Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) – Baltimore Ravens (9-4): 14-16
The luminescence of Lamar Jackson absent from this clash of division between Steelers and Ravens, the other players were able to emerge from the shadows, this Sunday, in a meeting where direct confrontations put water in the mouths of AFC aficionados North.
That between a Najee Harris found in recent weeks (4.6 yards per run over the last four games), behind a much improved Pittsburgh offensive line, and the second best defense in the league against the run. The one between the Ravens offensive line, without Kevin Zeitler, but recording the return of Ronnie Staley, and the Steelers front seven, despite a diminished TJ Watt.
That also between Tyler Huntley, replacing the style of play similar to that of its holder yet so singular, and the resilient defense of the Steelers. Yet it was the Pittsburgh quarterback, Kenny Pickett, who first made his legs speak, with two races and 16 yards gleaned from the preliminary series of his own.
Justin Tucker in history
A promising first drive, but which quickly ended on a sack in two stages by Patrick Queen (6 tackles, 1 INT, 1 pass defended) and Roquan Smith (6 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack, 2 passes defended). New demonstration of the complementarity of the two linebackers, spearheads of a reinvigorated defense since the acquisition of Smith, and which has maintained three of its last four opponents at 13 points or less.
On the Baltimore side, the second series, after a first without flavor or feeling, made it possible to establish two things, if necessary: that a possible victory would go through the ground game, by JK Dobbins (15 races, 120 yards, 1 TD) to Tyler Huntley (8/12, 88 yards, 9 races, 31 yards), via Gus Edwards (13 races, 66 yards); and that Justin Tucker was the best kicker to ever wear the Ravens jersey. His 42-yard kick to open the scoring made him the franchise’s all-time leading scorer (1,466 points), passing Matt Stover’s 1,464 points. In 33 games less.
—Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) December 11, 2022
After that, there was no need to blink. First because the attack of the Steelers has again shown itself impotent. Then because Pressley Harvin’s punt only landed 17 yards away, on his own 48 yards. Finally because JK Dobbins only needed two games to find the in-goal: his longest run of the season (44 yards) and a short stride combining patience, vision and power (0-10).
Mitch Trubisky triply at fault
Kenny Pickett, hit in the head on the sack of Roquan Smith, finally gave way to Mitch Trubisky (22/30, 276 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs). Before the conclusion of the 1st quarter, the former quarterback of the Bears and the Bills, gave reason to George Pickens, who asked last week, that he be throw the fucking ball. The rookie receiver showed off his talent on a reception from 42 yards, then causing the Ravens’ ninth pass interference of the season. Najee Harris (12 races, 33 yards, 1 TD, 2 receptions, 17 yards) is then not asked to register his fourth touchdown over the last four matches (7-10).
But hunt the natural, it comes back at a gallop. While Pittsburgh advanced quietly to the red zone of Baltimore, thanks to 23 new yards gleaned from the ground by Harris, Trubisky did not find Pat Freiermuth, but his former teammate Roquan Smith. Instead of allowing the Steelers to equalize or take the advantage, his interception allowed the Ravens to widen the gap a little more, on a new field goal from Justin Tucker (7-13).
To those who wonder how a 2nd draft pick can find himself replacing a rookie on his third team, five years later, a second consecutive interception in the opposing red zone can provide the beginning of an answer. patrick queen thank him.
For those wondering how a 2nd draft pick can find himself replacing a rookie on his third team, five years later, a third interception in four series may provide the definitive answer. The only notorious event of the 3rd quarter, in addition to Tyler Huntley’s passage into concussion protocol, leaving undrafted rookie quarterback Anthony Brown (3/5, 16 yards) to take his first snaps in the NFL.
AFC North still undecided
And even when Trubisky manages to put several good plays end to end, Calais Campbell comes out of his box and blocks the ninth (ninth!) field goal of his illustrious career. To the three points added by Justin Tucker (7-16), the Steelers quarterback responded by finally finding Pat Freiermuth (16-14). Because everything comes at the right time to who knows how to wait. But too little, too late.
Hoping to regain possession in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, against these Ravens and their running game, was unexpected. Baltimore without its superstar, Baltimore with its third quarterback, Baltimore without really shaking continues its race at the head in the division, in spite of the victory of the Bengals. Almost a miracle given the injuries and adverse match circumstances this season. The Steelers are only one defeat away from finishing with their first negative record since Mike Tomlin is their coach.