The best team in football just got their lunch handed to them 35-7. Now they must regroup, put this game behind them and get back to the basics. The Steelers arch rival Baltimore Ravens beat them in every capacity of the game, defense, offense, and special teams. It was like watching an NFL team against a college team. But with all that said, it was just one game, and one loss, now they must move on, put this game behind them and get ready to host the reorganized Seattle Seahawks this weekend at Heinz Field.
|HUNGRY BIRD—Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis reacts after intercepting a pass by Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the second half in Baltimore, Sept. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
The Seahawks won the NFC West last season with a 7-9 record and many people pick them to repeat this season, but with a much better record. Gone however, is long time quarterback Matt Hasselbeck who replaced Vince Young in Tennessee. Minnesota Vikings castoff Tarvaris Jackson is the new signal caller in Seattle, however, he didn’t look very impressive in his debut.
Ted Ginn Jr. returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in a minute’s span late in the fourth quarter and the San Francisco 49ers gave coach Jim Harbaugh a 33-17 victory over the visiting Seahawks in his much-hyped NFL debut and renewed coaching rivalry with Seattle’s Pete Carroll.
Ginn ran a kickoff back 102 yards moments after the Seahawks had closed within 19-17. It was the second-longest kick return at home and fourth-longest in team history.
Jackson threw a late 55-yard touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin, who played for Harbaugh at Stanford. Jackson was 21 of 37 for 197 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Neither team was impressive on offense or defense, take away the two run backs, and the score would have been 19-17.
The running game wasn’t very impressive either with Marshawn Lynch only picking up 33 yards on 13 carries. This was a contest in which two weak teams did battle and one had to win. The Steelers should have no problem getting back on track against Seattle, they have absolutely nothing in comparison with the Steelers. But that’s why the play the game.
“That’s pretty easy to assess, Ladies and Gentlemen. We got handled in all three phases today,” Coach Mike Tomlin said in addressing his teams’ performance. “We accept responsibility for the plays that we made and didn’t make. We compliment them at the same time for the way that they performed in all areas. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do. We didn’t stop those guys enough. We didn’t turn around enough ball carriers. We didn’t get off enough on third down. We didn’t create turnovers. We never found rhythm. When that happens versus a good team you’re going to get beat the way we got beat today. We don’t like it, but we accept it, and we’ll respond accordingly. No significant injuries to mention in the game. James Harrison went off, we’ll call it a knee contusion at this point until further review, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. All the others are bumps and bruises that go along with getting dominated the way we got beat today.”
The Ravens, probably the second best team the Steelers will face this year, the first being the New England Patriots, were handed the game via seven turnovers by the Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions, lost two fumbles on sacks by Terrell Suggs and lost another on a handoff exchange. Mewelde Moore fumbled at the Ravens’ 17 after a 22-yard reception and Rashard Mendenhall also fumbled. Suggs sacked Roethlisberger three times, ending the game with his third.
Those seven turnovers helped the Ravens run over the Steelers, 35-7, their worst opening-day loss since Dallas beat them 37-7 to start the 1997 season.
Although their overwhelming victory Sunday provided a bit of payback for their playoff loss coach John Harbaugh and his players have turned their attention toward this season.
And Baltimore could not have possibly started it any better. Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, Halon Ngata led an inspired defense that forced the team-record seven turnovers, and the Ravens rolled to their most lopsided victory in a hotly contested series that began in 1996. Ray Rice ran for 107 yards and scored twice for the Ravens, who bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never let up.
The Ravens got three takeaways in the third quarter to turn a 21-7 advantage into a rout.
Ngata was the driving force Sunday, causing a fumble and deflecting a pass that produced an interception. Ed Reed also picked off two passes for the Ravens, who mercilessly harassed nemesis Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger had won seven straight starts against the Ravens, but in this one he was 22 for 41 for 280 yards and three interceptions.
Flacco went 17 for 29 without an interception, getting the best of Roethlisberger and giving the Ravens an early advantage over their AFC North foes.
In the past 51 games, only twice has Pittsburgh allowed a runner to reach 100 yards. Rice did it both times.
One bright spot in the game was Mike Wallace 107 yards on 8 catches and Hines Ward grabbing 5 balls to bring him within 41 of the exclusive 1,000 catch club that only 7 others have achieved. Ike Taylor did a great job in shutting down Lee Evans. The cornerbacks can not be blamed for this defeat, they did an outstanding job overall.