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The Baltimore Ravens ended their season on a high note by beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-21. The game looked more like a preseason game as a lot of stars for both teams were out with injuries. The Steelers will be going to the playoffs to meet the Jacksonville Jaguars, who a couple of weeks, dominated the Steelers at Hines Field. Should be a good one. The Ravens will be going golfing and fishing for a new HC and OC. More on that subject later.
Troy Smith put on another solid performance Sunday against the Steelers. Showed off his poise and arm strength throughout the contest. He was 16/27 for 171 yards and a touchdown. Would've had better numbers if the receivers were able to catch the ball. T. Smith scrambled for 23 yards on 5 carries and surprised the Steelers defense with elusiveness and acceleration. He actually made some adjustments to his game in the second half. Troy had problems with throwing the ball on the move in first half and some of those throws were nearly intercepted because he wasn't clearing his left shoulder on those particular throws. In the second half, he straightened that up and had better accuracy. The rookie stopped eyeballing his receiver and went through his progressions which included a touchdown pass to Devard Darling. Troy Smith might have shown the Ravens enough potential for them to not draft a QB.
The running game of the Ravens was dominate throughout with the backups Musa Smith and Cory Ross combining to gain over 100 yards for the game. They were helped by the terrible tackling of the Steelers. Musa Smith scored the games first touchdown on the Ravens first possession on a two yard run. That possession was setup by the Ravens special teams, who forced a Willie Reid fumble which was recovered by Devard Darling. Musa Smith rushed for 83 yards on 22 attempts while Cory Ross rushed for 72 yards on 12 attempts. Ross looked explosive and elusive as evident by his 32-yard TD run which he broke the ankles of Anthony Smith. That's the same guy who guaranteed a Steelers victory over the Pats which didn't happen and he was subsequently benched the next game. With Musa Smith likely playing somewhere else next year, Ross could be the Ravens 3rd down back next season.
The Ravens defense played well. They played well until crunch time when the Steelers began to make their comeback with Charlie Batch at QB. Cory Ivy was called for pass interference on a deep pass to the endzone. On the very next play, Najeh Davenport ran in for a TD. That happened in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Santanio Holmes caught a pass for a touchdown after Derrick Martin missed the tackle. Then the Steelers recovered the onside kick and looked as though the Ravens were surpised by the onside kick. Aided by a roughing the passer penalty, the Steelers drived and scored on a slant to Cedric Wilson who beat David Pittman on the play. At the time, the Steelers scored 2 TDs in 3:37. The Ravens didn't do much on offense on their next possession and the Steelers got the ball back. Charlie Batch throws another interception to David Pittman and that sealed the game for a Ravens victory. It was his second INT of the game. The young CBs, Derrick Martin and David Pittman played really well before that point in the game. One of the two will not be back next season and maybe Cory Ivy, too.
On Monday, Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie Newsome fired Brian Billick after a lackluster season. The Genius never produced an above average offense as the HC of the Ravens. Under the watchful eye of the Genius, the Ravens offense never ranked higher than 13th in the league. Granted the Ravens never had a franchise QB at the position. That much you can't blame on the Genius. Also, there were a bunch of injuries that ravaged that position over the years, too. When healthy though, there wasn't much production on that side of the ball. Ironically, the Ravens defense has been one of the best during the Genius' tenure with the organization. Even having historic seasons on that side of the ball. With the Genius gone, the Ravens will be looking for a HC and/or an OC. Here is the current list of candidates:
I would not mind having the next coach of the Ravens be Josh McDaniels or Marty Schottenheimer. Josh McDaniels is my personal favorite. He's only 31 and is coordinating one of the best offenses in the NFL in New England. It also helps that his HC is Bill Belichick. Marty Schottenheimer has already been there and done that, with the exception of a SuperBowl win. He's winner and a tough guy that's honest, something the Ravens need. Marty allows his team coaching staff to coach and learn on the job, which creates some continuity among them and the players. I'm pulling for Josh McDaniels personally. Go Ravens!