Good evening, folks. And welcome to perhaps the last Steelers game of the season. Pittsburgh needs help to advance, win or lose, though it certainly gets a lot easier if they win. And in their effort to achieve victory, they will be without the services of Maurkice Pouncey and James Conner, who are inactive due to injury. Also inactive are Amara Darboh, Zach Gentry, Chukwuma Okorafor, Tuzar Skipper, and Artie Burns, over whom Marcus Allen is dressing.
For The Baltimore Ravens, Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Brandon Williams, Earl Thomas, and Mark Andrews are inactive, most simply to rest. It’s likely that the playing time of others will be withheld or monitored in addition, including cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Marcus Peters.
The Ravens returned the opening kickoff out past the 30. Gus Edwards picked up five yards on first down to the 38. He got four before he was stopped by Terrell Edmunds to set up third and one. Trace McSorley checked in and just got the first down on a keeper. At midfield on second and two following a neutral zone infraction, Griffin picked up the first on a keeper himself.
Cameron Heyward missed a tackle on Edwards, who picked up six to the Steelers’ 34. He got to the edge for a nice gain inside the 25. Justice Hill was stopped for no gain on the next play. He was limited to a short gain to set up third and long. Mike Hilton got home on the blitz for a sack. T.J. Watt also came in late. Justin Tucker gave the Ravens an early 3-0 lead.
Benny Snell got the first carry from the 25, stopped after a yard. Devlin Hodges threw a duck incomplete on second down in wet conditions. On third and nine, he threw short, incomplete under duress, in the direction of JuJu Smith-Schuster near the sticks for a quick three and out. Jordan Berry’s punt bounced out of bounds at the Ravens’ 35.
Following a short gain on first down, Griffin hit Hayden Hurst on a crossing route across midfield, making a fantastic one-handed catch. Edwards burst through a big hole to set up first and goal a couple plays later. The Ravens tried to run it with Chris Moore, but he was strung out right for no gain at the four. Griffin threw a fade to the left corner of the end zone, broken up by Steven Nelson. Joe Haden was in coverage on Nick Boyle on a sidearm pass flicked up in the air behind the intended target, but it fell incomplete. Another Tucker field goal made it 6-0.
After two carries by Snell set up third and short, Hodges found Johnson for the first down, his first completion on his third attempt of the game. With time to throw, Hodges drifted back and threw the ball away on the following play. Kerrith Whyte was held to three yards on second down. With plenty of time to throw, he eventually found Johnson for 21. It almost seemed as though Marcus Peters gave up on the play.
From the Ravens’ side, Snell got the edge for seven on first down on the first play of the second quarter. On second and three from the 25, he punched ahead up the middle close to the first down. On third and one, they stayed on the ground, Snell bursting through the middle. He stayed on his feet through an arm tackle, continuing forward, but was ultimately tripped up inside the five. Snell once again, and he got around the left tackle for his second career touchdown, giving the Steelers the lead, 7-6.
Edwards put the Ravens ahead of the 1978 New England Patriots for the most rushing yards in a single season by converting on third and one with a nine-yard effort. At the 43 now, Griffin was brought down by Bud Dupree for no gain as he looked to be off to scramble, so I guess not officially a sack. Griffin’s deep pass for Miles Boykin was played well by Nelson, the receiver needing to become the defender on the play. Now third and five after a neutral zone infraction, Devin Bush had a chance for a pick on a misaligned pass from Griffin, incomplete, forcing a punt. Johnson returned the punt about 10 yards to the 18.
Following a seven-yard pass to Vance McDonald, Snell picked up four for the first down. From the 30, Whyte was stuffed after just two yards. James Washington dropped a short pass over the middle on second down. Now third and eight, Hodges spun out of a sack to complete a first-down pass to McDonald, but a defensive hold would have given the Steelers a first anyway.
Whyte lost four yards on first down. Hodges was sacked, like a sitting duck in the backfield, brought down by a blitzing Brandon Carr. Now third and a mile (21 yards to be exact), the Steelers just threw short to Johnson. He did break two tackles to get up to the 46, but still well shy of the first. It does bring him closer to the Steelers’ rookie receptions record. He needs four more I believe as we sit here. Berry’s punt went end over end into the end zone, just a 33-yard net.
Following a couple of keepers from Griffin, Watt swatted a pass down, but he was flagged for unnecessary roughness after the play, an apt call throwing a shot with the elbow to Griffin after the play. That puts the Ravens at the Steelers’ 45. Griffin went down on the play, Watt among the defenders in on the play behind the line of scrimmage, Dupree the other. Griffin was nearly sacked for a huge loss by Dupree, but was able to throw the ball away. Now third and 12, with Dupree sidelined, Griffin found Hurst for the first down for 22 yards to the 27.
Inside the two-minute warning, Edwards tripped in the slick conditions to set up third and seven. Griffin’s screen pass fell incomplete, over the head of Hill, sending Tucker back out for his third field goal, now 9-7. Following a 16-yard pass to Jaylen Samuels, Hodges threw incomplete to Smith-Schuster from the 45. Hodges was sacked deep and lost the ball, the fourth time he has been sacked and fumbled, but this was the first time he lost the ball. The one thing he couldn’t afford to do. Samuels had a shot at recovering but it squirted out in the rain.
With just 45 seconds left in the half, Baltimore is now at the 23. Or the 28, after a false start. On third and five, Justice Hill juked Mark Barron in open space on a screen pass to pick up the first. The ball came under Watt’s arm, trying to swat it. Now at the eight, with 26 seconds, Hill punched his way home to give Baltimore now a 16-7 lead, up two possessions. Edmunds was run over near the line of scrimmage.