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Steelers vs. Ravens score: Pittsburgh remains undefeated after ugly Wednesday win over Baltimore
Pittsburgh outlasted a late rally by Trace McSorley and the Baltimore Ravens to move to 11-0
The Pittsburgh Steelers have still not tasted defeat in 2020. Mike Tomlin's club remained undefeated on the season after beating the Ravens in a game that was finally played on Wednesday afternoon, nearly a week after it was originally scheduled. The lack of players due to the COVID-19 outbreak within Baltimore was apparent throughout the 19-14 loss, specifically on offense. That said, the extended break did prove a daunting task for both clubs, who showed rust early.
This game had a turbulent start to it with both the Ravens and Steelers turning the ball over during the first quarter. The most costly was Robert Griffin III, who started in place of Lamar Jackson, He threw a third-and-4 pass into the arms of Steelers corner Joe Haden, who picked it off and returned it 14 yards for the touchdown to open up the scoring. Due to Pittsburgh's struggles coming up short on critical downs in the first half, Baltimore was able to stay within a score. John Harbaugh's club even had a chance to head into the halftime locker room with a lead, but poor clock management and a questionable delay of game non-call had the Ravens come away with zero points in the final seconds despite being on the Pittsburgh 1-yard line.
In the second half, a JuJu Smith-Schuster touchdown in the fourth quarter briefly broke the game open for Pittsburgh before Ravens quarterback Trace McSorley, who relieved an injured RGIII, completed a 70-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown to bring the Steelers' lead down to just five. That's about as far as Baltimore would get at mounting an upset, however, as Pittsburgh, on the back of a clutch James Washington catch on third-and-6, was able to drain the clock to remain undefeated.
Here's a closer look at how the Steelers held off the Ravens.
Why the Steelers won
On offense, Pittsburgh overcame several drops that largely contributed to their 1-4 mark in the red zone. Despite the drops, Ben Roethlisberger still completed over 70% of his passes. All told, Roethlisberger threw a season-high 51 passes for 266 yards. He completed seven passes to Eric Ebron, eight to Diontae Johnson and Smith-Schuster and six to rookie Chase Claypool. One of his biggest completions went to Washington, whose clutch third down catch on Pittsburgh's last possession helped put the game on ice. The Steelers' offense also received a strong outing from running back Benny Snell, who tallied 93 all-purpose yards on 19 touches. He earned brownie points with his teammates after hitting Ravens defensive back Marcus Peters with a nasty stiff-arm on the game's last drive.
Defensively, the Steelers continue to dominate opponents on third down, as they have allowed just seven third-down conversions over the past three weeks after holding Baltimore to just 3-of-13 on third down. While the Ravens did rush for 129 yards on 28 carries, Pittsburgh's defense made the Ravens' passing attack virtually non-existent until Brown's 70-yard score. T.J. Watt, who is gaining steam in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, led Pittsburgh with seven tackles (three for loss) and two sacks.
Why the Ravens lost
The Ravens gave themselves a chance, but they simply didn't have the depth and talent to knock off the Steelers. Offensively, Baltimore threw for just 90 net yards, as Brown, Justice Hill and rookie Devin Duvernay were the only Ravens who caught passes. Haden's pick-six took away the momentum Baltimore gained following Tyus Bowser's end zone pick of Roethlisberger just moments earlier. Defensively, the Ravens hit Roethlisberger but never sacked him, as Big Ben's protection improved as the game progressed. Baltimore had more than twice as many penalty yards as the Steelers.
The Steelers appeared to be on their heels after the Ravens forced a turnover on downs on Pittsburgh's first possession of the half. After the stop, the Ravens moved to the Steelers' 30-yard-line after two runs by Griffin and a roughing the passer penalty on Cam Heyward. The Ravens' drive stalled there, however, after D.J. Fluker was called for holding before Watt tackled Hill for a loss on third down. After their defense forced another Ravens punt, the Steelers mounted a 12-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Ben Roethlisberger's 1-yard touchdown pass to Smith-Schuster. The score extended Pittsburgh's lead to 19-7 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
Play of the game
Haden's pick-six, Griffin's 39-yard run near the end of the first half, and Washington's clutch third-down catch each received consideration, but the game's best play has to go to McSorely and Brown's 70-yard score that made it a five-point game with under three minutes left.
