Tribusky’s 3 Picks lead to Steelers 16-14 loss to Ravens

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By Ray Porter Jr.

PITTSBURGH, PA–Fresh off their 19-16 win at Atlanta, the Pittsburgh Steelers were hoping to return home and face the Baltimore Ravens team that they have beaten in their last four matchups. After all, regardless of the record, Divisional Rival games can go either way, regardless of records or history, and of course, the Steelers desired to extend their winning streak to 3 games for the first time this season.

Unfortunately, the AFC North-leading Ravens had other ideas as they stunned the Steelers 16-14 in front of 66,326 at Acrisure Stadium.

“Man, a disappointing outcome, but really nothing mystical about it. We didn’t do the things necessary to secure victory,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin commented. “Particularly how these two teams come together and the nature of these match-ups, you know points are precious.”

But anyone who watched this game knew that it wasn’t what the Ravens did as much as what the Steelers didn’t do, which was not capitalizing on scoring opportunities. The Steelers went into the Red Zone four times and not only came away with 0 points, but they also turned the ball over three times and had a Chris Boswell FG attempt blocked. QB Mitch Tribusky, who replaced starter Kenny Pickett (concussion) was responsible for the 3 interceptions which hurt the Steelers in the long run, especially since the defense did all they could to not only hold the Ravens to 16 points, but to only 1 TD which RB JK Dobbins scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter.

“We turned the ball over when we were in scoring territory a couple of times, taking points off the board. We allowed a known legendary guy to block a kick,” said Tomlin. “He’s probably the leading kick blocker, active kick blocker in the NFL, just get in there in the gap and blocked the kick, and then obviously, we couldn’t get the needed stop at the weightiest moment on defense. You do those things, you don’t win. We understand that. We’re disappointed. Disappointment comes with that.”

But when you’re a team like the First-Place Ravens, it doesn’t matter how you get the win, just if you get the win. QB Tyler Huntley (8/12, 88 yards), filling in for starter Lamar Jackson, did just enough to keep his team from losing their game all season. Then when he got injured, 3rd stringer Anthony Brown (3/5, 16 yards) continued the game management to secure the victory.

But the strength of the Ravens’ offense was the running game as they ran for 215 yards against the Steelers. Dobbins who returned after missing several games due to injury, led all running backs with 120 yards (15 carries) and the team’s only TD. Backup Gus Edwards added 66 for the winning team. K Chris Tucker added 3 FGs.

When asked about the team’s struggles against the run, Tomlin replied “I just thought we wore down. The pile was falling forward.”

Tribusky (22/30, 276 yards, 9.2, TD, 3 INT) tried to be more aggressive with his play calling and decisions, but 3 of his passes ended up in the wrong hands. His 2 TD drives were the result of a 1-yard score by RB Najee Harris (12 carries 33 yards) and a 14-yard TD pass to TE Pat Freiermuth (3 rec, 33 yards). WR Diontae Johnson led the Steelers with 6 receptions for 82 yards and rookie George Pickens caught 3 passes for 76 yards.

December losses like this can hurt a team like the Steelers because not only are they close to becoming officially eliminated from the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2019 but are also circling the drain of their first losing season since 2003. But Tomlin will do whatever it takes to have his team ready to fight for respectability, beginning with next Sunday in Charlotte, NC to face the Carolina Panthers.

“You just can’t turn the ball over, particularly in the nature of this match-up. Usually, the team that turns the ball over in the red area is the team that loses,” Tomlin said. “They’ve turned it over some in the red area in recent matchups and we’ve won those games. We turned it over in the red area in this one, so we lost this one.”

Notes: Tomlin addressed the injury report: “Kenny [Pickett] is being evaluated for concussion. He’s in the protocol. I think [Chris] Wormley has a knee injury. Don’t know the significance of that. Obviously, we’ll have that next time we come together. The rest are bumps and bruises associated with play.”

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