BALTIMORE — The Pittsburgh Steelers shook off a turbulent first half to overtake the Baltimore Ravens and improve to 7-0 on the season. The Steelers held on in the final minute and forced an incompletion on Lamar Jackson's final throw to Willie Snead in the end zone to secure the 28-24 victory.
The Ravens, meanwhile, fell to 5-2 in a game that also saw them lose starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a season-ending ankle injury and left guard Tyre Phillips to injury and pass-rusher Matthew Judon to ejection.
Here are three things we learned:
1. The Steelers find a way again — They opened the year with an impressive 6-0 record a year after an 8-8 injury-ravaged campaign. But prior to Sunday, questions remained about whether strength of schedule had more to do with that than did the Steelers’ greatness. The New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles all own losing records. Pittsburgh earned an authoritative win over the Cleveland Browns but showed some warts in that close win over the Tennessee Titans. Although Sunday's win wasn't always pretty, the Steelers proved resilient enough to earn a comeback victory and improve to 7-0. Pittsburgh had some flashes of greatness against the Ravens, but again displayed some concerning attributes. The Steelers have a defense full of talented young players, but they have sporadically surrendered big plays. On Sunday, they got gashed against the run for 265 yards on 47 carries. Although the defense picked off Jackson two times, Baltimore’s offensive struggles for much of the game seemed to be self-inflicted.
Offensively, Pittsburgh seemed to lack consistency, particularly in an ugly first half in which the unit couldn't get the run game going and the passing game was unimaginative. Give Pittsburgh credit for its ability to make adjustments, however. The Steelers did figure out in the second half that their best bet was to go up-tempo and dink and dunk their way down the field. They also lured the Ravens into critical penalties. Ultimately, both units delivered under pressure.
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) gestures before a play against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Baltimore. (Photo: Nick Wass, AP)
2. Ravens tested and found wanting, again — The Ravens entered Sunday’s game with a fair amount of questions swirling around them thanks given they had yet to respond authoritatively when faced with adversity. Pittsburgh presented the perfect test. Adversity struck right off the bat as Jackson threw a pick-six on his second pass of the game. But the Ravens responded with a scoring drive and went on to take the lead shortly after. Baltimore lost starting Stanley and Tyre Phillips to injuries, and the offense responded by plugging in backups and continuing to move the ball on another scoring drive. The Ravens dominated the Steelers in the first half, gashing them for 179 rushing yards. However, Baltimore delivered an uneven performance in the second half and ultimately couldn’t overcome its own transgressions.
A lack of discipline led to defensive penalties that extended Steelers drives, and an inability to adapt to Pittsburgh’s up-tempo passing attack also did the Ravens in. On offense, ball security hurt the Ravens more than anything. Jackson was responsible for four turnovers, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. A defensive stand provided one final shot, but Baltimore came no closer than the 23-yard line as a pass breakup in the end zone gave Baltimore its second loss of the season.
3. Still quite a gap — Neither of these teams measure up to the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Not at this point in the season, anyway. The Steelers lack an explosive offense, although their defense could cause the Chiefs some problems. And the Ravens still seem to be a playmaker short as well. It’ll be interesting to see if the trade deadline brings Baltimore any additional help. Wide receiver remains an area of need, and players like Golden Tate and Jamison Crowder seemingly could help if their teams make them available.
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