Even with their backups playing most of the game, the Baltimore Ravens slammed the door shut on the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ playoff hopes Sunday, beating their AFC North rivals 28-10 to close out a dominant regular season for Baltimore.
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The weather conditions didn't help, but quarterback Robert Griffin III looked rusty in the win against the Steelers. Griffin's movement in the pocket resulted in multiple pressures and sacks that could have been avoided. In addition, he completed just 11 of his 21 passes and most of his 96 passing yards came after the catch.
Rookie running back Justice Hill looked impressive in limited action against the Steelers. Hill gained almost all of his rushing yards after contact as he was tough to tackle. Furthermore, he forced multiple missed tackles both on his run plays and his receptions.
The Steelers wanted to lean on their running game, and while they did break off some chunk gains, they weren't consistently able to, in part because of the power displayed by the Ravens run defense. Nobody exemplified this more than Justin Ellis, an afterthought when many are talking about Baltimore, but a player who has quietly come in and made a nice contribution when asked to.
If there is a problem with the Ravens run defense, it's once you get past those big bodies up front. All too often this season, with Sunday no exception, Patrick Onwuasor has failed to make a play when an offensive linemen gets near him.
Facing a team prepared to blitz him all day long, Devlin Hodges looked anything but assured. Even when he was able to find receivers, the conditions and his receivers conspired to put the ball on the ground and end a disappointing season for the Steelers.
If there was a bright spot it was the running of rookie Benny Snell. The blocking wasn't always the greatest, but he showed the ability to maximize holes inside, while showing a turn of speed when bouncing it outside.
Edge defender T.J. Watt continued his impressive season as he made multiple plays in the backfield, including a forced fumble in the third quarter. However, his three penalties also hurt the team and he also struggled to come off blocks on a couple run plays.
Cornerback Steven Nelson put together probably the best performance on the Steelers defense against Baltimore. Nelson played well in coverage and was one of the main reasons why Baltimore did not have success throwing the football. Even though he was one of the more frequently targeted Pittsburgh defenders, he gave up just one reception on the day.