Gilligan / USA TODAY Sports Images

Top draft picks allow biggest plays in Steelers' 21-14 loss to Ravens

The veterans also played big roles in ugly Steelers loss.

BALTIMORE - Pittsburgh Steelers rookie cornerback Artie Burns learned an important and costly lesson on Sunday.

Don’t leave your feet unless you’re sure you’re going to get your hands on the ball.

Burns was beaten for a 95-yard touchdown off a simple slant by speedster Mike Wallace because he left his feet in an attempt at his second interception in the Steelers' 21-14 loss.

“I tried to get the pick, but (Joe) Flacco made a good throw and he made the catch and was off,” said Burns. “I was pretty close, but not close enough.”

The touchdown was the only one scored on offense for the Ravens in the game. Baltimore’s next longest drive was 47 yards.

“It was missed opportunities. I can only speak for the defense, but there were some plays we could have got back,” said Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward. “Obviously, the 95-yard throw killed us. Hopefully, we’ll learn from that. I thought our performance against the run was better. It can’t be something each week.”

Indeed it can’t. The Steelers defense did play better against the Ravens on Sunday than it had the previous two games when they allowed over 300 rushing yards in losses to Miami and New England. The Ravens managed just 50 yards on 29 carries. And Flacco’s other 17 completions went for 146 yards as the Ravens struggled to 13 first downs in the game.

But that one play ...

Burns wasn’t alone in blowing that one. Safety Mike Mitchell had a shot at Wallace after the catch but was stiff-armed off the tackle and then lost a foot race down the sideline.

“I have to tackle him,” said Mitchell.

Then again, perhaps asking a rookie to cover the speedy Wallace one-on-one might not always be such a good idea.

“Just press man-to-man,” said Wallace of the coverage. “It’s disrespectful. I’m a guy, who, I feel like if you press me, you’re going to lose 90 percent of the time, maybe 95.”

The Steelers played more press-man coverage in this game because they wanted to blitz Flacco more. That worked to a large extent, except for that one play.

@ Unfortunately for the Steelers, their offense was again non-existent for long stretches on the road.

Under offensive coordinator Todd Haley, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger entered Sunday’s game with a 12-13 record, 32 touchdown passes and 25 interceptions. At home with Haley directing the offense, Roethlisberger has 65 TDs, 20 interceptions and a 20-7 record.

That wasn’t helped at all by Sunday’s effort.

Roethlisberger was 8-18 for 54 yards and an interception entering the fourth quarter. He finished 23 of 45 for 264 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for a score.

@ It won’t be talked about much considering what transpired before it happened, but Sammie Coates’ drop with 4:09 remaining in the game was huge.

The Steelers trailed 21-7 at the time and Coates inexplicably got behind two Baltimore defenders. But the ball clanged off his hands for an incompletion from the 27. Six plays later, Roethlisberger threw incomplete in the end zone again to turn the ball over on downs with 3:09 remaining.

If Coates makes that catch, the Steelers pull within 21-14 - or 21-15 if Mike Tomlin goes for a two-point conversion - and the pressure is squarely on a Baltimore offense that barely outplayed an inept Pittsburgh offense in this game.

@ I would have gone for two in that situation just to make sure the Ravens felt that pressure.

There’s not much difference being down seven or eight, but being up only six with Roethlisberger heating up would have made the Ravens press.

@ Coates didn’t make the catch, so it doesn’t matter.

@Darrius Heyward-Bey has what looks to be a significant foot injury, while Maurkice Pouncey had a dislocated thumb.

Those are the two major injuries for the Steelers, and reserve safety Jordan Dangerfield also suffered a groin injury.

@ The Steelers stuck with an ineffective running attack for too long in this game, but Tomlin pointed to the score entering the fourth quarter, 13-0, as the reason.

“We just weren’t interested in getting one-dimensional,” Tomlin said. “We still had time.”

Until the Ravens blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.

“I told (special teams coach) Jerry (Roseburg), 'He keeps leaving me,’” said running back Buck Allen, who blocked the kick. “I knew I could get a block on him.”

"Him," in this case, was rookie safety Sean Davis, who just jumped to the outside and allowed Allen to go at punter Jordan Berry unblocked.

See, and you thought Burns was the rookie who had a tough day.

(To read SCI publisher Jim Wexell's thoughts on the game, go to the South Side message board.)


Steel City Insider Top Stories