On the Steelers' first drive, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was smacked in the face by Ravens defensive end Haloti Ngata. In the broadcast booth, Cris Collinsworth even took the opportunity to outline Roethlisberger's newly bent, seriously bloody nose on the screen. If you're keen on symbolism, you could see this as emblematic of Pittsburgh's first half performance - in a word, ugly.
For one, the offensive line has had no answer for Ngata, more often than not. (Sidenote: Anyone else weirded out by how much every broadcaster seems to enunciate this dude's name?) Terrell Suggs has also been a terror, abusing Pittsburgh's tackles and recording 1.5 sacks in one half of football.
By contrast, it feels like Pittsburgh's pass rush has been a no-show, even though they've also recorded two sacks. After a 61-yard bomb from Joe Flacco to Anquan Boldin, the Baltimore quarterback quickly reunited with the receiver for a 14-yard score. On the play, the Ravens simply abused Pittsburgh up front; Flacco had over seven seconds - an eternity in the NFL - to find a hole in the Steelers coverage.
Later, Flacco completed a 67-yarder to burner Donte Stallworth, who absolutely burned Bryant McFadden. The Pittsburgh cornerback is having one of his worst games in recent memory. By contrast, outsider linebacker James Harrison continues to be a monster; he's been all over the field, blowing up plays and drawing penalties, as per his usual.
Roethlisberger's performance has been spotty at best. He's completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 4.8 ypa and chucked an excrutiating, drive-killing interception into triple coverage. For some reason, both Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown were in the same area, so the turnover could've been due to some misstep by one of the young receivers. Their mentor, Hines Ward, didn't help things by dropping a 3rd-down pass that would've almost ensured a scoring drive for Pittsburgh.
Thanks to some timely penalties by the Ravens, the Steelers are really fortunate to trail by just one touchdown. Pittsburgh will receive after half time.