ReFo: Ravens @ Steelers, Week 9

After losing by 20 points in the first meeting the Steelers beat the Ravens by 20 points in the rematch and Ben Stockwell covers the difference for both teams

| 3 years ago

ReFo: Ravens @ Steelers, Week 9

2014-REFO-WK09-BAL@PITAfter a second road defeat in as many games the Baltimore Ravens have now slipped from first to last in the AFC North in eight days. Already reeling from a close loss in Cincinnati last week the Ravens frittered away an early lead as the Pittsburgh Steelers rediscovered the form that saw them power past the Indianapolis Colts a week ago.

All four AFC North teams now sit above .500 with the Steelers sporting the longest winning streak in the division at three. For the first time this season Le’Veon Bell was kept quiet but Ben Roethlisberger and the passing game paired with some vintage moments of Pittsburgh defensive defiance saw off the Ravens. Roethlisberger is just the second quarterback to pass for six touchdowns in the same season since Y.A. Tittle but he’s done it in consecutive games.

Baltimore Ravens – Performances of Note

Brandon Williams, NT, +0.6

Breakdown: The Ravens’ stop machine at nose tackle turned in another impressive display in run defense taking his season total to 20, including nine in the Ravens’ last two defeats. A non factor as a pass rusher Williams’ five stops in run defense came on 19 snaps; better than one stop for every four snaps in run defense.

Signature Stat: For the season only Damon Harrison of the Jets has a better Run Stop Percentage than Williams among defensive tackles.

Jeremy Zuttah, C, -6.6

Breakdown: One of a number of sobering performances for the Ravens came from Zuttah in the heart of their offensive line. While Marshal Yanda turned in another strong performance next to him, Zuttah all too often allowed Pittsburgh defenders to lock onto him and was consistently driven back on both run and pass plays.

Signature Stat: The eight pressures Zuttah surrendered yesterday were more than he surrendered in the Ravens’ first eight games combined (7 Hu).

Lardarius Webb, CB, -5.6

Breakdown: Not that the stat sheet doesn’t imply it but the Ravens’ secondary neither covered nor tackled the Steelers’ receivers well last night. Webb registered a team high three missed tackles and surrendered his fourth 100 yard game in the last two seasons.

Signature Play: That was thanks in large part to surrendering the Steelers’ third touchdown just before the half, beaten deep by Markus Wheaton for a 53 yarder with 0:53 left in the second quarter.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Performances of Note

Antonio Brown, WR, +0.8 receiving

Breakdown: Drops and a false start draw Brown’s grade down a little but this was another productive display by the league’s best receiver to this point in 2014. Once again devastating after the catch Brown racked up a season high 93 yards after the catch evading five tackles which is a career high.

Signature Play: The Steelers didn’t build on their half-time lead until the 14:01 mark in the fourth when Brown stiff armed Will Hill to ground before picking an angle through the rest of the secondary for his 54 yard receiving score.

James Harrison, OLB, +4.7

Breakdown: Arthur Moats may have had the start at ROLB but Harrison had more snaps (41 to 30) and the greater impact as he terrorized Joe Flacco in the pocket as he has so often before. His six takedowns of Flacco (2 Sk, 4 Ht) takes him to 13 in his last three games converting all but two of his quarterback pressures in the Steelers’ three game home stand into sacks or hits.

Signature Play: Harrison re-acquainted himself with Flacco at the 3:37 mark in the first, his first sack against the Ravens since Week 13 2012, driving outside Eugene Monroe to see the Ravens off the field on third down.

Antwon Blake, CB, +2.3

Breakdown: Seeing the first significant action of his career (37 career snaps before his 35 snaps last night) Blake provided the Steelers with the best coverage they have had all season across from William Gay. Surrendering only three catches on seven targets Blake got his hands to two passes and only surrendered one yard after the catch on the three completions he did allow.

Signature Play: Recorded his two pass defenses on the Ravens’ final scoring drive, the second of them coming on a perfectly timed drive & hit on a slant by Torrey Smith with 4:15 left in the game.

PFF Game Ball

This was like a Ravens-Steelers game of old with James Harrison leading the line for the Steelers defense knocking down Joe Flacco multiple times as the Steelers’ offense piled on the points in the second and fourth quarters.


Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

  • Josh Knepshield

    James Harrison is a freak of nature. Absolutely took over the game last night.

    • Chris

      I’m really disappointed his skillset couldn’t translate to a 4-3 SLB with the Bengals. He is a tremendous edge defender in a 3-4 and he was a wrecking crew last night. Plus thanks to Suggs he wasn’t the dirtiest player on the field!

      • Jay

        Depends what you mean by dirty. Thanks to overnight rule changes he was cast as dirty. Though (in my opinion) he was unfairly targeted by officials to a point where even Ray Lewis and other Ravens defenders even defended him.

        • Chris

          My comment was mainly a shot at Suggs for his dirty hit on Blount and a jab at Harrison.

  • Madi

    I suppose it’s a plus for the Steelers that Ben throwing for 6 TDs no longer warrants a mention :-)

    I’m sorry, but a +0.8 receiving for AB signifies a problem with your grading. I know he dropped a bubble screen that would have resulted in about 3 yards, but how does 11/144/1 (plus drawing a few penalties downfield) not merit a day in the green?

    Unless he’s on the new Antonio Brown scale of grading. I suppose it was a pretty average night for him.

    • Chris

      1. Ben got a -1.3 as a runner, because of that fumble, which brought down his overall grade to a +1.2. His passing grade was +2.4, which i still think is low given that he was 25/37 with 4 drops and 340 yards/6 TDs. But I didn’t get to watch the game because I was travelling so I have no idea how he actually played. He did have about half his yards from YAC so maybe they’re saying he wasn’t solely responsible for most of those big plays like he was last week?

      2. As far as Brown, yea he had 11 for 144 and a TD, but 92 of those yards came from YAC and he had 2 drops. I think +0.8 is about right for that performance.

      • Mike Hokslong

        So a guy throws the ball 37 times and runs it once, and that run cuts his overall grade for the game in half. Does PFF not see the faulty logic in their grading system? It’s no wonder so many bash the methods of this site.

        • Chris

          Fumbling/turning the ball over is never a good thing no matter how it happens. It probably cost him a full point on his grade. I don’t see how you could argue that.

          • Mike Hokslong

            6 TD passes = 2 points and a fumble when the game was already out of reach is -1 point. That somehow equals a +1.2 grade? Common sense would tell anyone that those 42 points off of TD passes greatly outweigh a fumble. This is just more nonsensical garbage and why a subjective grading system applied to a chaotic game like football is meaningless garbage for statistical nerds who don’t understand the sport and need to assign a number grade to give it meaning.

          • Mike Hokslong

            Carson Palmer threw 3 fewer TD’s than Ben, had a PICK 6, fewer yards, lower YPA, a lower completion percentage, lower QB Rating and rushed for -2 yards vs Ben’s +1 yard & first down conversion. He somehow was PFF’s 2nd rated QB this week and graded 3 points higher than Ben. Reconcile that in your statistically nerdiest way possible please.

          • Chris

            LOL you worked up yet or nah?

            You list all these stats but stats don’t matter when you grade every play. If a QB (Ben) makes an easy throw to a WR (Brown) who then makes a great play making several players miss on the way to a long TD, should the QB get a high grade on the play? He didn’t do anything any other QB in the league couldn’t do.

            They don’t simply look at the statsheet and assign a grade for the game, they watch every single throw multiple times and judge not only how good the QB was but how what he did impacted the play. It’s the same reason we don’t credit the QB for TDs on running plays – all he did was hand it off to the HB. If all the QB did was throw a slant and the WR takes it 80 yards, there’s very little skill involved.

            You seem to be personally offended that a website would dare rate your team’s QB so low on what the statsheet deems to be a great outing.

          • SMF

            PFF is flat out wrong and you now just convinced me. Pouncey said the fumble by Ben was a bad snap by him. Why blame the QB; since you just pontificated that easy short passes and long WR runs are not good QB play. Neither is another players bad snap.

          • Chris

            I didnt grade the game, nor did I see it as I mentioned above. All I did was say that turnovers are never a good thing, and they docked him for a fumble. Maybe they’ll update it later in the week.

          • Adam

            I think the most realistic answer is this: while PFF has some really interesting analysis, their grading system is flawed in a pretty serious way. This isn’t really a problem unless people take their grades as a be-all end-all of football analysis… which unfortunately a lot of people seem to do.

