The Steelers are coming off their first win of the season on Monday night over the currently winless Cincinnati Bengals, going to 1-3 on the season. Today is a pivotal game at home, however, against the Baltimore Ravens, who started out the season with two wins and then have dropped two in a row. With the Cleveland Browns facing the San Francisco 49ers, a lot of position-swinging can take place this week.
On the injury front, but JuJu Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald are active. McDonald missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury, while Smith-Schuster reinjured his toe in that game. James Conner is also active. For the Ravens, Jimmy Smith is inactive, but returning is Brandon Williams. Matt Skura is also active.
The Steelers started the game with the ball, Johnny Holt on the return, where he was tackled at the 11. Mason Rudolph started with a short pass to Smith-Schuster for just two yards in the left flat. On second and eight, he was tackled for a loss on a sweep after Rudolph faked a pitch to Diontae Johnson. Now third and 16 after a false start, Rudolph hit McDonald short of the first for 11 yards to bring Jordan Berry on the field. Punting from his 16, it was fair caught at the 39, Tyler Matakevich making the tackle after just a two-yard return.
Lamar Jackson scrambled on first down for seven yards. Mark Ingram found a hole for a good 14-yard gain across midfield on second down. He was bottled up at the line on the following play. Now second down, Jackson avoided a sack by Stephon Tuitt for another scramble, this for two yards. On third and eight, from the 36, he quickly completed to Mark Andrews for nine. Following a neutral zone infraction, Jackson kept the ball for about 10, inside the 20.
T.J. Watt tackled Gus Edwards from behind for a two-yard gain. At the 10, Ingram was bottled up by Cameron Heyward and Devin Bush. Now third and seven, Cameron Sutton came up with the pass breakup in the end zone, making a fantastic play in front of Marquise Brown. Justin Tucker gave the Ravens the first points at 3-0.
The second drive was a disaster. Following a hold on the return backing them up, Jaylen Samuels threw out of the wildcat for an interception to Josh Bynes. Now Baltimore at the 15, Jackson immediately hit Andrews to the two; however, an illegal hands to the face penalty on Skura negated that play and backed them up to the 25. Jackson avoided another sack, and a hold on Mark Barron gave them an automatic first down. From the 11, Jackson kept it again for about seven.
At the four, Jackson kept it again but was forced to throw the ball away. Tuitt was flagged for roughing the passer, making it half the distance to the goal. Now at the two, Ingram was buried for a short loss. This time, Ingram kept it and scored, the Ravens up early 10-0.
A touchback for Holton was met with cheers from the crowd. James Conner got his first touch of the game and fought his way for five yards. Rudolph connected with James Washington for 21 across midfield. Another good burst from Conner for about eight before converting on the ground a play later. Now at the 35, Rudolph hit Smith-Schuster for the touchdown off play-action, Conner throwing a key block and the receiver winning against Marlon Humphrey at the left sideline. It’s not 10-7 and the Steelers are right back in the game after a terrible start.
A short pass to Ingram gained five on first down, Edward converting on third and one. Brown with Bud Dupree in coverage could not make a catch going over the middle a play later. he was left wide open on the next play, looking like he would wiggle his way for a big gain, but Bush was able to make the tackle after an eight-yard gain. Edwards converted on third and two across midfield.
Ingram picked up three yards to the 47 on first down. Hayden Hurst got the first down on an 11-yard reception. He was hit in mid-air by Barron and Watt. At the 37, Ingram was hit for a loss by Bush and Joe Haden. Good stick. Now second and 11, Jackson threw a short two-yard pass to Hurst. On third and nine, Andrews was left open over the middle of the field for 24. It looked like Barron was frozen.
At the 11-yard line, Steven Nelson was in coverage on an end zone pass to Willie Snead. Jackson hit Brown for the score on the next play, going up against Haden for the score, putting the Ravens back up by 10, 17-7. A 13-play, 75-yard drive.
Following a false start on Washington, Rudolph started the subsequent drive with a nine-yard throw to McDonald. Johnson made the catch on second down but was quickly tackled following a short gain. Now on third and four, it was an easy conversion, a swing pass to Samuels.
At the 40, Samuels was bottled up on the ground for a short gain. A short pass to Smith-Schuster set up a third and five. Rudolph misfired short to Johnson to bring Berry back on the field, punting from the 45. It was fielded for a fair catch at the 11.
Ingram was again blown up for a loss, this by Mike Hilton. Now at the 10, Jackson checked down to Ingram, who barely reached the line of scrimmage. On third and long, Jackson’s pass was off the hands of his receiver, picked off by Kameron Kelly, giving the Steelers good field position.
At the 16, Rudolph was sacked for a loss of seven after holding on to the ball for too long. However, an offside penalty negated the entire play, giving them first down at the 11 instead. Conner gained close to four with a good head of steam on first and five. Out of the wildcat, Samuels was dragged down for a big loss. Now third and six, Rudolph out of an empty set took a sack by Pernell McPhee. It looked like he had Washington open for a first down if he got the ball out quickly. Instead, it’s fourth and 17. Boswell came on for his first field goal attempt of the game, connecting, returning it to a one-possession game at 17-10.
Baltimore started their next drive at the Steelers’ 42 thanks to a big kick return on a short kick. Ingram was limited to a short gain of three on first down. From the 39, Jackson was sacked by Watt as he looked to turn back. Now third and 13, this time it was Vince Williams, the Steelers with back-to-back sacks, pushing them back to midfield. Ryan Switzer was back to return the Ravens’ first punt of the game on fourth and 19. Sam Koch’s punt went for a touchback, the Steelers now with 3:06 to work with in the first half.
Rudolph overshot Johnson on first down on a deep throw. He was nearly intercepted after flushing out of the pocket on the next snap, but Maurice Canady was called for holding anyway. From the 25, he found Johnson for a seven-yard gain as he came up for the throw and was tagged down. Another hard pass, this to Washington, for five and a new set of downs.
Rudolph was hit as he threw for an incompletion on the following play. His next pass to Nick Vannett was off his frame and up in the air, nearly intercepted. Now third and 10, he overshot Holton for an incompletion, giving Baltimore the ball back with 1:45 to play and two timeouts.
From the 11, Jackosn kept the ball for about eight. Ingram converted a play later as the clock runs. Cameron Heyward recorded the sack a play later, the play blown dead with his progress stopped. Mike Hilton picked him off on the next play with 33 seconds left and a timeout with good field position. Hilton has been playing well the past couple of games.
At the 25, Rudolph found Samuels for four yards, inbounds. He airmailed the second-down ball on the following play, but they got a roughing the passer penalty, hit in the face by Michael Pierce. With seven seconds, at the 11, Rudolph threw the ball away. Boswell did manage to cut it to 17-13 at the end of the first half.