So much for the days of 9-6 Steelers-Ravens games, huh?
Baltimore leads Pittsburgh 21-7 going into halftime as Joe Flacco and Ray Rice have staked the Ravens to a lead after 30 minutes of play
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first half of action:
* The Ravens’ new-look offensive line has been incredibly impressive despite not getting a single preseason snap together as a group. Bryant McKinnie has been a stud on the left side, and he opened a monster hole on Ray Rice’s 36-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. Marshal Yanda has looked great back in his old right guard spot, center Matt Birk doesn’t appear to have any lingering issues with his injured knee and Michael Oher looks very comfortable at his old right tackle spot. I barely recall seeing James Harrison or LaMarr Woodley get in the face of quarterback Joe Flacco. Were we concerned about this group for nothing?
* New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano has been rotating personnel a ton so far, using his full complement of defensive backs in various packages and mixing and matching his linebackers. Pagano has leaned heavily on rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee and outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who both have looked good.
* While Flacco has often looked rattled when facing the Steelers defense, the fourth-year quarterback looks very smooth today. Flacco has gone 11-of-18 for 162 yards and two touchdowns so far, and he’s looked composed and confident going through his progressions. (The clean pocket he’s gotten has been a big plus.) Flacco’s read on the touchdown pass to Rice was excellent - he found a huge mismatch with Rice on Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons, looked downfield, then checked the ball down to his running back, who juked Timmons out and got the score.
* What can you say about Rice? The Ravens’ running back has 127 total yards (89 on the ground) and two touchdowns through 30 minutes. Pittsburgh’s offense, as a whole, has 113 total yards and one touchdown.
* One more note on Pagano: He has this defense playing with the swagger that it’s known for. These guys love playing for the new defensive coordinator, and his aggressive style suits them to a “T.”