Monday, September 29, 2008

Ravens vs Steelers: Round 25


Tonight, Monday Night Football featured the 25th regular season meeting between two of the most physical teams in the NFL. For all of you out there who appreciate good solid defense, great play between the tackles, and tough rugged running where both teams earn every yard, THIS, was smash mouth football at its finest!!

Call me biased, but this has to be the best Monday Night Football game of the year so far. Sure everyone sees the points in Eagles/Cowboys, but here you had the two better defenses in the league matching each other blow for blow. It was like a heavyweight fight! With every strike the Ravens made, the Steelers struck back.

This wasn't the case in the first half. In fact, the Steelers looked like a team on its way to a 4-12 season. Big Ben was lost, the running game was nowhere, and meanwhile Joe Flacco really impressed me. Flacco made some solid decisions, threw with pinpoint accuracy and actually led the Ravens down the field multiple times. In all, Flacco threw for 192 yards and a Touchdown. It looked grim for Pittsburgh, down 13-3 at the half.


Then it was time for Part TWO!! After a good pep talk by Mike Tomlin, the Steelers mached back into the lead, including 14 points in 15 seconds!!! The defense woke up and sprung to action like it was a fire drill. The Steelers started to pull away, ahead 20-13

Not so fast now! Afterward, the Ravens and Flacco advanced down the field to tie the game. Finally, the Steelers and Ravens traded posessions and the game ground to a stalemate.

In real life, that'd be the end of it, BUT THIS IS THE NFL!!! We have OOOOOOOOVER-TIME. And in overtime, the Ravens went 3 and out to give Pittsburgh a chance for the win. The key play of the drive was a 20+ yard reception by Mewelde Moore. The rest was clockwork. After hitting 4th down, Jeff Reed nailed a 46 yard Field Goal to win it for the Steelers! What a game!

Final thoughts: This game really showed a lot of mettle for both teams. First, it was Baltimore, proving that they aren't the 3 yards and a cloud of dust they used to be. Was it just me or did Flacco make great decisions? He threw the ball away when he had nothing, tossed the ball like it knew where it was going, and didn't throw an interception all night. The runinng game was rather effective even without McGahee for the Second Half.

Next it was Pittsburgh, stepping up their defense to lock down the Ravens in the 3rd quarter. DBs went after Joe Flacco like he had the Wonka golden ticket! Next, the Steelers switched to a no-huddle offense which worked very well. It worked because it crossed up the Ravens defensive play calls. There's no way you can run this all the time, but the moment suited the task.

The difference, as I alluded to earlier, between this and Philly/Dallas was this: the defenses for both teams were very focused tonight. It shows that both the Ravens and Steelers are capable of making a big Super Bowl run, and how! Offensively, both teams wound up doing about as well as they could facing each other. In all, I was impressed. There also happened to be very few unforced turnovers, by my count only one total.

Clean, smart football will always curry favor with me, so thank goodness MNF didn't disappoint. BRING ON ROUND 26!!! DING!

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