Many Happy Returns
The Ravens returning from injury each made significant contributions:
- Ronnie Stanley returned to LT and drastically upgraded the quality of play
- JK Dobbins ran 15 times for 120 yards and the Ravens only TD
- Marcus Williams had an interception with the Steelers driving and trailing 13-7 (Q3, 3:12)
And yes, the glass remains half empty without Lamar Jackson.
The Ravens allowed 8.0 yards per pass play, but that did not mean the Mitch Trubisky did not contribute some unforced errors.
The Steelers QBs had a rare, inverted game where they were much more effective under pressure (10.8 YPP on 15 plays) than not (5.7 YPP on 18 plays). Of Trubisky’s 3 interceptions, 2 came when he had ATS (ample time and space) in the pocket. The 3rd was on a ball thrown before pressure could develop (BOQ).
Missed Tackle Festival
TV sets across the region were subjected to a stream of profanity as the Ravens were unable to finish tackles. Let’s review:
- (Q1, 12:16): Madubuike was unable to take down RB Harris at 1 on RR3
- (Q1, 11:04): On 3rd/4, Queen was unable to pull down QB Pickett for S-8 but retracked him and flushed him right for Smith S-7
- (Q3, 5:59): After ATS, Bowser failed to take down Trubisky for S-7. The QB was then flushed left and threw PL10 to Harris
- (Q3, 5:16): Trubisky threw to WR Sims for PR11 (4 + 7)  with missed tackle from Peters at 4 yards
- (Q3, 3:54): Oweh had trailing coverage of WR Johnson on PL11 (5 + 6)  but was unable to bring him down at the spot of the catch
- (Q4, 14:09): On 3rd/8, Trubisky threw to RB Warren PR14 (-2 + 16)  including a missed tackle from Smith at 2 yards
- (Q4, 13:26): Peters failed to push RB Warren OOB at 4 yards on RR8 and was flagged for unnecessary roughness after the play for a fracas with RT Okorafor
In total, these plays netted the Steelers 5 first downs. As was the case with Trubisky’s interceptions, much of the Ravens adversity was self inflicted.
The FG block by Calais Campbell was the 22nd in Ravens history (per PFR). A few notes on these:
- 7 came in games where the Ravens margin of victory was 3 points or less (last 12/11/22)
- 1 more was returned for a game-winning TD (11/30/15 at Cleveland, Will Hill)
- 1 preserved a shutout (12/26/99 vs Cincinnati)
- Only once did the Ravens have 2 in a game (1/7/01 at Tennessee in the AFC Divisional win, both by Keith Washington)
- 3 occurred in the playoffs (add 1/6/19 to the 2 blocks at Tennessee on 1/7/01)
- The attempts have ranged from 20 and 60 yards in length with Chris Boswell’s 40-yarder the 10th shortest
- 3 times the officials have botched the spot for the ensuing Ravens drive (10/11/21, 10/23/16, 11/12/06)
- Former Cincinnati kicker Doug Pelfrey had 3 career kicks blocked by the Ravens. Al Del Greco (Ten) and Jason Myers (Jax) are the only others to have 2 kicks blocked.
Note: all snap totals exclude penalties resulting in no play, kneels, spikes, and specials team plays resulting in a run or pass. As such, they will be lower than other published totals.
The Steelers ran 53 such snaps.
Jumbo (1): The Ravens lined up with all 5 active DL, JPP, Queen, Smith, Humphrey, Stone, and Clark for 1st and goal at the 1 (Q1, 0:17). It was the first time I can ever recall the Ravens using 5 DL on the same play. 1 play, 1 yard.
Base (4): The Ravens used their base 3-4 defense for 4 snaps including 2 runs for 4 yards and 2 passes for 15. 4 plays, 19 yards, 4.3 YPP.
Big Nickel (37): The Ravens used the big nickel (3 S, 2 CB) for 37 snaps. Kyle Hamilton acted as the SCB for the vast majority of these snaps and was on the field for every nickel play. These included 15 runs for 55 yards and 22 passes for 182 yards (8.3 YPP). 37 plays, 237 yards, 6.4 YPP.
Jumbo Nickel (3): This version of the nickel included 3 down linemen, 2 OLB, and 1 ILB, 2 CB, and 3 S. The Ravens removed Patrick Queen for each of these plays and used Smith as the only ILB. 3 plays, 6 yards, 2.0 YPP.
Rush Nickel (4): This version of the nickel included 1 down linemen, 3 OLB, and 2 ILB. Both of these were big nickel and included Hamilton. All of them came on 3rd and long and 2 of the 4 plays ended drives. 4 plays, 23 yards, 5.8 YPP.
Rush Dime (4): This version of the dime included 1 down linemen, 3 OLB, and 1 ILB. Ar’Darius Washington was the 6th DB for each of these snaps and lined up at SCB. Macdonald deployed it for the first 3 plays of the last drive of the half (PR11, PL25, PR7) and for the drive-ending incomplete pass that preceded Campbell’s FG block (Q4, 11:24). 4 plays, 43 yards, 10.8 YPP.
Macdonald sent numbers (5+) on 10 of 33 drop backs resulting in a pass or sack, but those plays gained 100 yards (10.0 YPP). He also used moderate deception which similarly ineffective (see below).
For the game, Pickett and Trubisky had ATS on 9 of 33 drop backs (27%). On those plays, the Steelers gained 50 yards (5.6 YPP, 2 INTs). Trubisky also delivered the ball before pressure could develop (BOQ) 9 times (27%, 52 yards, 5.8 YPP, 1 INT). The Ravens generated a pressure event on 15 plays (45%) which gained 162 net yards (10.8 YPP), including both sacks.
