Monday, December 03, 2012

Back in Business!

Charlie Batch led the Steelers to victory on Sunday in Baltimore.  That's right, Charlie Batch led the Steelers to a crucial win that made a statement to Baltimore and the rest of the NFL that the Steelers are not done yet.

Good for Charlie.  He would have had more than 300 yards passing if not for a couple of drops by Emmanuel Sanders, but those didn't matter in the end. Good time Charlie. If Ben Roethlisberger needs more time, let him take it. Believe it or not, the Steelers can win with Charlie Batch.

Sticking to their pattern for most of the season, the Steelers controlled time of possession (34:21 to 25:39), which was crucial, with the difference being the Steelers' ability to run out the clock on the final drive. The Baltimore run defense has been uncharacteristically slack all season and, while it surrendered only 96 yards rushing, the Steelers got tough yards when it mattered most, and Batch kept the Ravens off-balance enough.

In a game that felt like it would come down to the last possession, with the Ravens holding home-field advantage, the Steelers controlled the final 6:41 of clock and drove to Shaun Suisham's game-winning field goal.

The Steelers were buttressed by a defense that once again stymied Joe Flacco (for the second time in three weeks), holding him to just 16-34 passing for only 168 yards and a mere 5.5 yards per completion.  Major credit goes to the Steelers secondary, notably the young corners, Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown (with Ike Taylor missing nearly the entire game with an ankle injury).  Kudos also to safeties Ryan Clark, Will Allen and Troy Polamalu whose return to action can only help.

That'll teach Ray Rice not to mess with the towel/.
No less importantly, the Steelers contained Ray Rice (for the second time in three weeks),holding him to just one reception for five yards and 78 yards rushing. Also, crucially, the Steelers didn't allow Jacoby Jones to return any punts, and the Steelers kickoff-coverage units limited Jones to 24.7 yards on three returns, while Pittsburgh's Chris Rainey averaged 30.5 yards on his two returns.

Beginning with the Steelers' first possession, it was evident they came to play. They hung tough, overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit and stymied Baltimore at every turn when it mattered most.  The Steelers proved they can beat Baltimore on the road, and that is a very good sign for the post-season, assuming the Steelers make it.

Now, let's hope they keep it up. The Steelers have had an annoying tendency to play down to their competition all season. Next up: San Diego at Heinz Field.

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