Lessons Learned: So They Were Short-Handed. So What?

Five Lessons Learned from the Ravens’ 20-17 win over the Steelers.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Monday, November 30th, 2009 at 3:40 am | Categories: 2009 Gameday, Sarah Ellison

The Steelers were Roethlisberger-less and Polamalu-less. Nobody cares.

Okay, let’s get this conversation out of the way. Yes, the Ravens milked their opportunities. The Steelers were Ben Roethlisberger-less, and maybe he could have pulled off a fourth-quarter or overtime win.  And maybe Joe Flacco’s offense wouldn’t have amassed 393 yards and 20 points if safety Troy Polamalu was out there. But, guess what. The Ravens. Don’t. Care. And neither should you.

Third-string quarterback or not, this is the league’s most heated rivalry and the Steelers own the No. 1 defense in the land. Do you think the Steelers would be heartbroken if Joe Flacco and/or Ed Reed weren’t out there? If Pittsburgh beat the Ravens in that scenario, would they show any mercy? Would they be less enthused with a victory?  I doubt it. The Ravens are 6-5. The Steelers are 6-5. Bottom line. Enjoy it!

If the Ravens missed Fabian Washington, it didn’t show.

Lardarius Webb had an outstanding debut in his first career NFL start. Between his kickoff return duties and guarding receivers Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes, I was waiting for the rookie to run out of gas. Instead, it looked like he gained steam as the game continued. Webb’s stats were good (four returns for 85 yards, three tackles, three pass deflections), but they don’t accurately describe the influence he had on the game.  Tonight was one of those rare instances in the NFL where a backup makes a team forget, even for a moment, the sting of losing a starter.

Paul Kruger made a bid for more PT.

You never want a Pro Bowl-caliber player like Terrell Suggs to go down. But, similar to the case of Webb and Washington, Paul Kruger made the loss of Suggs OK for at least tonight. When you have quality outside linebackers/defensive ends in front of you – in addition to Suggs, Trevor Pryce, Dwan Edwards, Jarret Johnson – it’s tough to get playing time. Considering what those guys have done, I can understand why Kruger hasn’t gotten the playing time I’m sure he knows he deserves. One thing’s for sure, Kruger’s game-saving pick will make it harder for the Ravens to deactivate him again, even when Suggs is back.

I don’t know where this Chris Carr has been, but I’m glad he’s arrived.

By far Chris Carr’s best game of the season. Five punts returned for 71 yards, but his two longest returns were brought back due to penalties (one which probably wouldn’t have made a difference on the play). Carr has thrown up his arm to signal for a fair-catch time and time again. Tonight he had plenty of room to return punts, and in the second half especially, he started to run north-south. I hope we see more of this Chris Carr.

Billy Cundiff is money.

Billy Cundiff – what a breath of fresh air. His missed 56-yarder with time expiring in regulation will taint his stats, but the kick was on target. That distance is too much for just about any kicker in the league. But, talk about converting under pressure – kicking in overtime with the game on the line. It doesn’t get any more burdensome than that. Three points in pressure situations isn’t something the Ravens are used to this season. It was the difference between a 6-5 record and a 5-6 record. Huge.

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