What We Saw: Ravens at Steelers

Turnovers, drops, and sloppiness. Oh my!

Ravens @ Steelers

 

Oh, the weather outside was delightful, but the game itself was so frightful. In the first half alone, both teams combined for four turnovers (all in the first quarter), many drops, a missed extra point, and a failed trick play on the goal line as time expired in the half. Calling it sloppy would be an understatement, and the sloppiness continued into the second half as Steelers receivers simply could not hold onto the ball. There were at least five drops by Steelers’ receivers (and tight end Eric Ebron) that cost Pittsburgh some valuable yardage and points. Baltimore’s defense did their best by keeping it close throughout the game, a testament to a decimated defensive unit that clearly still showed up to play with an edge in a big rivalry game.

Down 19-7 late in the 4th quarter, Trace McSorley found Marquise Brown open down the left sideline, and Brown ran it 70 yards for the score to make this a game. On the Steelers’ next offensive possession, James Washington had maybe the catch of the game; On third down with 2:24 remaining in the 4th quarter, Ben Roethlisberger threw a floater that looked like it was getting picked off, but Washington made a tough grab in traffic and held onto it to convert a key first down and keep the ball in Pittsburgh’s hands. Pittsburgh held on to win the key divisional matchup 19-14.

 

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

Quarterback

 

Robert Griffin III: 7/12, 33 yards, INT, 3 sacks, fumble | 7 carries, 68 yards

Trace McSorley: 2/6, 77 yards, TD | 3 carries, 16 yards

 

After fumbling the ball on a botched option handoff on their second drive of the game, and after the Pick-6 he threw on their next drive, RGIII didn’t look completely useless in this one. His 68 yards on the ground were nice, helped by a long 39-yard scamper that looked just like the RGIII of old, but he left a lot to be desired through the air and that was simply a product of the elite Pittsburgh defense taking over the game.

 

 

 

On a run around the corner in the 3rd quarter, Griffin pulled up hobbling and favoring his right leg. He shook it off and stayed in the game, but by the middle of the 4th quarter it was clear that the injury was really bothering him. Enter Trace McSorley, the third-string QB who was just activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. He had a nice designed run around the right end to convert a fourth down, but was absolutely demolished by Minkah Fitzpatrick on the sideline. I’ve gotta give credit to McSorley for getting up after the hit and heading back to the huddle, because it looked like he got rocked. He would go on to throw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown later in the drive, but the throw wasn’t great and Brown did all of the work. It was McSorley’s first career touchdown.

This is a situation worth monitoring, as Baltimore plays again on Tuesday and if Lamar Jackson isn’t back in time, it may be a McSorley start if Griffin is still hurting and that isn’t something I’d ever want to touch in fantasy.

 

Running Backs

 

Gus Edwards: 9 carries, 10 yards, TD

Justice Hill: 9 carries, 35 yards | 2 targets, 2 catches, 5 yards

 

It’s hard to judge players against this Pittsburgh defense, but Gus Edwards didn’t look good on his few carries. Yes, he got the touchdown which salvaged an abysmal fantasy day, but he had no lanes to run through and was clearly impacted by the myriad of injured and COVID list players who missed this game. The touchdown also came on a short field after a muffed punt by Ray-Ray McCloud, so it’s not like the offense did anything to really put themselves in scoring position.

Justice Hill spelled him at times, and he did look better with more burst, but he also gained most of his yards on third-and-longs when the defense was secondary-heavy trying to prevent a long pass. That gave Hill some room to rack up yards, but he didn’t get any of the tough inside carries. He made a couple nice moves on defenders to gain some extra yards, and overall I still liked what I saw out of him. I still don’t think he’ll see any work once Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins return, but if they remain out for their game on Tuesday (doubtful) then Hill might be worth a dart throw.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

Marquise Brown: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 85 yards, TD

Devin Duvernay: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 20 yards

Dez Bryant: 2 targets

Luke Willson: 2 targets

James Proche II: 1 target

 

Woof. There’s not much to say besides Marquise Brown’s 70-yard touchdown late in the game, and he made a nice move to fake out Minkah Fitzpatrick which allowed him to get into the end zone, but it was otherwise a terrible day for Baltimore’s outside weapons. Luke Willson was targeted on a questionable 4th and goal trick play as time expired in the 1st half, leaving Baltimore scoreless in arguably their best scoring opportunity of the day. In hindsight, a touchdown there would have been a huge momentum swing for Baltimore, but the right move would have been to just take the points and kick the field goal.

