Breaking down the tape: An abrupt halt

A look back at the Steelers' 20-17 loss to the Ravens via the magic of the DVR:


Check out the highlight photos from the Steelers vs Ravens game. The Ravens defeated the Steelers 20-17 on December 27th 2015.

ABRUPT HALT:** RBs DeAngelo Williams and Fitz Toussaint carried a combined five times for 52 yards, including a 30-yard scamper by Williams, to open the Steelers' first possession.

But on third-and-4 from the Baltimore 28-yard line things changed.

The Steelers go with a three-tight ends, two-wide receivers empty set. QB Ben Roethlisberger throws for TE Jesse James, who had lined up in a bunch-right with fellow TEs heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, at the line of scrimmage. But Miller isn't able to get a clean block on SS Will Hill III, who holds up James until help arrives. LB Daryl Smith, after being blocked by Spaeth, LB C.J. Mosley and CB Shareece Wright all converge on the ball and Smith prevents James from falling forward for the yard he needed to move the chains.

On fourth-and-1 from the Baltimore 25 the Steelers gambled and lost.

With Spaeth and Miller lined up to the right and wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown lined up wide left, Roethlisberger accepts the snap from under center and feeds Williams.

The Ravens have nine defenders in the box and 10 within 5 yards of the ball, get penetration and are able to re-establish the line of scrimmage a yard further up the field as LG Ramon Foster pulls to his right and falls down before Williams accepts Roethlisberger's handoff. LB Courtney Upshaw and Smith met Williams at the 26, 2 yards shy of the sticks.

LT Alejandro Villanueva, C Cody Wallace, RG David DeCastro, RT Marcus Gilbert, Miller and Spaeth also end up on the ground on the play.

And just like that a once-promising drive fizzled.

To the Steelers' regret, it wouldn't be the last time.


OVER THE COVERAGE, OR NOT:** Two pass plays, one from each offense, highlighted the disparity in execution that helped propel the Ravens to their upset victory.

Third-and-goal, Pittsburgh 8, first quarter: The Steelers rush three and drop eight into coverage against a set that includes four wide receivers and fullback Kyle Juszczyk. WR Chris Matthews breaks cleanly to the post from his slot-right position and gets behind LB Lawrence Timmons and FS Mike Mitchell. QB Ryan Mallett looks left initially, perhaps to influence Mitchell, who freezes momentarily. Mallett then spots Matthews and delivers the ball over a leaping Timmons and a leaping Mitchell. Matthews goes up for it in the back of the end zone and comes down with two feet inside the end line and holds onto the ball after hitting the deck.

First-and-10, Pittsburgh 37, second quarter: Roethlisberger, throwing out of a three-wide receivers set that also includes Miller and Williams, tries to hit Brown over the middle at the Ravens' 42, between Smith and FS Kendrick Lewis. But Roethlisberger doesn't get the ball over Smith, who makes a leaping interception in front of Brown at the 44.

Williams was wide open coming out of the backfield at the Steelers' 37.

Roethlisberger maintained he made the right read but not the proper throw.

"I have 'A.B.' down the middle and you never throw a ball down the middle short," Roethlisberger said. "I gave (Smith) a couple inches and he makes the play."

Those were inches Mallett never gave the Steelers.


Game action as the Steelers traveled to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Ravens in Week 16.

WINNING ONE-ON-ONE:** The Steelers' lone sack of Mallett occurred on second-and-5 from the Steelers' 49 early in the third quarter.

It resulted from CB Brandon Boykin beating RB Javorius Allen.

The Steelers rush four on the play including Boykin from the slot on the right side of the defense (LB Bud Dupree drops into coverage on the other side of the formation; LB Jarvis Jones and DE Cam Heyward and DE Stephon Tuitt rush with Boykin). The Ravens send four eligible receivers into patterns but keep Allen in to help protect. But Allen is no match for Boykin, who pushes Allen away with one hand and leads with the other while lunging at Mallett from Mallett's blind side.

Boykin, Allen and Mallett wind up in a pile at the Ravens' 40.

It was the type of one-on-one battle the Steelers didn't win often enough.

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