Steelers Stun Ravens 16-13

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By Ray Porter Jr.

BALTIMORE, MD–When the Pittsburgh Steelers were 2-6, many media types basically wrote them off, saying that this team was ‘done,’ this was the worst team in head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure, and they wouldn’t win again. But as it has been with Tomlin-led teams, the Steelers would seem to get to their lowest point, and then bounce back on their feet.

Such was the case with their last two games: On Christmas Eve, they trailed the Las Vegas Raiders all game, only to score the winning TD with seconds left. This Sunday, history repeated themselves as they rallied from a 13-3 deficit to beat the Baltimore Ravens 16-13 in front of a stunned M & T Bank Stadium crowd and an NBC Sunday Night Football TV audience.

“[I’m] really proud of those guys in that locker room. Another challenging week, hostile environment, primetime television on the road, but those guys didn’t blink,” said Tomlin “We obviously fell short of perfection in areas, penalties and things. It’s an emotional game and an emotional environment.”

QB Kenny Pickett’s 10-yard TD pass to RB Najee Harris gave the Steelers their only TD of the game and the winning points with under a minute to play. And S Minkah Fitzpatrick’s 6th interception of the season sealed the victory, improving the Steelers’ record to 8-8 and remaining alive in the AFC playoff race with one game remaining in the regular season.

“I really thought we got a hold of ourselves at the half and had some real frank conversations and had the type of focus that was needed to finish the game out. For that, I’m thankful,” Tomlin said.

After K Chris Boswell’s FG gave them an early 3-0 lead, the Steelers would give up 10 points to the Ravens on a FG by K Justin Tucker and a 7-yard TD pass from QB Tyler Huntley (in his 4th game filling in for Lamar Jackson) to WR Isaiah Likely. But the Steelers continued to fight as they had one of their better rushing performances against the Ravens (198 total yards), but they could not get into the end zone.

In the 3rd quarter, both teams would add FGs, but in the 4th quarter, it was all Steelers: Their defense put the clamps on Huntley, as LB TJ Watt sacked Huntley, and they also held RB JK Dobbins to 93 yards (after rushing for 120 yards in their first game). Boswell would add another FG, and then on the final drive, Pickett lead the Steelers on an 11-play, 80 yard drive that ended with Pickett’s TD pass to Harris. A key play on that drive was an incredible 26-yard pass from Pickett to rookie WR Steven Sims.

“The play got extended. He moved to his left. Najee kept his eyes on him. Just two highly competitive guys finishing and making a play,” Tomlin relayed. “Much like last week, I just like the overall demeanor of the collective in those moments when it’s thick. Nobody is acting funny. You can drill it, but it’s just that it’s a drill. The reality of it is always a little bit different than the drill work.”

Pickett (15/27, 168 yards, TD) showed why he was the Steelers’ first-round pick this season as he was 5-6 for 64 yards on the winning drive: “I just think we benefited so much from proximity in the evaluation process. None of us are surprised by what he does from an intangible standpoint. In the proximity to him at Pitt really kind of gave us that comfort,” commented Tomlin.

Harris led all rushers with 111 yards, rookie Jaylen Warren added 76 for the Steelers. For the Ravens, Huntley would finish with 14/21 for 130 yards, a TD and an interception, while TE Mark Andrews had 9 catches for 100 yards.

The Steelers now need to beat the Cleveland Browns next week at Acrisure Stadium and hope that the Miami Dolphins and NY Jets lose for them to earn a spot in the playoffs. Many feel like it’s a slim opportunity, but then again, many felt that way when they were 2-6.

“That’s this game, particularly on this level. They’re going to be challenges. You’re going to be up against it. It’s not about what happens to you, it’s how you respond to it. We’re a group that stays solid despite circumstance. As long as we keep bringing that stay solid mentality, we know what’s in front of us,” said Tomlin.

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Image: Vince Butts/UMT