Quick Yinzing: Steelers eliminated from playoffs after disappointing game against Ravens

“Quick Yinzing” is Steel City Underground’s post-game feature where there is no research, no extensive stats, all “Renegade” and reactions in recapping the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game performance.

Having written the post-game ‘Quick Yinzing’ articles after nearly every game during this 2019-20 NFL regular season about the performance of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I can honestly say that having to put out to Steelers Nation that the black and gold are eliminated from the playoffs for the second season in a row is a bitter pill. And while I’ve attempted to remain objective about a season that saw Pittsburgh struggle to overcome one form of adversity or another, their performance in the final game of the regular season in Baltimore against the Ravens was the final car in a train wreck coming to a grinding halt.

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Offensively, the Steelers just did not have much left in the way of creativity or skill to create much in the pouring rain. Devlin Hodges, who’s been in the fire for most of the season, looked like a rookie quarterback and did not get much assistance from his receivers. There were a couple of good plays, something this team could build off of. Diontae Johnson had the biggest game of the receivers.

In the ground game, Benny Snell showed a preview of what might be a very good rushing attack from Pittsburgh – next season. Snell worked with what the defense gave him and on one big offensive series of 75 yards, he blasted into the end zone for a four-yard touchdown after Hodges was able to hook up with Johnson to convert two big third downs. Snell also converted a third-and-one situation by rumbling for 19 yards and taking care of the football in that series.

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Defensively, one could argue that the Steelers did not prepare well, mentally, for stopping the Ravens’ ground game. Everyone in the NFL knows at this point what the Ravens offense is about. Even with Robert Griffin III in at quarterback for Lamar Jackson, the Steelers defense – including T.J. Watt – played with frustration more than focus. Griffin was able to emulate Jackson on several plays that required him to keep the ball and run with it. The Steelers were not able to do much to contain Gus Edwards or Justice Hill, either. The inability to force Griffin to pass in sloppy conditions allowed Baltimore to put together drives that ate of time of possession.

There will be an argument that by the third quarter, the Steelers defense was gassed. That likely has some real truth to it. With little offensive support, Pittsburgh was forced to ask a lot of their defense. There isn’t much room for excuses, however, for poor defense in the opening quarter of the game when playing for a playoff spot. Rain or dry, tackling was an issue. Containment was an issue. And the Steelers defense got bitten.

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Ultimately, this will be a game that illustrated pure frustration on the part of the Steelers. For every big play made by Pittsburgh, there were at least two-three that went against the Steelers. A poor decision by Jordan Berry on a bad punt snap, two intentional grounding penalties on Hodges (including one that resulted in a safety due to the fact that he ‘ground’ the ball as he was in his own end zone), an unnecessary shoulder to Griffin by Watt after the outside linebacker nearly tipped the pass, a missed tackle by Mark Barron – all of them glaringly negated the nice things that the Steelers were able to accomplish because they were costly.

This 2019 Steelers squad showed a lot of promise and some of its players stood out among some of the NFL’s best this season; that should be a “positive” that Pittsburgh builds on during the offseason. It’s unfortunate that they could not overcome adversity just one more time to eke their way into the playoffs but in some ways, it may end up helping this organization decide what their identity will be in the near future and put that into motion early to accomplish more in 2020.

Note: The Steelers could have still lost and gotten into the postseason but the Tennessee Titans were able to beat the Houston Texans simultaneously and the rest of the scenarios did not come to pass, either, that would have allowed Pittsburgh in.

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