If the Pittsburgh Steelers want to remain the AFC North leaders and in the playoff picture entering Week 17 they better beat or tie the New Orleans Saints on the road Sunday afternoon. Thanks to the Baltimore Ravens beating the Los Angeles Chargers on the road Saturday night, the Steelers will need to beat the Saints on Sunday to keep control of the AFC North and remain in the playoff picture entering the final week of the regular season.
In the Ravens 22-10 Saturday night win over the Chargers, rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson completed 12 of his 22 total pass attempts for 204 yards with one long touchdown pass to rookie tight end Mark Andrews in the second half. Jackson also rushed for 39 yards on 13 carries in the game and Ravens running back Gus Edwards added 92 yards rushing on his 14 total carries.
The Ravens defense, however, was the big story Saturday night in Los Angeles as they sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times during the game and intercepted him twice. Additionally, Ravens cornerback Tavon Young returned a fumble by Chargers tight end Antonio Gates 62-yards for a touchdown with 2:40 left in the fourth quarter to ice the game for Baltimore. That fumble came with the Chargers attempting to drive for a go-ahead touchdown.
Rivers didn’t have a great game at all against the Ravens and he finished with 23 completions on 37 total pass attempts for 181 yards and the 2 interceptions. The Chargers running game also suffered Saturday night as running back Melvin Gordon only managed 41 yards and one touchdown on the ground on his 12 carries. His lone score came at the beginning of the second half and culminated a 3-play drive that started at the Ravens 17 yard-line thanks to a fumble by Baltimore running back Kenneth Dixon.
While the Ravens offense possessed the football for a good chunk of the first half, that unit could only muster two field goals by kicker Justin Tucker and Baltimore led just 6-3 at halftime. While the Chargers quickly took the lead in the second half following the Ravens turnover, the Baltimore offense answered quickly with a two play, 85-yard touchdown drive that culminated with Jackson connecting on a deep pass to Andrews that covered 85 yards in total. Tucker added his third field goal of the game on the Ravens next offensive possession to give the Ravens a 16-10 lead with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
The Ravens will now sit back and see if the Steelers can upset the Saints on the road Sunday afternoon. If the Steelers lose to the Saints and the Indianapolis Colts also beat the New York Giants on Sunday, Pittsburgh will fall all the way down to the No. 8 seed in the AFC with one week remaining in the 2018 regular season. At that point, the Steelers would need to beat the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 17 and hope that either the Cleveland Browns can upset the Ravens next Sunday, or for the Week 17 game between the Colts and Tennessee Titans to end in an tie so they can make the playoffs. The Titans, by the way, beat the Washington Redskins 25-16 at home Saturday afternoon to move to 9-6 on the season.