The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens squared off in Week 17 at M&T Bank Stadium under a steady rain, and plenty on the line for the visiting team. The two AFC North rivals couldn’t have found themselves in different situations in the regular season finale. The Ravens had already locked up the top seed and home field advantage in the AFC Playoffs, while the Steelers’ playoff hopes were hanging by a thread.
The Steelers needed to beat the Ravens, and get some help by way of the Houston Texans beating the Tennessee Titans. With both games being played at the same time, there would be plenty of scoreboard watching going on throughout the contest.
Baltimore started with the football and did nothing but run the ball with Robert Griffin III and Gus Edwards as they moved the ball quickly into the red-zone. On a 3rd and 8 play, and their first pass attempt of the drive, Mike Hilton blitzed off the edge and sacked Griffen. What resulted was a Justin Tucker field goal to give the Ravens an early 3-0 lead.
The Steelers gained one yard on their opening drive before sending Jordan Berry on for his first action of the game. When Griffen and company got the ball again, it was more of the same. Gus Edwards running the ball with authority as Baltimore got the ball into the red-zone. But, again, the Ravens failed to punch the ball into the endzone, settling for Justin Tucker’s second field goal of the day.
On Pittsburgh’s second offensive drive they started to find a rhythm. Hard Benny Snell Jr. runs and two big completions to Diontae Johnson put the Steelers in a first and goal situation. On the next play from scrimmage Snell had a hard run into the endzone for the Steelers touchdown.
The Chris Boswell extra point made the score 7-6 with 12:50 left in the second quarter.
For the first time in the game, the Ravens were unable to get points on a drive, and Sam Koch was called on to punt the ball away. It looked as if the Steelers’ offense was going to remain in a groove on offense after connecting on two first downs on their next possession. But, like it has been all season, the unit can’t afford to experience negative plays. A negative run on first down followed by a sack set up a 3rd and 21, and Jordan Berry’s next action.
Baltimore’s next drive was aided by a bogus roughing the passer call on T.J. Watt, and a big third down strike to Hayden Hurst. But the drive ended like all the others that got into scoring range, with a Justin Tucker field goal, making the score 9-7 with 1:10 remaining in the half.
On the Steelers’ next drive their turnover streak reached 23 games when Devlin Hodges didn’t protect the ball while under duress and got it stripped out of his hands. It looked as if Jaylen Samuels fell on it, but the wet football squirted out and was recovered by the Ravens. With a short field, it took the Ravens just a few plays to hit pay dirt and extend their lead to 16-7 at the half.
Pittsburgh received the kickoff to start the third quarter, they gained two yards before Jordan Berry punted the ball away to the Ravens. Baltimore’s first drive of the second half was short lived when T.J. Watt forced a fumble on Gus Edwards which was recovered by Joe Haden. However, all the Steelers were able to muster off the turnover was a Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 16-10 with 9:55 left in the third quarter.
A Ravens drive that started at the end of the third quarter and took up a minute of the fourth quarter resulted in another Justin Tucker field goal to extend the Baltimore lead 19-10.
The Steelers’ offense got progressively worse as the game went on, and to make matters worse, the special teams decided to throw in their own blunders too. Jordan Berry botched a snap and fumbled and recovered in the endzone for the Ravens’ touchdown. Pittsburgh’s next possession started with Kerrith Whyte Jr. misplaying the kickoff, pinning the offense in their own end. On second down Devlin Hodges was called for intentional grounding in the endzone, which is a safety. The safety made the score 28-10 in the waning minutes of regulation. 28-10 would hold as the final score.
The loss didn’t end the Steelers season, it was the Tennessee Titans beating the Houston Texans which essentially made the game in Baltimore meaningless. Nonetheless, the Steelers end the season losing three straight, and it was a horrible outing to send the team into the offseason. 8-8 might have felt like a long-shot at the beginning of the season, but sure feels deflating at this time.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as the offseason begins and big decisions need to be made from an organizational standpoint.