Steelers Ground the Ravens 28 -24
[Baltimore, MD] In 1978, the Pittsburgh Steelers started the season 7-0. They had Hall of Famers Quarterback Terry Bradshaw, who won the NFL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award (The only Steeler to win it), Running back Franco Harris, Wide Receivers Lynn Swann and John Stallworth and a menacing Steel Curtain defense lead by Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and Donnie Shell. That team went on to finish 14-2 and winning Super Bowl 13.
Well, that ’78 team now has company as the 2020 Steelers team have also improved to 7-0 after beating the Baltimore Ravens 28-24 at M&T Bank Stadium. With 5 seconds left, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson’s pass was knocked down in the end zone by Steelers Cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick, securing the victory and the Steelers unbeaten streak. The remain the NFL’s only undefeated team.
“I am going to tell you what I told my team. We did not play well today.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “We lacked detail in a lot of areas. When you play good people, you are going to be up against it when you don’t play good. We can’t allow the emotions of the moment for us to miss that fact. I am proud of these guys. I am proud of the fight. I am proud of how they supported one another.”
In a heavyweight slugfest that was comparable to past Steelers-Ravens matchups, the game had 4 lead changes and the Steelers had to overcome 17-7 and 24-17 deficits and a dominant Ravens attack that ran for a collective 265 yards and a TD (Rookie JK Dobbins led with 113 yards) in the absence of starter Mark Ingram who was injured.
“I give them credit, particularly in the early stages of the game.” Said Tomlin about the Ravens. “They utilized their bye week well. They threw some things at us that we had to adjust to.”
But the Steelers defense did make Jackson miserable as they sacked him 4 times (Defensive End Stephen Tuitt led with 2) and intercepted him twice. The first pickoff was by Linebacker Robert Spillane who returned it 33 yards for the TD. It was Spillane’s first-career interception. The second one came from rookie LB Alex Highsmith which led to the Steelers 1st offensive TD.
After struggling in the first half and losing 17-7, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger took the 3rd quarter like a violin and orchestrated a 14-point comeback that gave the Steelers a 21-17 lead. Big Ben would find Tight end Eric Ebron (4 receptions, 48 yards) for an 18-yard score and then on the next drive, he led the Steelers on 10 plays and 77 yards which ended with a 1-yard TD run by RB James Conner (15 carries 47 yards, TD)
“We adjusted; we didn’t blink. I just can’t say enough about how proud I am of the guys in terms of their mental toughness. The way they supported one another, the way that they didn’t fall apart in the midst of some things that were going on. I think that is as critical as anything.”-Said Tomlin.
With the Ravens trailing 24-17 in the 4th quarter, Big Ben led the Steelers on an 8 play, 80-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard TD pass to rookie Chase Claypool (5 receptions, 42 yards, TD) Big Ben finished the game passing for 182 yards and 2 TDs. There was concern about his surgically-repaired shoulder late in the first half, but he showed that he was fine.
But it was the Steelers defense that had the slam the door on the Ravens and it took 2 huge 4th quarter plays to do it. With over 1 minute the play, Jackson had the Ravens ready to take the lead and was staring at a 4th and 2. But when Jackson attemped to run up the middle for those 2 yards, he was met by the Steelers defense who not only stopped him short of the marker, but also fumbled the ball.
And then on the final drive with seconds left and no timeouts, Jackson showed why he was the 2019 NFL MVP as he led the Ravens on another drive deep in Steelers territory. And as they hoped for a dramatic game-winning TD, Jackson attempted a pass to WR Willie Snead IV (5 catches, 106 yards) but Ftizpatrick ended the drama as he batted the pass while colliding with Snead IV to secure the victory.
Jackson finished the game passing for 208 yards, 2 TDs (to WRs Miles Boykin and Maurkise Brown) and the 2 interceptions. For the Steelers, WR Juju Smith-Shuster led the team with 7 receptions and 68 yards.
With the win, the Steelers have won their first game in Baltimore since the 2018 season and have a chance to complete a season sweep of the Ravens for the first time since 2017. But the Steelers are certainly not thinking that far as they now have the Dallas Cowboys (the team that they beat in Super Bowl 13) at AT &T Stadium.
“It is good today, but it means nothing for tomorrow.” Said Tomlin. “The total mentality of it is, regardless of these experiences, we have to continue to be a group. And understand that the bigger challenges and the bigger opportunities are in front of us.”
Notes: Both teams suffered injuries. DE Cam Heyward left the game late in the 4th quarter with a knee injury, Defensive tackle Tyson Alualu also suffered a knee injury and left the game early in the 1st quarter. For the Ravens, Left Tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ankle injury and Right guard Tyre Phillips has an ankle injury. Ravens LB Matthew Judon was ejected for striking an official in the first half.