Steelers Beat Ravens 17-10; Await Playoff Fate

TJ Watt leads the linebacker huddle. Image Credit: Vince Butts/UMT.

By Ray Porter Jr.

BALTIMORE, MD-The Pittsburgh Steelers did their part. They were fully aware that they needed to beat the AFC’s #1 Seeded Baltimore Ravens to keep their 2023 playoff hopes alive. And although they have had their challenges against backup QBs, they also knew that they would have to stop Ravens QB Tyler Huntley, not NFL MVP Candidate Lamar Jackson, as he was rested for this game.

The Steelers understood their assignment and fulfilled it with a 17-10 win over the Ravens in inclement weather at M&T Bank Stadium.

“I’m just really appreciative of the effort of the guys. Obviously, this is a tough place to play. That’s probably three or four years in a row right there that we’ve been able to come up here and get it done. We’re thankful for that, for the efforts,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “It was a tough environment today from a climate perspective. The ball security component was a challenge, but it was a challenge for both teams. I thought it was significant in terms of how the game unfolded, particularly in the first half for us.”

QB Mason Rudolph got his third start for the Steelers and produced another solid performance as he led the Steelers on three scoring drives, two which resulted in touchdowns. The first one on a 12-play, 76 yards drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by RB Najee Harris, would not only finish with a game-leading 112 rushing yards, but he would also eclipse 1,000 yards for the third-straight season. (As a team, the Steelers would finish with 155 yards rushing on 36 carries).

“[Najee] has a certain demeanor and play style that we covet and value,” said Tomlin. “That’s why we went to Tuscaloosa to get him. Today was an example of that.”

The Steelers second touchdown would come in the Fourth Quarter as Rudolph would find WR Diontae Johnson for a 71-yard TD, which broke a 7-7 tie. Johnson would finish the game catching six passes for 89 yards. K Chris Boswell added the final points on a 25-yard Field Goal.

“Like I mentioned several weeks ago when we put him in the lineup, he has an unshakeable confidence in himself. It is real,” Tomlin commented about Rudolph.

The Steelers’ defense put in an impressive performance against Huntley and the Ravens’ Offense as they held leading rusher Gus Edwards to 48 yards and forced/recovered a fumble. They also recovered a fumble from RB Melvin Gordon III (40 yards). They also sacked Huntley 4 times (2 by LB TJ Watt-who would finish the game with an NFL-Leading 19 sacks, one by fellow LB’s Markus Golden and Mark Robinson); Watt would also cause concern as he left the game in the third quarter on a knee injury after colliding with his teammate.

“I can’t say enough about Eric Rowe on another elevation. [He] made a significant play on that punch-out. His efforts and Myles Jack’s efforts solidified us in some positions where we were really low on manpower,” Tomlin said. “Those two guys have been significant not only today but over the last three weeks in terms of what we’ve done.”

Regarding Watt, Tomlin said, “T.J. [Watt] is being evaluated with a knee injury. I’ll have more information probably the next time we get together. Obviously, [we’re] disappointed in that. But there are challenges in the game of football. There are challenges in life. We’ll deal with it, whatever it may be.”

The Ravens lone touchdown came on a 27-yard pass from Huntley to WR Isaiah Likely. K Justin Tucker added the Ravens final points on a 36-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter.

With the win, the Steelers finish the regular season 10-7 (the tenth 10-win season by Tomlin) and will now need a loss by either the Buffalo Bills (10-6) or the Jacksonville Jaguars (9-7) to advance to the playoffs for the first time since the 2021 season.

“We really focused on what we needed to do today. There’s a sense of accomplishment regarding that. We’ll see about all that other stuff,” said Tomlin.

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