Yeah, this is Ravens-Steelers, alright.
Very few points, lots of pushing, some blood...all the familiar pieces of this rivalry are in place, and after one half of play, the Ravens have a 7-0 lead over their arch rivals.
Here are a few notes from the first 30 minutes of play:
- The Ravens have gotten consistent pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, sacking him twice, forcing him to move around in the pocket, and even bloodying the Steelers' QB. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been dominating Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey, forcing the Steelers to bring help from their guards. That's opened up space for Terrell Suggs and Jarret Johnson to operate on the outside, and they've brought the heat from the edges.
- A good portion of the Ravens' pressure on Big Ben has come from Suggs, who has 1.5 sacks on the night. That gives him nine sacks on the season, which already doubles his total from all of last year. It's also the highest sack total Suggs has posted in a season since 2006, when he had 9.5 sacks.
- The Ravens are killing themselves with penalties tonight. They've been flagged seven times for 43 yards, and a few of those have come in big spots, putting them in third-and-long situations. Michael Oher's false start late in the second quarter was particularly brutal, as it backed them up on the edge of field goal range. A Pittsburgh sack two plays later forced the Ravens to punt.
- As I had expected, the Ravens are following in the footsteps of the Patriots, Saints and Bills, and have decided to spread the Steelers out wide and attack through the air. They have just 11 rushing yards in the first half, but have put up 162 yards through the air.
- I can only remember Roethlisberger throwing in the direction of cornerback Chris Carr twice the entire game. The Steelers seem much more content to attack Josh Wilson (who has an interception) and Lardarius Webb. Carr is quietly developing into quite a solid cover corner, and it's getting to the point that teams have decided not to test him very often.
- On the Ravens' lone scoring drive, quarterback Joe Flacco was 6-of-6 for 103 yards. No, that's not a typo. Penalty yardage made that number possible. Still an impressive feat for Joe.
- The Steelers losing punter Daniel Sepulveda for the game with a knee injury is huge. Sepulveda's return was announced as "questionable", but place kicker Shaun Suisham was the one who was sent out to handle the punting duties when the Steelers needed to boot one away late in the half. Suisham looked good one his two punts (one was brought back due to a penalty), but if the Steelers don't have Sepulveda the rest of the way, that puts them at a big disadvantage.