The Ravens have played a solid first half and hold a 10-7 lead over the Steelers at the break.
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first 30 minutes of play:
- You've got to be impressed with the play of Joe Flacco so far today. Flacco is a solid 13-of-20 for 145 yards through the first half of play, and has done a nice job taking care of the football (he did lose one fumble, but it was recovered by the Ravens) and taking what the defense has given him. He's pushed the ball down the field on occasion, but has dumped the ball off to his underneath receivers when the deep options are covered, keeping Steelers safety Troy Polamalu at bay.
- The Baltimore offensive line has also done a very nice job keeping Flacco clean and giving him time to survey his options down the field. Tackles Michael Oher and Marshal Yanda have been effective containing the dangerous outside linebacker duo of James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, and tight end Todd Heap has been big as a pass blocker when he's stayed on the line of scrimmage.
- The Ravens talked this week about how they needed to keep their cool today and not take any stupid penalties. Through the first two quarters, they've done just that. Baltimore has only been flagged three times for 27 yards, compared to five penalties for 51 yards for the Steelers.
- Ray Rice has seen limited touches as he's still dealing with a knee bruise, but as I said earlier in the week, I like how Willis McGahee's running style matches up against this Pittsburgh defense. McGahee is a more physical runner than Rice and can grind out the tough yards between the tackles, but we saw he still can make some Rice-like moves in the open field, like when he left linebacker James Farrior's jock on the turf on his nine-yard touchdown run.
- Terrence Cody has been waiting to make his NFL debut for the last three weeks, but the rookie second-round nose tackle might not see much more action today after getting burned on what looked like his first snap of the afternoon. Cody got upfield, but left his gap assignment, which left a huge hole for Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall up the middle. He was pulled from the field, and hasn't seen much (if any) time since.
- The Ravens made an interesting lineup decision today, opting to line up 350 pound defensive tackle Brandon McKinney as their defensive end on first and second downs. Paul Kruger has come in on third downs to add more of a pass rush, but McKinney does more against the run, and brings (a lot more) added bulk up front.