          • Chris

            I respectfully disagree with you.

          • Adam

            Well, that’s fair. I don’t really have a problem with anyone liking PFF… I mean I’m on here right, so it must mean I find them a worthwhile read. It just seems like everywhere on the internet people are quoting player grades ( 15.2 vs 8.4 etc…) as though it’s a 100% fact. I think you could find coaches all over the NFL who would grade any given play differently than each other, and that’s assuming they know the playcall for both teams which PFF just can’t know for sure. “Grading” a sport like football is just so tricky, which is why I also have huge problems with ESPN’s incredibly subjective QBR stat. But hey that’s just me, and everyone else is entitled to their own opinion as well.

        • Richard

          I think the flaw in their system is that standard plays don’t earn grades. Their metric is basically a great play vs bad play score. Essentially a QB could go 30 of 30 for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns and earn a bad grade if he were to fumble just 1 time if none of those completions were outside of what the QB was expected to do. I have recently been finding some odd grades that don’t make sense to me. If I weren’t so involved with ranking all 100 QB superbowl performances for my website I would grade this game and the Palmer game you suggest later on with my system to see how it they would compare. I am starting to agree that there is a flaw to PFF’s system and I’m not sure if it is the difference in graders doing each game or if the system is flawed but I do find myself disagreeing with the numbers the more I really look at them.

          I will also add that it is hard to come up with a perfect grading system. I had to change mine multiple times to get out the flaws I kept seeing. In my grading of all 100 QB Super Bowl performances I didn’t agree with the list 100%. There are just so many factors involved. The biggest flaw I have in my system is comparing 1 game to another based completely on a final grade. It just doesn’t work 100% of the time because of how a game plays out. For that reason I will have guys with close grades listed out of order based on how the game played out. 2 Guys could play similar games but 1 of them made mistakes early and the other one made mistakes late. The one that made the mistakes early then made plays to win the game late while the other guy made mistakes to lose the game. In those instances you have to put the guy that won the game late ahead of the guy that lost the game late even though he had a slightly better grade when you’re comparing 2 games to each other. I feel my system is pretty good though to compare seasons and careers.

          • Richard

            I would add that I think the great play vs bad play metric that this site basically is works well for most positions but it doesn’t work for Quarterbacks and probably not for Running backs either.

      • Madi

        I’ll give you a hint: he played fantastic. No gimme TDs. All beautiful passes, 5 of them from a decent or long distance, and even the short one was a great play. Even the one AB took to the house was a pretty long throw and a great play by Ben. He earned all 6 TDs. He fumbled a snap, which is really the only negative play he had (unless you seriously want to weigh each incompletion evenly with his touchdowns).

        I’m not accusing PFF of anti-Steelers bias. I’m accusing them of having their heads up their asses. It’s not the first time. They felt that Alex Smith’s 44 point playoff performance last year was worth a 0.7 – because of a sack/fumble and an incompletion. They are not afraid to wipe the board clean when they feel like it.

        I keep this link handy. Check it out – I’m surprised their not too embarrassed to take it down.

        It’s a pattern – Smith fumbles and throws an incompletion, and a fantastic game and statistically phenomenal performance is erased all but 0.7. Ben throws 6 TDs, but fumbles and throws an incompletion… you get the idea.

        And “there’s more to it than stats” just doesn’t cut it, because the “more to it” in both cases should improve the players’ grades. Alex Smith delivered a pristine pass on 4th and 10 to put his team in FG range and win the game, but his receiver got lost and didn’t make the effort to get his feet in bounds. Ben also was the leader of that win. He did the work. He was as good or better than the stats.

        PFF is either being straight up stupid, or condescending snobs via stupidity. I guess I’ll never know which.

  • Izach

    I have to agree with mike in principle on this one despite his rant his point is right, weather you look at stats or watch game film, no way Palmer had a better game than Big Ben, yes his grade is huge, AB had 2 drops and a penalty but his game was better than a .8, I don’t mind PFFs grading each individual aspect, but combining each aspect into a score as if all parts were equal is where they mess up. Over all tho I appreciate that they try and keep very good stats, grading is always subjective.