Steelers 26 – Ravens 9
Steelers Receiving Stats:
Martavis Bryant: 3 receptions for 48 yards
Juju Smith-Schuster: 3 receptions for 47 yards – 1 Touchdown
Le’Veon Bell: 4 receptions for 42 yards
Jesse James: 3 receptions for 40 yards
Antonio Brown: 4 receptions for 35 yards
Justin Hunter: 1 reception for 5 yards
Le’Veon Bell: 25 rushes for 144 yards, Avg: 4.1 yards
James Conner: 15 rushes for 61 yards, Avg: 6.5 yards
Darrius Heyward-Bey: 1 rushes for 3 yards, Avg: 3.0 yards
Terrell Watson: 1 rushes for 1 yard, Avg: 1.0 yards
Chris Boswell – 2 for 3, PCT: 66.7%, PTS: 8
In a game where the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense underwhelmed, and the defense established themselves as one of the premier units in the NFL, the Steelers redeemed themselves after a poor showing last week, with an impressive victory against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, improving their record to 3-1.
From the opening of the game, the Steelers’ defense came out aggressively at Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and established their dominance against a seemingly overwhelmed Ravens offensive line. Steelers defensive end and defensive captain, Cameron Heyward, accounted for 2 sacks and a forced fumble in the first half. Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree imposed his will on the Ravens offensive line, accounted for several pressures, half a sack and 3 tackles. Undrafted free agent cornerback Mike Hilton had a strong performance with 4 tackles, a sack, a pass defended, and an interception late in the game to seal the victory for the Steelers.
Perhaps the player that had the most impact for the Steelers on this day was fourth-year linebacker Ryan Shazier. Shazier was everywhere and anywhere on the field, making plays in a variety of fashions. Shazier accounted for 11 tackles, an interception, and 3 passed defended — one of which resulted in Hilton’s interception. The Steelers’ run defense that allowed over 200 yards on the ground last week, relegated the Ravens running backs to just 82 yards. Coming into this game, the Steelers defense amassed a total of 11 sacks and was third ranked on defense in the NFL. After today’s contest, they will increase their sack total to 15, and establish themselves as one of the elite defensive units in the NFL.
The main story on offense for the Steelers was All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. With much controversy surrounding his holdout during training camp, and many criticizing his performance in the first 3 games, Bell did his part to quiet the critics, accounting for 186 yards of total offense (144 rushing, 42 receiving), which included two rushing touchdowns.
Rookie Running back James Conner made his presence felt in the first quarter with a 23-yard run which helped set the tone for the offense. Fourth-year receiver Martavis Bryant did his part by collecting 48 yards on 3 receptions, and rookie receiver Juju Smith-Schuster accounted for 47 receiving yards and a touchdown.
The other story in this game involved some theatrics with All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. In a sequence where Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger failed to find a wide open Brown, resulting in the Steelers punting the ball, Brown did not hide his frustration on the sideline soon after. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming games how this occurrence may affect his relationship with Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
Antonio Brown’s frustration in many ways can be seen as a reflection of how many may feel about Haley’s offense thus far. For an offense that is spoiled with a talent, they are clearly underachieving. The first half of the game was perhaps their best showing so far this season and gave people a small sample of how potent this offense can be. Unfortunately, due to penalties and questionable play calling, the Steelers were not able to continue their offensive momentum in the third quarter, and for a brief period, the Ravens seemed to threaten their lead, but the Steelers’ defense stepped up their game.
With Patriots losing this afternoon, the AFC is wide open for taking. This Steelers team has all the ingredients necessary to be the best team in the AFC, perhaps in the NFL, if the offense starts playing to their potential. We saw glimpses of what this offense can do in the first half, the Steelers now have to take that to the next level.
Steelers Play of the Day:
Bud Dupree and Stephon Tuitt converge to make the big sack on Joe Flacco.
Steelers Player of the Week:
Ryan Shazier: On a day where several Steelers defenders rose to the occasion, Shazier was the player that stood out the most. Shazier accounted for 11 tackles, 3 passed defended and an interception. What was evident about Shazier is how his play not only affected the Ravens offense, but how it benefited his teammates. Cornerback Mike Hilton‘s interception late in the 4th quarter was as a result of a pass deflected by Shazier. When he is healthy and on the field, Shazier is arguably one of the top 5 defensive players in the NFL.