
Flacco gets sacked on 2nd and 10 and the Ravens take a holding penalty anyway. Declined. Rice up the middle for not-a-first-down and the Ravens punt. Logan gets it to midfield.
It is at this point that my dorm smelled like it was on fire. I missed the Steelers’ next drive, but I know they came away with a field goal. So, awesome as far as I care.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Ravens set up at the 35 or so. Two plays later they have another first down. The Steelers’ defense is not impressive so far. Lawrence Timmons hears me say that and blasts through the line and drops Flacco for like a 10 yard loss. Woodley gets to him on the next play. 4th & 17. That’s what Steeler defense looks like. Punt. Logan gets to the 20 and the offense comes back out.
Ed Reed might be the worst tackler in football. Ward drags him for like 8 yards at the end of a big first down catch. Dixon gets a little greedy and fires deep into coverage. Batted away. On third down and 10, he misses again and the punt team comes out. Somewhere in there, NBC showed a montage of Hines Ward owning Ed Reed’s life. Awesome. I love thinking about Ed Reed crying to the media about how Hines Ward is too rough and hits too hard. Beautiful.
The Ravens begin driving as they have the whole game. Somewhere in there, Ray Rice converts a 3rd and 12. Gay can’t tackle.
I missed the first minute and a half, but a friend of mine from Baltimore texted me crying about some kid of bad call or something? I don’t know. I got back from a QuickZone run and the Steelers were driving.
I probably should have stayed there, because as soon as I made it back, the Ravens pull off a huge punt return and get the ball in Pittsburgh territory. The Ravens plan to extend their lead. Lawrence Timmons has other plans. Sack. Fumbled. Recovered by Pittsburgh.
Mendenhall pushes the Steelers to a 3rd and short, Dixon sneaks for the first. Holmes picks up a catch for another. Next play, Steelers false start. After that, Haloti Ngata jumps and gives thme 5 yards back. Big time 3rd and 5 coming up. Dixon fakes the handoff to Wallace in motion, rolls to his right, and takes off. Double D’s got some speed. He runs down the sideline and into the endzone. Touchdown, Steelers take the lead. 17-14.
The Ravens start driving to try and get back into it with only about 6 minutes left. Ryan Clark kills Mason. The defense backs up the Ravens to 3rd and 22. Flacco hits Mason for a big gain, but Ryan Clark makes the stop short of the first down line. Harbaugh calls timeout to see about going for it on 4th and 5.
And they do. Flacco hits Rice and he takes it for a huge gain after the catch. Ravens get 1st and goal at the 10. The defense pulls together and manages to hold them to a field goal. Huge. Tied at 17.
Dixon’s got 1:51 left in the fourth quarter. Steelers can’t afford to sit on the ball here. This is Dixon’s chance to become a real folk hero for Steeler Nation. Stefan Logan sets him up at the 25.
Double D misfires his first pass and nearly has the second one picked off for six. Arians has enough with that, runs a draw with Moore, and punts.
The Ravens get a nice return called back on a block-in-the-back. Flacco keeps moving the ball down the field anyway. Derrick Mason beats Ike Taylor in there so Ike has no choice to but interfere and prevent a touchdown. Obvious call. Mark Clayton returns the favor with an offensive pass interference penalty.
A couple plays later, Flacco drops back, defense gets to him. Sack, fumble, Baltimore keeps it. It’s fourth down with the clock running. The Ravens start up the fire drill and get the field goal team out. Cundiff gets the kick away. It’s dead center…and short by about 3 feet. And we go to overtime.
Steelers receive the kick to start off. Mendenhall pounds away and gets to third and short. Dixon sneaks for the first again. How reliable has Mendenhall been in this game?
Dixon launches a bomb deep to Wallace. He catches it, well out of bounds. On 3rd and 6, Dixon overthrows Holmes and it falls incomplete. Punt.
Flacco fires a missile about 20 yards ahead of everyone downfield. Throws his next one too low for Mason to hang on. His last pass of the drive hits Deshea Townsend in the hands and he makes close to no effort to haul it in. If he does, it’s a touchdown and the game. If the Steelers lose, it is Deshea’s fault right now.
Logan takes the punt at his own 45. Mendenhall runs into a pile a few times, and on 3rd and 5, Dixon finally makes his big rookie mistake. Picked off by Paul Kruger. Returned to the 28. That should be game over.
Just to be pricks, they keep running the ball down to like the 10 or something. Cundiff finally comes on. Kicks the field goal. Ravens win. Blahhh.
From here on out, every game is a must-win.