The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens entered Week 13 with completely different perspectives. The Steelers hadn’t won a football game since Week 9, and the Ravens were continuing their role as the top team in both the AFC and AFC North with their 8-3 record. With their postseason hopes on the verge of extinction, the Steelers needed a win to remain relevant.
After the Ravens lost the opening coin toss, the Steelers chose to defer their possession to the second half. Lamar Jackson and company took over at their own 25-yard line and the drive looked a lot like the last three games for the home team. Lamar Jackson hit several passes, and Devonta Freeman was moving the ball well on the ground into the red-zone.
However, on a 3rd and 6 from the 10 yard line, Jackson was pressured by T.J. Watt off the edge and the pass thrown off his back foot was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick in the end-zone.
The Steelers were unable to even must a first down before Pressley Harvin III was called on for duty, but on the Ravens’ second possession, the Steelers’ defense delivered a three-and-out of their own.
Pittsburgh’s offense continued to struggle, and relied on a Harvin punt to pin the Ravens at their own one-yard line. After the Harvin punt, the Baltimore offense continued to dominate the game and went on a 99-yard drive resulted in a Devonta Freeman touchdown run. The Justin Tucker extra point made the score 7-0 with 8:37 left in the first quarter.
Throughout the entire first quarter, and the majority of the second quarter, the Steelers’ offense had run just six plays. On their third possession of the game, Ben Roethlisberger hit Najee Harris for a quick hitter pass for the team’s first, first down of the game. However, after that was another three plays and punt series.
Baltimore had a chance to put this game away, and even with several questionable calls going their way, the Pittsburgh defense was able to get the ball back to the offense at the two-minute warning with all three timeouts remaining.
Passes to Chase Claypool and Pat Freiermuth moved the ball near midfield, and after a beautiful pass, which would have been a touchdown, was dropped by Diontae Johnson, the drive stalled in Chris Boswell’s field goal range. Boswell made the 53-yard kick to make the score 7-3 heading into halftime.
The Steelers received the football to start the second half, and it was a beautiful pass down the sideline to Ray-Ray McCloud which looked to spark the Steelers’ struggling offense. However, the reception was overturned after a Baltimore challenge. The call stalled the drive, and the Steelers were unable to put points on the board to start the second half.
The Ravens’ first possession of the second half was more of the same for the Baltimore offense. Lamar Jackson was able to mix the throw, pass and run to move the ball into scoring range. However, the Steelers’ defense continued to stand tall when it mattered most, and held Baltimore to a Justin Tucker field goal to make the score 10-3 with 7:24 left in the third quarter.
Unable to put points on the board, the Steelers sent the ball right back to the Ravens, but the Pittsburgh defense continued to do their job and keep the team in the game. With the ball to start the 4th quarter, it took just two plays for the Steelers to strike. A pass to Chase Claypool put the Steelers in field goal range, and a beautiful throw to Diontae Johnson had the Steelers first touchdown of the game.
However, Chris Boswell missed the point-after, making the score 10-9 with 13:55 left in regulation.
It was Baltimore which would answer, but it would happen in questionable fashion. A defensive pass interference call on Minkah Fitzpatrick equated in a huge gain for the Ravens. Just a series later and Tucker was on to make the score 13-9 with 11:51 left in the fourth quarter.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense, thanks to a big catch and run by Diontae Johnson and quality plays by Najee Harris, were able to answer the Ravens’ field goal with a Boswell field goal, this one from 43-yards. It made the score 13-12 with 7:23 left in regulation.
T.J. Watt took over the next series, forcing an errant throw on first down and sacking Jackson on second down. The 3rd and 15 play was a deep pass to Mark Andrews which was broken up by Akhello Witherspoon, forcing another punt.
Ben Roethlisberger and company took over with a chance to take the lead. The team put together a beautiful drive which featured both key pass conversions to Zach Gentry and Diontae Johnson, but also timely runs by Najee Harris and Benny Snell Jr.
The Pittsburgh offense faced a 2nd and 2 at the Baltimore 13-yard line at the two-minute warning. After a false start gave the Steelers a new set of downs, it was a third down pass to Diontae Johnson, his second of the game, which gave Pittsburgh their first lead of the game. Mike Tomlin elected to go for the two-point conversion, and it was completed to Pat Freiermuth to make the score 20-13 with 1:48 left in the final frame.
Lamar Jackson did what he always does, and that is bring the Ravens roaring back when needed the most. Huge conversions to Hollywood Brown and Sammy Watkins set up a first and goal situation. On 3rd down Jackson hit Watkins for the touchdown. Instead of kicking it and going for the tie, John Harbaugh decided to go for the two-point conversion. Jackson’s pass intended for Mark Andrews fell incomplete, giving the Steelers the win.
The win moves the Steelers’ record to 6-5-1 on the season as they now prepare for a quick turnaround as they travel to play the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football in Week 14.