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Tim Benz: An airing of grievances despite Steelers’ 4th straight win

November 30, 2018

“The Steelers just beat the Ravens in Baltimore, 23-16, to win a fourth straight game! There can’t possibly be anything to complain about.”

Oh. I assume you are new here.

Welcome to my weekly “Airing of Grievances.” I gave PLENTY of kudos in our feats of strength for what was a huge Steelers win in the AFC North.

But if I didn’t have some things to complain about, I wouldn’t be me. And if you didn’t voice many of these complaints yourselves during the game -- which you did (check my Twitter timeline) -- you wouldn’t be you.

In victory, consider this a safe space to vent.

•••

Bad Boz is back

Chris Boswell had gone two games without a missed kick. The hope was that he had gotten back on track.

So much for that.

The Steelers kicker missed another extra point. That’s his fourth of the year.

This has to stop happening. Now.

•••

The pass rush

The Steelers pass rush was effective. It created a lot of pressure. But only two sacks.

I feel like we keep saying that.

Joe Flacco was dropped just twice in 37 dropbacks. The Steelers were disruptive and around him all day. But finishing a few plays and getting the occasional negative result for the opposing offense would be nice.

Over the last three games, the Steelers have seven sacks in 116 attempts by opposing quarterbacks.

•••

Drops

I love Vance McDonald when he stiff-arms people as much as the next guy. But the tight end has to catch the ball first in order to do that.

He dropped one ball. He also had another taken away from him by Tavon Young on a play that was initially ruled a turnover -- and a touchdown -- for the Ravens on the final drive of the second quarter.

More on that in a minute.

JuJu Smith-Schuster had a key second-quarter drop that could’ve gone for a touchdown. If it didn’t, it might have lead to at least another score later in the drive.

And James Washington couldn’t come up with a low throw from Ben Roethlisberger. It wasn’t a great toss. But if Washington wants to win over Ben Roethlisberger, he’s going to need to come up with plays like that.

•••

The officials

This is a weekly inclusion.

The initial call of a turnover on that McDonald play referenced above was atrocious. It was a dreadful miss. For those who say replay should be abolished, that’s why it can’t be. Because those brutal calls that need to be overturned still need a mechanism in place to right the wrong.

Also, Craig Wrolstad’s crew needs to figure out what pass interference is. I don’t have a problem with any of the pass interference calls that were thrown against the Steelers in that game.

But I do when you compare them to calls that weren’t made against the Ravens’ defense. The Steelers’ defenders were called for everything. The Ravens’ defenders were called for very little.

That’s in line with the reputation of Wrolstad’s crew. Credit my WDVE pregame co-host, Dale Lolley, for catching this one. Entering kickoff, the refs you saw yesterday had called only 38 penalties against the home team this year, but 69 against the road team.

Sunday, the visiting Steelers were flagged eight times. The homestanding Ravens, five. It was 8-3 until Baltimore’s final garbage-time possession.

•••

The first and last drives of the first half

Speaking of the drive that started with the McDonald-Young play, what a mess that was for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger started at his own 15-yard line with only 49 seconds left to play in the half. If they didn’t take a knee into the locker room, I would’ve expected the Steelers to play it conservatively and be content with taking a 14-6 road lead into halftime.

Instead, they threw and nearly got scored on when the McDonald overturned play was called a turnover on the field. There was a second tipped pass that almost resulted in an interception. Plus, there was another misfired pass to McDonald.

Meanwhile, the first offensive drive of the game was going well. At first, James Conner ripped off 38 yards on three carries to begin the game. Then, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner decided to get cute with a tight end screen to McDonald that blew up. Up next was a deep ball that missed on second down, and a run on third-and-10 from Baltimore’s 42.

All that resulted in a Ben Roethlisberger pooch punt which didn’t net as many yards as the Steelers hoped.

A lot of the stuff in between those drives before halftime, and in the second half, was pretty good, though.

Wasn’t it?

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