It’s Week 16, the 15th game of the season, and for the second year in a row, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a likely clinching scenario. If they beat the Baltimore Ravens today, and the Jets lose to the Patriots, they will lock up a playoff spot in consecutive years for the first times since the 2010-11 seasons.
The Steelers have no doubt had their fair share of injuries, but they are about to face a Ravens team without their starting quarterback, running back, and left tackle, among other positions, and it’s hard to drudge up much concern about this particular edition of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry. The Steelers have all healthy scratches today.
Inactives for the Steelers:
QB Mike Vick
T Byron Stingily
DE L.T. Walton
RB Jordan Todman
WR Sammie Coates
LB Anthony Chickillo
WR Jacoby Jones
Inactives for the Ravens:
WR Marlon Brown
QB Jimmy Clausen
RB Terrence Magee
CB Jumal Rolle
CB Jermaine Whitehead
LB Albert McClellan
DE Kapron Lewis-Moore
The Ravens won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, which means that, once again, the Steelers will open the first half with the ball, which has been the case in nearly every game this season. Markus Wheaton fielded the opening kickoff for a touchback.
From the 20, DeAngelo Williams got the opening hand off and took it for just under 10 yards. He churned forward for a bit over five yards on second down to convert. Putting the fullback on the field, Williams went around the right end for a 30-yard gain.
Fitzgerald Toussaint checked in and got the ball for a five-yard gain. He was stopped for about one on second down to set up the first third down of the game. Jesse James received the pass in a bunch formation, but only picked up three yards. The Steelers went for it on fourth down, but Williams was stopped for a loss, resulting in a turnover on downs.
On defense, the Steelers opened in their base defense. On first down, the Ravens picked up six with Buck Allen up the middle. As with Williams, Allen found room early on for about 10 on second down. Kamar Aiken was good for 10 yards from Ryan Mallett to midfield.
Terrance West was stopped after one yards. On second and nine, Allen checked back in and was stopped at the line of scrimmage. On third and long, Mallett connected with Jeremy Butler for about 17. After a four-yard gain from Allen, Jarvis Jones tripped him up from the back side after a yard. On third and five, Mallett went to Aiken for the conversion.
From the 22, the pressure got home and Mallett got the ball out, docked for intentional grounding, resulting in a 10-yard loss. On second and 20 from the 32, West took a draw up the middle for 15 yards. On another third and five, Mallett completed to Maxx Williams for yet another third-down conversion. On first and goal from the 10, West was good for two yards. On second down, Brandon Boykin was in coverage on Williams to force an incompletion. On third and goal, Mallett connected with Chris Matthews in the back of the end zone, converting a fourth third down of the drive for the touchdown and the 7-0 lead.
Following another touchback, the Steelers went back to Williams for a two-yard gain. A screen pass to Antonio Brown went for no gain. On third and seven, Ben Roethlisberger found Brown for the first down for 27 yards. Williams got the pitch on the next play and squirmed his way for about 12 into Ravens territory. Martavis Bryant got the end around on the next play for four yards. Williams got a head of steam down to the 20.
After a four-yard gain to end the first quarter, Roethlisberger hit Brown, beating Kyle Arrington in the end zone, but was unable to control throughout the catch, resulting in an incompletion. Now on third and six from the 16, Roethlisberger threw behind Wheaton for an incompletion. Chris Boswell‘s 34-yard field goal made it 7-3.
After a Boswell kickoff taken for a touchback, West escaped to the right edge for about a 14-yard gain. After a stop on first down, Chris Givens was touched down by contact after a six-yard reception. Antwon Blake missed a tackle on third down to allow the first down.
Aiken’s reception was good for another first down in front of William Gay near field goal range. After a five-yard run by Allen, Mallett connected with Williams for the first down. From the 23, Robert Golden forced West out of bounds after a yard. Allen was stopped after three yards on a screen pass to the right. On third and six, Mallett finally threw incomplete on third down. Justin Tucker made it 10-3.
From the 20, Roethlisberger’s first pass of the drive was off-target and off the hands of a Raven. On second down, Williams was able to churn forward for five. A neutral zone infraction gave the Steelers a first down. After a three-yard gain, he was ripped down for a loss of four by his hair. On third and 16, after a delay of game, Brown nearly came up with a big catch for a conversion, but his momentum carried him out of bounds. Jordan Berry‘s punt was fair caught at the 32.
After a four-yard reception on first down, Mallett’s second pass was in the dirt, setting up an early third and 11 after a false start, which was short of the first down after he led his receiver too far and was forced to dive. The punt bounced out of bounds at the 17.
A quick out to Brown was good for nine yards. Roethlisberger hit Williams on the pass, working up the sideline for the first down and more. Roethlisberger was picked off down the field by Daryl Smith on the following play looking for Brown. It was just the fifth interception for the Ravens on the year.
Cameron Heyward made the run stop on first down, and a hold on second down pushed them back further. On second and 19, Mallett connected with Butler to set up a third and two. From the Steelers’ 48, an easy dump off to Allen resulted in another conversion.
West was stopped for a short loss leading into the two-minute warning. He was dragged down by Stephon Tuitt after a short gain. On third and nine, Gay made the tackle on Aiken short of the first down. Tucker hit from 50 yards to make it 13-3.
After a five-yard pass to Williams, Roethlisberger was sacked to set up a third and 12. A false start made it third and 17, on which he dumped the ball off short to Heath Miller for an 11-yard gain. The Ravens used their first timeout with 38 seconds remaining to prepare for Berry’s punt. Shamarko Thomas made the tackle at the catch point after the punt at the 33. After a short draw for six, Allen picked up the first down on a pass getting out of bounds.
From the 44, Allen was stood up after a nine-yard gain. With 13 seconds remaining and no timeouts, following a false start, Butler droppped the pass. Another incompletion left five seconds to play. An incompletion ended the half.