"We're happy for the win, but not real happy with how we played today ... We didn't play good enough. I didn't play good enough. We're happy with the win, but offensively, it wasn't good." -- Roethlisberger to NBC Sports when asked about Wednesday's win right after the game's closing moments. The Steelers' offense was held to under 24 points for the first time this season.
"There was a lot of [strangeness]. It is what it is. We don't make excuses. Thank the Ravens and Roger Goodell for moving this game one day so we didn't have to play in the snow storm. So, thank you." -- Roethlisberger when asked about whether or not the unusual circumstances over the past week contributed to the Steelers' offensive struggles.
"Us sucking." -- Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, when asked what he can attribute to some of the drops his receivers had against the Ravens.
Pittsburgh will have a short week in preparation for next Monday's home game against Washington, a game that was pushed back a day after the Ravens-Steelers game was moved to Wednesday. Washington is 4-7 after defeating the Bengals and Cowboys in back-to-back weeks. The Football Team has not played since their 25-point Thanksgiving Day win over the Cowboys. Speaking of the Cowboys, Dallas will travel to Baltimore to face the Ravens next Tuesday night in a game that initially scheduled to kick off tomorrow night. Dallas is 3-8 and in jeopardy of falling out of the NFC East division race with another loss.
Steelers lock up a first down, and will lock up the game. Steelers are 11-0 and have swept the Ravens for the first time since 2017. Pittsburgh will get back to work tomorrow, as they have Washington coming to town next Monday at 5 p.m. The Ravens are 5-6 and will host the 3-8 Cowboys next Tuesday night.
Roethlisberger has thrown a season-high 51 passes tonight. He's completed over 70% of his passes, which is extremely impressive considering how many drops the Steelers had tonight.
Ravens elect to use the timeout now before the 2-minute warning (a Bill Cowher speciality). So the Ravens will get the ball with about 20 seconds left assuming the Steelers don't pickup another first down. Very smart play here by Benny Snell to stay in bounds at the end of that run run. He also stiff-armed Marcus Peters for good measure, earning him plenty of head slaps from his teammates.
Can't stress how big of a grab that catch is for James Washington. My goodness.
Clutch catch by James Washington, the often forgotten Steelers receiver, as Pittsburgh picks up a crucial first down. The Ravens still have a timeout and the 2-minute warning left, so this isn't over yet.
Ravens smarty eschew the onside and pin the Steelers inside their 20-yard-line. Baltimore has all three timeouts left, and the Steelers have not necessarily been good running the ball today.
Trace McSorley has thrown his first NFL touchdown pass. He connects with Marquise Brown on a 70-yard touchdown. Brown evaded Terrell Edmunds, then out-ran everyone into the end zone. And we have a five-point game with 2:58 left. That's the longest play allowed by the Steelers' defense this season.
Bud Dupree heading to the locker room with 5:13 left. Not sure how bad it is or if it's mostly precautionary, considering this game is just about in the can and the Steelers have a short week ahead of them.
Trace McSorley enters the game. He's familiar with Heinz Field, as he played there in college as Penn State's quarterback. RGIII finishes the game with 33 passing yards and 68 rushing yards.
T.J. Watt strengthening his DPOY case today. He has two sacks, six tackles and three tackles for loss. He now has 45.5 sacks in 58 career regular season games.
Chukwuma Okorafor leaves the game for Pittsburgh. He's being replaced by rookie Kevin Dotson, who has performed exceptionally well this season.
No score in the third, but the Ravens unable to mount a serious scoring threat during the quarter. Roethlisberger continued at his first half passing pace, throwing 13 times that quarter after throwing 25 passes in the first half. The Ravens have out-rushed Pittsburgh, 111-28.
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