The Pittsburgh Steelers have to win to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals, who posted a victory earlier in the day. A win would keep Pittsburgh half a game behind the Bengals, but they would go ahead of the Browns, who just lost, and it would obviously put them ahead of the Baltimore Ravens, whom they face tonight.
But they’ll be tasked with measuring up with a depleted secondary with Morgan Burnett and Mike Hilton, as expected, inactive. Terrell Edmunds and Cameron Sutton should take their places. Also inactive are Mason Rudolph, Justin Hunter, Marcus Allen, L.T. Walton, and Zach Banner.
The Ravens received the opening kickoff, which went for a touchback. From the 25, Alex Collins opened with an 11-yard cutback run. John Brown picked up a few yards on an end-around. On second and seven, Joe Flacco fired quickly to Michael Crabtree, Artie Burns making a quick tackle after a three-yard gain. Now third and four, Nat Berhe was beaten over the middle for the first down to Brown across midfield.
Lamar Jackson under center handled off to Collins, who stepped through a couple of tackles for about seven yards. Off play action, a short pass to Willie Snead was held short of the first by Sutton. One third and short, needing two yards, Jackson kept the ball, but the Steelers called a timeout before the snap. Buck Allen stepped through a tackle for the first down, the third of the drive.
At the 33, Flacco hit Brown over the top for the touchdown, beading Joe Haden and Sutton, the Ravens grabbing an opening-drive 7-0 lead.
Following a touchback, Ben Roethlisberger started off with a short pass over the middle to Vance McDonald for five yards. With four receivers on the field, he misfired short to Antonio Brown at the sticks. McDonald was held short on third and four, but Tony Jefferson stripped the ball out and recovered. He initially returned it for a score, but was ultimately ruled down.
Taking over from the spot of the fumble at the 31, Flacco quickly threw over the middle to Chris Moore for a first down inside the 15. Jackson kept the ball for eight yards to the five. On second and two, Collins picked up one yard. It was an easy pitch and catch to Colins to put the Ravens up 14-0.
Switzer returned the ensuing kickoff to the 21. James Conner got his first touch of the day for a yard, but a holding call came against JuJu Smith-Schuster. Now to the 11, Roethlisberger was forced to throw the ball away as a blitzer got through. Conner then carried for two yards. On third and 18, he picked up nothing on a screen pass, resulting in a three-and-out, and a deep punt for Jordan Berry. The ball only reached the Ravens’ 42.
Collins was tripped up at the line of scrimmage on the first play of the Ravens’ third drive. Jon Bostic made a good open-field tackle on Maxx Williams for a short gain. On third and eight, Flacco was hit as he threw with Crabtree wide open over the top against Haden, the Steelers catching a break. The punt went out of bounds at the 15.
Roethlisberger rolled out and had his pass batted by Brandon Williams. On second down, he checked down to Conner for a short gain, but it was negated due to a penalty on Marlon Humphrey for defensive holding, a first down. The first of the game for the Steelers.
Now at the 20, Conner spun his way for about two yards. Roethlisberger went over the top off play-action to Smith-Schuster for a big gain down the field for 38 yards. Conner was stuck for two yards on the following play to the Ravens’ 38. Switzer went for eight yards and a first down on the following play inside the 30. He went back to Switzer for a short gain over the middle. On second and four, it was Switzer for a third time in a row for three yards, setting up third and one. Conner took it up the middle for the first.
At the start of the second quarter, Roethlisberger narrowly avoided a strip sack for an incompletion. Following a three-yard gain from Conner, it was third and seven inside the red zone. With four receivers on the field, he went into the end zone for Smith-Schuster, who had it initially before Brandon Carr came in to knock it out. Very good play from the veteran cornerback. Chris Boswell got the Steelers on the board with a 34-yard field goal right down the middle.
Flacco hit Brown deep down the field on the first play of the ensuing drive all the was down inside the red zone. Williams set up a first and goal a play later. From the two, Collins tried to stretch the ball wide but was stuffed at the line. He lost the ball, Sean Davis recovering.
From the one-yard line, Roethlisberger looked for the homerun ball down the left sideline for Smith-Schuster, but Carr was able to punch it away. On second down, he looked vertical again, this time for Jesse James over the middle for a nice gain of over 20 yards.
Following a 12 players on the field penalty against the Ravens, Roethlisberger shot left to James Washington for four yards. On second and one, he went to McDonald over the middle short, who forced a missed tackle for a handful of yards after the catch. To the 45, Conner was shoved down after two yards. Roethlisberger was under pressure but spun back and hit Smith-Schuster, coming back to the ball, for a first down.
Switzer caught his fourth pass of the game a play later for about six yards. Smith-Schuster couldn’t hold on to a sideline pass on second and four. Now third down, with five wide, Roethlisberger finally connected with Antonio Brown with a catch-and-run for the first down and more. A flag came in for an illegal crackback block against Conner, however, negating the play and adding a 15-yard penalty. It was still third and four from the spot of the foul, so Roethlisberger found Brown again for the conversion.
To the 27, he went back to Brown again for seven yards. Roethlisberger had his pass defended on second down, Smith-Schuster taking a shot on the tipped ball. On third and three, following a second Steelers timeout, he looked deep for Brown into the end zone, incomplete. A 39-yard attempt from Boswell was good again, down the middle, making it 14-6 and a one-possession game.
On the ensuing drive, Flacco connected with Snead for 11 to open things up. Davis came up to tackle Andrews after a short gain. Crabtree dropped the ball over the middle on second down, not an uncommon sight for him. Haden had deep coverage on Brown on an incompletion, but he was probably lucky not to be flagged. Still, it forced a fourth down and a punt, which was nearly blocked by Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was banged up on the play. It was a great punt, negated by a hold, forcing a rekick. On the second try, he was tackled after a three-yard gain to the 24-yard line.
McDonald added 11 yards on a screen to open the drive. Roethlisberger was nearly intercepted on the following play by Tavon Young. McDonald dragged a couple of defenders down the field for 33 yards, trucking Jefferson, who stripped him early in the game.
From the 32, Roethlisberger threw to Washington for a short gain up the left sideline. On second and four, after rolling out to avoid pressure, he came back to his left and threw w strike to a covered Antonio Brown, who made the catch for his third touchdown of the season, making a very AB-like play. On the two-point attempt to try to tie the game at 14, he connected with Conner, his second conversion through the air of the season.
Bud Dupree recorded a sack on the ensuing drive, and on second down Allen nearly slipped by Vince Williams, tackled just a yard short of the first. On third and one, the fullback dive was stopped short by Williams. On fourth and inches, they let the clock run down to 17 seconds.