The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens tonight looking to wrap up the AFC North, a feat they can accomplish with a win. But of course we know that will not happen because they are looking ahead to the Patriots next week, unfortunately. It’s too bad there’s no reason to watch this game, knowing that. Damn trap games n’at.
The team is facing the prospect of finding a way to play without Ryan Shazier tonight, and will evidently be looking to do so through some combination of Arthur Moats, L.J. Fort, and Sean Spence. At left cornerback, Coty Sensabaugh and Cameron Sutton will rotate.
Brian Allen is also active over safety J.J. Wilcox, who was penalized twice on special teams last week, though Allen has two penalties on special teams in the past two weeks himself. The decision to sit a healthy Wilcox, however, says they believe Mike Mitchell is perfectly ready to go.
Oh, and James Harrison is active, too. So is Vance McDonald, the latter being more important, yet not as attention-grabbing.
The Steelers won the coin toss and chose to defer to the second half. The opening kickoff was returned to about the 19 after fielded at the two. Roosevelt Nix made the tackle, and then pointed to the number 50 beneath his jersey.
From the 17, Alex Collins picked up three on the ground on first down. Sean Davis made the open-field tackle on Jeremy Maclin on a bubble screen. On third and long, Joe Flacco stepped up and did something of a jump throw to Danny Woodhead, who found space for a gain of 26 to the 41.
A toss to Maclin on the opposite side picked up nine. Collins picked up the pass and broke tackles before fumbling, but Mike Wallace recovered. Javon Hargrave forced the fumble.
Now to the Steelers’ 36 already, after facing third and eight, Collins was tackled after a short gain by T.J. Watt. Vince Williams made a good tackle on Woodhead on a screen pass to force third down, after which he came off the field. On third and four at the 30, Flacco threw to the end zone, intercepted by Davis inside the five and returned to the 41, Davis’ second interception of the season. Offsetting penalties following the play on Ryan Jensen and Tyson Alualu.
From the 41, Le’Veon Bell got the ball on first down and picked up a yard up the middle. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Martavis Bryant to the right sideline to set up third and short. Bell got the ball needing two yards, and the officials marked him across the line. Now beyond midfield, Roethlisberger paused several times before finding Jesse James over the middle for another first down. Antonio Brown had a block on the play.
Inside the Ravens’ 40, in the no-huddle, it was James again over the middle for nine yards. Now huddling, showing four wide with Bell in the right sidecar, Roethlisberger looked for the homerun ball to Brown, who caught it, but out of bounds. He got one foot in. Close. Third and one at the 29, the Steelers, like the Ravens earlier, had to burn a timeout. Bell got the ball on the other side of the timeout with a one-cut run for about nine.
From the 20, Bell lined up as a wide receiver and Roethlisberger found him at the 10, breaking tackles for the score and the opening-drive touchdown.
Following a touchback, Flacco’s first pass following the interception was errant, incomplete. Arthur Moats is in after Sean Spence and Fort saw time on the opening drive. Flacco connected with Chris Moore for a first down. Wallace was slow to exit the field, going down at the line, possibly a hamstring injury or something of that nature.
Woodhead picked up six or seven on the following play on the ground. Flacco checking down to Woodhead, Williams was there to stop the back for no gain. Now third down, Flacco found Michael Campanaro uncovered for the first. After forcing a third and three, Flacco’s pass was errant again, with Coty Sensabaugh nearly making a diving interception away from his body. Sam Koch’s punt was fair caught just inside the 10.
Opening with a tackle-eligible, Roethlisberger checked down to Bell for seven on first down. He picked up 12 on the ground on second down. James Conner getting a carry was stopped for no gain on the following play. Vance McDonald lined up in the backfield before checking wide, as did Conner. Roethlisberger found McDonald on the move for a first down and more, looking no worse for the wear on that ankle injury.
After another McDonald reception for six over the middle across midfield, Roethlsiberger connected with Brown for his first reception of the game, but slipped for just two yards, setting up third and two. Roethlisberger Pringled, then turboed, then scrambled for the first down to end the first quarter.
Conner picked up six on the first play of the second quarter. A short pass to Brown lost the ball out of bounds, but Brown beat Brandon Carr down the field to the six. After an incompletion on first and goal, David DeCastro was flagged for a false start. A ball looking for Bryant drew a pass interference flag on rookie Maurice Canady. On first and goal from the one, Bell bounced out wide, running over Carr for the score, his second touchdown of the game. Jerald Hawkins as the tackle-eligible on the play side put a defender on his back.
Cameron Sutton rotated in for Sensabaugh to start the Ravens’ third offensive drive. Collins ran off right tackle for six. Another two yards for Collins set up a quick third and two. The Ravens showed a lot of presnap movement that worked out in their favor, Collins with a jump cut for a first down and a bit more, for about seven.
To the 39, Flacco felt the pressure lurking and misfired out of bounds. On second down, Flacco was able to escape pressure from Watt to hit Buck Allen, picking up another first down across midfield.
To the Steelers’ 41, Collins nearly broke free, but L.T. Walton made a key tackle to limit him to about seven. He got to the 30 on the following play.
After a first-down throwaway, Flacco threw deep, hitting Chris Moore for the touchdown, getting behind Davis from 30 yards out. Vertical routes stressing the coverage. 14-7 game.
Bryant was tackled at the 12 following a bouncing ball on the ensuing kickoff. Bell was good for two on first down. He took a beating to get four off the right side on the following play, and then checked out of the game. Fitzgerald Toussiant replaced him on third and four. Roethlisberger found Eli Rogers to convert. Replays show Bell took a shot to the knee, though his foot was off the ground.
James picked up four yards on first down. Brown beat Carr deep again for the second time in the game, this one for 43. Roethlisberger was sacked on the following play by rookie Tyus Bowser. That one was on him. On second and 16, Bryant lost yardage on a screen. Eric Weddle came clean on the blitz, and Roethlisberger nearly threw an awful interception that Terrell Suggs dropped. Chris Boswell connected from 52 yards to make it 17-7.
On a short kick, Chris Moore was able to get out beyond the 30, but the Ravens were flagged for holding on Canady, who had the pass interference in the end zone. That backed the Ravens up to the 15.
Collins broke tackles along the sideline after the Steelers failed to force him out of bounds, escaping for 38 yards down to the 30. Buck Allen added another nine as the Ravens look to quickly score again. He added enough for a first down inside the red zone.
Down to the 18, Collins bounced outside for the touchdown just after Tomlin gave his defense a speech about tackling during the two-minute warning. All of a sudden it’s 17-14 as Alex Collins dominates the Steelers’ defense.
Bell, back in the game, lined up wide on first down. James made a good adjustment on first down on a pass behind him as he streaked upfield for a first down. A quick pass to Bryant added seven out of bounds with 1:20 to play. Bryant was left open over the middle for the first, but he got little more than the first as he was tripped up, the clock running. Roethlisberger scrambled and was sacked again on the following play. They used their second timeout there with 51 seconds to play.
On second and 15 back to the 41, Roethlisberger misfired out of bounds to Brown in bracketed coverage. Now third and long, Roethlisberger picked his spot and threw a dagger to Rogers, who made a nice catch for the conversion.
With 27 seconds to play at the Ravens’ 43 now, following a spike, it was McDonald down the field for 18 to the 25. Roethlisberger again opted to preserve the timeout with another spike with 12 seconds left. He took a shot to Bryant, incomplete, leaving six seconds remaining for Boswell to attempt a 43-yarder. He was good. But the decision not to use the timeout cost them the ability to run another play. 20-14 going into the half.