Steelers notebook: Redman suffers concussion
Running back Isaac Redman, who missed games with an ankle injury, was knocked out of the Steelers' game Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens in the second quarter with a concussion.
Redman, who had only one carry for 5 yards, is the second Steelers player in two weeks to suffer a concussion. Safety Ryan Clark incurred one against Kansas City last Monday, but he wore a specially designed, oversized helmet for protection.
Also, defensive end Ziggy Hood sustained an injured back early in the second quarter and was replaced by last year's No. 1 draft pick, Cam Heyward. Safety Will Allen, who has started the past five games for Troy Polamalu, injured his right shoulder in the first quarter. Allen was replaced by Ryan Mundy, but returned in the second quarter.
With Redman out, the Steelers were down to two healthy running backs — Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer.
Leftwich on the run
Quarterback Byron Leftwich earlier this week said: “I can't do some of the things Ben (Roethlisberger) does. I can't run, and I'm not fast.”
But Leftwich stunned the Ravens with a surprising 31-yard touchdown run in the first quarter as he out-sprinted the Ravens down the right sideline. Leftwich, who appeared to hurt his arm after rolling into the end zone, outwitted the Ravens, too.
Baltimore strong safety Bernard Pollard appeared to have Leftwich lined up along the sideline. But Leftwich sliced between Pollard and cornerback Corey Graham to put the Steelers up, 7-0, just 43 seconds into the game.
Not so special
The Steelers' special teams struggled early in the season, mostly with an array of holding penalties that wiped out long returns by Antonio Brown and Chris Rainey. The kick coverage teams had played well for much of the season until Sunday night.
No one laid a glove on Jacoby Jones, who returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown to put Baltimore up, 10-7, late in the first quarter. Then, on the ensuing kickoff, Rainey was stopped at the Steelers' 12, enabling the Ravens to seize control of the field-position battle.
Steelers' offense stalls on third down
The Steelers, who lead the league in third-down conversions (49.6 percent), were only 1 of 8 (13 percent) in the first half. Leftwich's only third-down completion for a first down was an 11-yard pass to receiver Jerricho Cotchery in the final minute of the half.
The Steelers got off to a better start in the third quarter when Leftwich completed a 27-yard pass to Emmanuel Sanders at the Baltimore 40. But Graham intercepted Leftwich's next third-down throw.
Kruger a nightmare for Adams
If the Mike Adams-Paul Kruger matchup had been a heavyweight fight, the officials would have stopped the bout in the first quarter. Kruger, having perhaps his best season for the Ravens, had his way with the Steelers' rookie offensive tackle.
Kruger, an outside linebacker playing mostly at the end, beat Adams by using a swim move to sack Leftwich. Then, on the Steelers next possession, Kruger rushed past Adams to flush Leftwich out of the pocket, and he got a hand on Leftwich's throwing arm to force an incompletion.
Adams struggled in the run game, too. On third-and-1 with 4:45 left in the first quarter, defensive tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu overpowered Adams at the line of scrimmage to hold Jonathan Dwyer inches shy of the first-down marker.
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7923.