Two Goods and a Bad: Steelers Win Overshadowed by Their Loss

The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed perfect, but it came with a price.
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PITTSBURGH -- It was by no means pretty. In fact, it was flat out ugly. But the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 11-0 with a 19-14 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

In a game that should've been played a week ago, and maybe shouldn't have been played at all, the Steelers prevailed.

From the jump, they looked like a team boggled by three postponements. The offense was slow, the defense put themselves in holes, and against a team filled with backups, it was a lot closer than it should've been.

So, here we are. The Steelers are still unbeaten, their place in the AFC remains untouched and we're ready to play 'Two Goods and a Bad' - reversed.

I know what you're saying, "How is there any good in a game like this?" Well, there somewhat is. Maybe it wasn't Ben Roethlisberger throwing for 300-plus yards without practice or Terrell Edmunds finding two interceptions, but a positive came from Pittsburgh's win - kind of.

And here it is.

Good (Kind Of) - Steelers Defense

An offense with a backup quarterback, plenty of missing linemen, no tight end and two missing running backs isn't much of a challenge for one of the NFL's best defenses. Still, when a unit plays this well, it needs to be acknowledged.

Even a great outing from the defense - for the most part - was snuffed with a negative, though. Outside linebacker Bud Dupree left in the fourth quarter with a knee injury that didn't look promising.

Dupree ranked fifth in the NFL in sacks heading into Week 12. His chemistry with T.J. Watt and the defensive line was unmatched. Really, much of the success of another defensive lineman in Pittsburgh has some credit to do with Dupree pushing the pocket away from the blindside. 

Dupree's season is over with a torn ACL, and because of that, it vastly overshadows the only positive (outside of a win) that comes from this game.

Now, it's time to see how Alex Highsmith fits with the defense. The limited exposure he's had this season shows promise, and many believe he's the successor of Dupree either way. 

His time to step into the role came sooner than hoped, but this is where the Steelers are. 

Bad - Steelers Passing Game

This is the vaguest 'Two Goods and a Bad' yet, but it needs to be. The Steelers offense was tough to watch on Wednesday.

"Not a lot here tonight to be proud of." Tomlin said after the game. And he was spot on.

The Steelers' offense didn't score until the fourth quarter when they went 12 plays and 61 yards before capping it off with a JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown.

Pittsburgh's receivers might have dropped as many balls as they caught. Outside of Smith-Schuster, who finished with eight catches, it felt like everyone's hands were still catching up from a few days off.

At the same time, Ben Roethlisberger threw a lot of passes behind his targets. Some were on point, especially his fourth-quarter tear drop to James Washington, but many were not.

"This is a mental game, and this has been a mentally challenging and draining week," Roethlisberger said after the game. "But at the end of the day, we need to step on the football field and play good football when it's time."

It was a lot of rust. This offense as a whole needed time to adjust and never got their handle on the game. Will that change with a somewhat normal week of practice before Monday? Hopefully.

Bad - Ray-Ray McCloud's Awareness

Someone, please teach Ray-Ray McCloud when and when not to call a fair catch. If this wasn't the beat-up Ravens, muffing a punt inside the 20-yard line would cost a lot more than the only touchdown of the game.

This is a weekly thing. McCloud is as electrifying as any player on the field at all times, but waiting to see how he handles receiving a punt is more suspenseful than, well, let your mind come up with something drastic enough.

If the flashy No. 14 can become more aware of his surroundings before the ball is in his hands, he's the perfect return man. Heck, he took a job Diontae Johnson took from Ryan Switzer. And that's saying something in Pittsburgh.

Mistakes fielding punts will cost the Steelers later in the season. It's not high on their fix list, but it should be a growing concern. 

Noah Strackbein is a Publisher with AllSteelers. Follow Noah on Twitter @NoahStrack, and AllSteelers @si_steelers.