Report card

Steelers 27, Ravens 10

January 21, 2002|By Mike Preston

Quarterback F

Elvis Grbac was rattled early and lost his poise. He had a quarterback rating of 26.1. He threw three interceptions and easily could have thrown four more, including two that were dropped and could have been returned for easy touchdowns. Against tough defenses, he doesn't step up.

Offensive line F

The Ravens allowed only three sacks, but Grbac took more pounding than an old Muhammad Ali punching bag. Right tackle Kipp Vickers can play numerous positions, but he is nothing more than a stopgap measure at any of them. Guards Edwin Mulitalo and Bennie Anderson had problems all day.

Running backs F

Terry Allen and Jason Brookins can't give that offensive line much love, either. The Ravens had only 22 yards rushing on 11 carries. The Steelers' defenders were getting to the handoffs nearly as quickly as the Ravens were. The running backs looked as though they were searching for gophers because they kept dropping their heads on pass protection while Grbac was getting hurried.

Receivers F

Qadry Ismail played well through the first three quarters of the season, but he returned to his normal catch-one, drop-one self down the stretch. He dropped three yesterday. Not to be outdone, fellow wide receiver Travis Taylor dropped two. Rookie tight end Todd Heap didn't want to feel left out, so he dropped one inside the Pittsburgh 5. Fortunately for the Ravens, tight end Shannon Sharpe showed up.

Defensive line C

Tackles Tony Siragusa, Sam Adams and Larry Webster were outstanding, as they manhandled Pittsburgh guards Alan Faneca and Rich Tylski. It was Siragusa's last game, but he hustled all over the field, even running down middle screen plays. But Pittsburgh was able to handle the defensive ends, and that was a problem all year for the Ravens.

Linebackers C

The Steelers were smart. They stayed outside and off-tackle, not only to stay away from Adams and Siragusa, but middle linebacker Ray Lewis as well. Lewis finished with 10 tackles. The Ravens also got another strong effort from weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper, who had 12 tackles. Strong-side linebacker Brad Jackson (three tackles) needs to become more of a factor in stopping the run.

Secondary C

Cornerback Chris McAlister and safety Rod Woodson seemed to have communication problems in zone coverage, and it's apparent that Woodson has lost another step or two. Pittsburgh didn't work a lot of deep stuff, staying with the safer, short patterns.

Special teams D

Returner Jermaine Lewis has a history of burning the Steelers, and he returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown. But the punting team was atrocious, first on the snaps, then on some erratic kicking by Kyle Richardson. The Steelers also averaged 24 yards on three kickoff returns.

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