Summarizing by number of pass rushers:
3: 5 plays, 43 yards, 8.6 YPP, 1 sack
4: 18 plays, 121 yards, 6.7 YPP, 1 sack, 2 TOs
5: 8 plays, 89 yards, 11.1 YPP, 1 TO
6+: 2 plays, 11 yards, 5.5 YPP
Total: 33 plays, 264 yards, 8.0 YPP, 2 sacks, 3 TOs
Macdonald dialed up 9 individual blitzes (.27 per pass play) from off the LoS, spread across 7 plays. Of the 9, 4 were from Smith and 3 from Queen. On the 7 plays where they blitzed, the Ravens allowed 86 yards (12.3 YPP).
The Ravens stunted 4 times (.12 per pass play), all of which were singles. Those 4 plays went for 66 net yards (16.5 YPP), including 2 QH (1 of which was ruled RTP).
The Ravens showed simulated pressure on 8 occasions where 2+ dropped from the LoS. Those plays went for a total of 60 yards (7.5 YPP), including Smith’s sack and 4 total pressure events.
I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures). The Ravens ran 3 deceptive rushes (9%) on which the Steelers gained 25 yards (8.3 YPP).
Individually, Bowser led the team with shares of 3 pressure events (2 full, 1 sack). Madubuike also had 3 pressures (2 full, 1 QH negated by RTP). Broderick Washington batted down a pass and had a QH.
- (Q1, 13:31): He touched down the sliding Pickett on RR3
- (Q1, 11:04): He pursued and took down Pickett off Queen’s missed sack after the pocket broke for S-7
- (Q1, 0:17): He attempted unsuccessfully to dislodge the football from RB Harris on his RM1 TD dive
- (Q2, 11:37): Trubisky threw to WR Johnson PR8 (8 + 0)  between Smith and Clark
- (Q2, 10:57): He was blocked by RG Daniels as part of RB Harris RM7
- (Q2, 10:22): He was blocked by LG Dotson in L2 which helped lead Harris RM8
- (Q2, 8:27): He touched down RB Snell RM1 with Campbell
- (Q2, 5:47): He undercut Trubisky’s red-zone pass for TE Freiermuth for an INT which he returned 19 yards
- (Q3, 15:00): He assisted on tackle of Harris RR0
- (Q3, 7:18): He touched down Harris RM1 with Queen
- (Q4, 14:09): On 3rd/8, Trubisky threw to RB Warren PR14 (-2 + 16)  and Roquan’s MT at 2 allowed conversion
- (Q4, 3:19): He registered a PD from Pierre-Paul behind as Trubisky threw for TE Freiermuth 4 yards 
- (Q4, 3:08): He had underneath coverage of TE Heyward on PM13 (13 + 0)  in front of Marcus Williams
- (Q4, 2:34): Trubisky threw PM10 (9 + 1)  to Freiermuth for the Steelers TD with Hamilton trailing and Smith closing
Roquan had a mixed-results day, but his big plays led the way for the Ravens defense.
- (Q1, 11:04): On 3rd/4, he raced through the left A-gap unblocked between LG Dotson and C Cole but missed S-8. His miss turned Pickett 180 degrees and flushed him right for Smith’s hard S-7.
- (Q2, 11:37): He blitzed through the right A-gap and Harris undercut him but he still managed QH on Trubisky on PR8
- (Q2, 9:05): On 3rd/1, he had trailing coverage of Harris on PR7 (1 + 6) 
- (Q2, 6:45): On 3rd/1, his NZI gave the Steelers a 1st Down
- (Q2, 0:26): He undercut Trubisky’s pass for Freiermuth 13 yards  for an INT closing from the OLS
- (Q3, 7:18): He assisted Smith on the tackle of Harris RM1
- (Q4, 12:58): Trubisky threw to RB Warren PR2 (-4 +6)  where Queen contained and tackled
- (Q4, 2:45): He had tight coverage of Harris 2 yards , incomplete but no PD was credited
After a difficult start to the game, Patrick came on to play well.
- (Q1, 13:31): He chased Pickett right from pocket on RR3
- (Q1, 12:16): He worked off double team from RG Daniels and C Cole but missed the tackle on RB Harris at 1 on RR3 tackled by Pierre-Paul
- (Q3, 4:34): He beat RG Daniels inside to blow up RB Warren RM-1 and assisted Oweh on tackle
- (Q4, 3:17): He stunted through the left B-gap off a pick from Campbell for a fast QH flagged as RTP tacked on to PL37
- (Q4, 3:08): He bulled then shed RG Daniels inside for pressure on PM13
- (Q4, 2:34): He bulled RG Daniels for pressure as Trubisky threw PM10 TD to Freiermuth
Justin provided pressure without much to show in the way of positive outcomes. The RTP was one of the worst I’ve seen and it was clear he was frustrated watching the replay on the video board.
- (Q1, 4:12): He backed up LT Moore and TE Heyward bounced off him before he tackled Harris RM1
- (Q1, 3:30): On 3rd/4, he mirrored Pickett as he rolled right and delivered a drive-ending PD
- (Q2, 9:45): He backed up LT Moore to hold the left edge as Jones tackled Harris RR1
- (Q3, 12:19): On 2nd/1, he tackled WR Johnson PR1 (2 -1)  off containment from Bowser and Peters
- (Q4, 12:58): He bulled then pancaked C Cole for QH as Trubisky threw PR2 to Warren
Broderick continues to deliver effective penetration vs the run and solid interior pressure. He leads the team with 5 PDs at the LoS.
- Roquan Smith
- Patrick Queen
- Broderick Washington
Honorable mention to Calais Campbell, Chuck Clark, Justin Madubuike, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Marcus Williams