Surprisingly, it was the defense.
Ben Roethelisberger escaped more sacks than he actually took. The Ravens took out the Steelers’ back-up running back, but ultimately lost on a long pass-and-run to Mewelde Moore.
And for all of the blitzes and well defended drives, the Ravens didn’t force the turnovers that led to touchdowns or field goals.
Yes. It’s blasephemy to blame the defense for anything in Charm City. But the bottom line is that rookie Joe Flacco exceeded expectations for that caliber of contest. His first road game, in Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football? The stage was set for a failure of epic proportions.
And yet, it was his play that kept the Ravens close offensively.
Does he still hold on to the ball to long? Absolutely. That’s what rookies do. What rookies don’t usually do is take a big hit, and come back to throw strikes for firsts downs, which is exactly what Jump-Off Joe did last night, and will continue to do throughout the season.
In time, he’ll learn that a check down is a QBs best friend, and he’ll learn which sides of the line are prone to collapse in moments of pressure.
But nothing can teach the importance of wrapping up on tackles, which is what ultimately did the Birds in.
There’s no reason to think that the Ravens make amends for this loss later on in the season, but 3-0 would’ve been a lot better than 2-1 when its a two-team race for the division.