The Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 39-38 on yet another last minute field goal from Chris Boswell. In 3 of the last 4 games, Boswell has kicked the game-winning field goal. There is no doubt that this is a special team and their AFC-best 11-2 record reflects that. Who excelled and who didn’t? Let’s look at the winners and losers:
In the first half of the season, Big Ben was not his usual self. His throws were inaccurate. He was inconsistent and ineffective. In the second half, Ben has been back to being one of the best quarterbacks in the league. On a night where the defense could not stop the Ravens, the offense was needed to save the day. Roethlisberger went 44 of 66 for 506 yards and 2 touchdowns. I thought maybe old age was catching up to him – oops!
One player who has been consistent all season is Antonio Brown. Tonight he had 11 catches for 213 yards on 18 targets. At this point I can copy and paste ‘Brown made a huge catch near the end of the game to secure a game-winning field goal’ and put it in every recap because it seems to happen every week!
Before the start of the season, Bell turned down a long term contract offer from the Steelers because he thought he was the best running back in the league, one of the best receivers and deserved to be paid as the best. He has proved that he is the best running back in the league, rushing for 48 yards, 2 touchdowns, and getting 9 receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown receiving. The Steelers offense was supposed to be one of the best in the league, and they’re finally living up to that potential.
Vance McDonald was expected to be the go-to tight end in the Steelers offense but he’s been hurt so the burden has fallen to Jesse James. James delivered this week, getting 10 receptions for 97 yards on 12 targets. When Big Ben gets in trouble, he knows he can count on throwing it to Bell or James on the check down.
The Steelers are so lucky to have such a clutch kicker in Chris Boswell. He’s so automatic but we have to remember, he’s nailing field goals from over 40 and 50 yards. In 3 of the past 4 games, he has kicked a field goal in the last minute to win it. He’s only missed 3 field goals all year.
The defense had a forgettable night, but TJ Watt stood out with the only sack of the night and 4 tackles. It is expected that rookies hit the ‘rookie wall’ as the season goes on because they’re not used to playing so many games, but that certainly hasn’t been the case with Watt.
I’ve been waiting for Bryant to become a big part of this offense all year and it still hasn’t happened. I’m officially done waiting for him to contribute. In this game he had 6 catches for 33 yards on 10 targets. He’s had his chances to be a big part of this offense and it just hasn’t happened. The team missed JuJu Smith-Schuster but they get him back next week against the Patriots.
The entire defense
Where do we begin? Obviously they were going to miss Inside Linebacker Ryan Shazier as he was a tackle machine and heart and soul of the defense. He was replaced by 2 players – Arthur Moates (moving from outside linebacker) and Sean Spence (recently signed). It shouldn’t be a surprise that they struggled. The defense will have to adjust to the new group of personnel.
The loss of Shazier wasn’t the only problem with the defense though – they had problems tackling any of the Ravens, allowing Alex Collins go get 120 yards on 18 carries. The secondary has been terrible since Joe Haden was injured with a broken leg and they can’t get him back fast enough.