How effective was Cam Cameron’s game plan?
I think overall I was pleased with the game plan with a few exceptions. The start of the game was perfect and something I’ve been waiting to see. Many of the early passes were short three-step drops to the outside and screens. You don’t allow the Steeler blitz to get to you and you get Derrick Mason involved early. The run was balanced enough in the first half as well.
My issues come with the end of the first half where the Ravens threatened in the Red Zone again. The final play was a set up screen to Ray Rice with about 9 seconds left that had no chance to score that could have possibly had the team come up empty on that trip. The Goal Line choices were equally as puzzling in the Fourth Quarter as Ike Taylor jammed Boldin enough off the line to disrupt the fade on 1st Down. But to go back to a similar call on 4th down, with the difference being a potential pick play to spring Boldin free didn’t work much better. I’m a basketball coach so I love the pick but it would have made more sense to pick Boldin inside on the slant and throw it up to let his claw grasp snare an easy TD. His size and great hands are showcased there instead of a jump ball. Lastly the argument will always be that we should run the ball more. At times I agree but with the backs being so hampered with injury maybe I could see his point but on 3rd and shorts all I’d like to see would be some simple play action and roll out.
Did Joe Flacco prove himself today?
Yes. Plenty of critics are quick to point of Joe’s lack of fourth quarter comebacks ( I guess a playoff win in Tennessee doesn’t count for some reason) but today he pulled one out. There aren’t many tougher places to play than Pittsburgh and he had a good day (24-37 , 256 ) minus one floater that did not end up costing them, against a top defense. Kudos to the protection schemes and the line play as they had their best game of the season.
Is it time to replace Tom Zbikowski as punt returner?
Yes, please. I’ve grown tired of him running backwards and being indecisive as to when to call for a Fair catch , let it bounce, or run it out. The last return may have been called from the sideline but he caught it at the 50 with blockers running past him and appeared to have some daylight. In addition I’m not a fan of having a starter as your primary return man. It may be time to explore other options there.
Could the Three-Headed Monster have switched to the Passing game?
You saw some signs of it today. Seven different Ravens recievers caught passes with Boldin snagging 7 for 68 yards, Derrick Mason had 6 for 80 yards and Todd Heap and T.J. Houschmandzadeh combined for 6 catches 84 yards and the score. While we would always like to see more points on the board spreading the ball around and using the many weapons that have been acquired should keep defenses guessing.
How were the Ravens able to limit the Steelers defensive stars?
Even though the Ravens lost the turnover battle again they were able to put enough points together for the victory. Most of the day they did a nice job picking up the blitz and recognizing where Troy Polamalu was on the field. They were able to help double on James Harrison who had had monster games against Baltimore. Michael Oher did a commendable job though he had two penalties of his own and I might be seeing things but he tends to get off just a second too quick. (though if he doesn’t get caught I’m not complaining)