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Old 11-27-2006, 05:54 AM   #1
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Default Game 11 Report Card: Steelers vs. Ravens

Game 11 Report Card: Steelers vs. Ravens
Monday, November 27, 2006


GERRY DULAC grades the Steelers' effort in the 27-0 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore yesterday. The report is broken down into defensive and offensive positions, special teams and coaching.

It is never a good day when Ben Roethlisberger is involved in 13 negative plays -- nine sacks, two interceptions and two fumbles. Especially when one of the fumbles was returned for a touchdown, the fourth time this season one of his turnovers has been returned for a score. But Roethlisberger wasn't helped, either, by at least three drops.

Willie Parker had a 12-yard run on his second carry yet gained only 10 yards on his other nine attempts, his second-lowest output of the season. What's more, he and Najeh Davenport had problems picking up blitzers once the Ravens got on top.

Nate Washington had the longest play of the game -- a 27-yard catch in the third quarter -- and finished with four catches for 49 yards. But he also dropped another pass in the end zone, his third this season. WR Hines Ward played with a hyperextended knee and finished with four catches, but he also had a drop and was assessed a senseless 15-yard personal foul penalty.

The Steelers had difficulty with their protection, resulting in nine sacks and a 57-yard touchdown return on a Roethlisberger fumble. And it wasn't just any one player. It was a complete breakdown all the way across the line. On top of all that, the running game managed a season-low 21 yards on 11 carries.

The numbers look respectable -- the Ravens had 114 yards rushing on 35 carries -- but it doesn't begin to indicate the way the Ravens controlled the line of scrimmage in the first half. Jamal Lewis ran through big holes and finished with 66 yards on 17 carries. He had four runs of 8 yards or longer in the first half when the Ravens had 94 yards rushing.

Breakdowns are everywhere when the opponents average 5.8 yards on first down in the first half, including 9 yards in the first quarter. Or when they get 16 first downs in the opening 30 minutes. QB Steve McNair was not sacked and wasn't intercepted, and the linebackers never seemed to know what he was doing.

McNair completed his first six passes en route to finishing with 140 yards and a touchdown, but the modest numbers do not begin to illustrate the efficiency -- and ease -- with which he moved the Ravens' offense.

Najeh Davenport muffed a kickoff that put the Steelers back at their 12 and averaged just 15 yards on four returns. Chris Gardocki had punts of 27 and 32 yards in the first half, the latter giving the Ravens good field position and resulting in their second touchdown. The only good news is that the Steelers had to kick off just once, but even that resulted in a 30-yard return.

Bill Cowher called it a "pitiful performance" and said the Steelers were outcoached, and he was right. The defense was off balance the entire game and the offense had no answer for the different defensive looks used by the Ravens. The F they get stands for flat, which is inexcusable in what should have been a desperation game.
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