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 36/51, 266 yards, TD, INT | 1 carry, -1 yard

 

Besides a poor interception on fourth and goal from the one-yard line early in the first quarter, where he missed a wide-open Derek Watt in the middle of the end zone, Ben Roethlisberger was actually pretty good in this one.

 

 

 

He was absolutely killed by drops, mostly from Eric Ebron and Diontae Johnson, and he would have had another 75+ yards and a touchdown had the Pittsburgh receiving corps not left their gloves in cooking oil for the last week. Seriously, there were so. many. drops.

 

 

Five honestly seems low. There were two passes that were “fumbled” moments after the receivers caught the ball (I’m looking at you, Diontae and JuJu), so the stats counted, but they were pretty much drops. Did I mention there were drops?

Yes, the Ravens’ defense was hurting and missing some key players, but Roethlisberger looked good, all things considered. He made some really good throws, including one to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a touchdown that was just out of the reach of the defender.

 

 

One thing that the broadcast kept mentioning is that Roethlisberger is getting the ball out of his hands earlier this season than he ever has in his career. That’s going to be huge in a game against Washington, one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league who also has a good secondary.

 

Running Backs

 

Benny Snell Jr.: 16 carries, 60 yards | 4 targets, 3 receptions, 33 yards

Anthony McFarland Jr.: 3 carries, 9 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 17 yards

 

Benny Snell looked alright in this one. He had a nice stiff arm on Marcus Peters late in the game that was a highlight play, but otherwise, it was mostly just a decent showing from a backup who likely will never excel in a starting role. Snell has good feet, and he always seems to fall forward, but he’s just not fast enough to get around the edge and break out a large gain like the best backs in the league can do. It was a nice development, however, seeing him on the receiving end of four targets in this one, as that’s not usually a part of his game. It helped prop up his overall PPR numbers, and 12.3 fantasy points from a backup RB in your Flex position can be useful. I’d like to see more of that going forward if James Conner remains out.

 

 

Anthony McFarland only had three carries on the day, but he looked much more explosive than Snell did. He also lined up wide in a five receiver set (or really four receivers and a back, but whatever), and ended up converting a 3rd and 10 on the play with a 17-yard reception. I’d like to see more of McFarland because there might be something there with him.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

 

JuJu Smith Schuster: 9 targets, 8 receptions, 37 yards, TD, fumble

Diontae Johnson: 13 targets, 8 receptions, 46 yards, fumble

Chase Claypool: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 52 yards

Eric Ebron: 11 targets, 7 receptions, 54 yards

James Washington: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards

Ray-Ray McCloud: 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards, fumble

 

Let’s see what I have in my notes here…

  • Chase Claypool dropped his first target after it bounced off his hands
  • He went on to drop another one in the end zone later in the drive
  • Diontae Johnson dropped a pass on the next play. It hit him in the hands and he took his eyes away from the ball as he turned towards the end zone. It likely would have been close to a TD, if not in the end zone entirely.
  • Eric Ebron had a red zone drop
  • Ray-Ray McCloud muffed a punt, which directly led to a Baltimore TD
  • Diontae had what would have been a nice long catch down to the 3 yard line, but the defender made a nice play and knocked it out of his hands.
  • Both Diontae and JuJu Smith-Schuster caught passes that they then immediately fumbled after, negating any positive fantasy points they earned on the play.

 

Head Coach Mike Tomlin didn’t mince words after the game, as he wasn’t happy with his offense’s performance.

 

 

It wasn’t all terrible, but this could have been a much bigger day for basically the entire offense had they not made so many mistakes. There were still some positives. Ebron had a nice catch down the sideline and was also on the receiving end of three red zone targets, one of which he caught at the one-yard line and just missed crossing the goal line. Diontae was targeted on five straight plays at one point, further proving that he is actually the number one receiver in this offense over JuJu. And JuJu did score a touchdown, giving him a respectable 16.7 fantasy points on the day.

In fact, all four of Claypool, JuJu, Diontae and Ebron had respectable fantasy days, but man, it could have been so much better. Here’s to hoping they figure it out in time for Monday’s showdown against Washington.

 

 

Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

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