For once, the entire Baltimore Ravens team showed up and worked as one unified and cohesive unit. It was truly beautiful, and it allowed for the normally pitiful Ravens squad to beat one of the league's better teams. Everything went right for the Ravens. They got big turnovers, didn't create opportunities for the opposition, and played good and smart football. It was truly a thing of beauty, and it certainly didn't look like anything the team has done thus far this season.
Here is what I took away from the Ravens' stellar performance today.
- Ryan Mallett threw the ball when and wherever he wanted. He was incredibly efficient, and looked so much better than his counterpart Ben Roethlisberger. Mallett's throws were crisp, clean, and very accurate. Those words don't come to mind when you think of Mallett, but he looked like a totally different quarterback today. Mallett might just have a future in Baltimore.
- Javorius Allen busted out of the so-called 'doghouse' that he was placed in last week. Allen got 18 carries and averaged 4.4 yards against a rather difficult Steelers' front seven. Allen also took one to the house and was heavily involved in the passing game. There is no doubt that Allen is Baltimore's back for the future.
- The offensive line as a whole is finally on the same page. In previous games, the passing attack was plagued by stout pass rushes. That was not the case in this one, as the patchwork offensive line finally worked together to stop the rush. Mallett only hit the ground once, and was rarely pressured.
- Baltimore's front seven got to the quarterback early and often. Roethlisberger was sacked three times in key situations, and was pressured a lot in this one. Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams have really grown into the players we thought they would be, and were crucial in the trenches. Za'Darius Smith has also impressed. He's seen the the field a lot more lately, and has four sacks to show for it.
- While the penalties committed by the secondary were painful to watch, the group did a good job against one of the league's premier passing attacks. The receivers were practically locked down, with Antonio Brown only being able to snag seven catches for just 61 yards, and deep threat Martavis Bryant catching just one pass for six yards.
- Penalties. They were everywhere. The Ravens gave upwards of 120 yards to the Steelers in the form of penalties, most of which came from the secondary conceding foolish pass interference. The offensive line was also a big culprit, with many of the young players jumping too early and making silly mistakes. You also can't talk about penalties and not mention Courtney Upshaw, who wiped a pick-six off the board with an offsides call. In a bad season like this, discipline is key, and the Ravens didn't possess it today.
- C.J. Mosley's inability to cover in the pass game was on full display in this one. The matchup of Mosley v. Williams was too much for the linebacker, and Williams emerged as the Steelers' most dangerous receiving weapon with six receptions for 53 yards. We've seen this issue with Mosley earlier, and its only festered as the season has worn on.
- The referees earn this distinction. They forgot that you can't challenge a runner being contacted if they didn't lose possession of the ball, and also ignored a huge dirty play by James Harrison, who hit low on Ryan Mallett.