The Baltimore Ravens may be resting several key starters in their meaningless season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be trying to win the game. For one thing, those who are playing in place of valued starters, who don’t often get on the field, will be eager to show what they can do.
That includes Robert Griffin III, a former number two overall pick, who has had a colorful career. After spending 2017 out of football, the Ravens signed him in 2018, and he’s been the backup to Lamar Jackson since the latter has been starting. This year, the Ravens’ numerous blowout victories have afforded him the opportunity to play on more than one occasion.
But despite repeated questions about whether or not he’s viewing this opportunity to start as an opportunity for his future, he had just one focus. “I’m not looking at that stuff”, he told reporters. “We’re just trying to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Division game, and we know that they need it. I know everyone thinks that we don’t, but the guys in that locker room feel differently”.
The Ravens have already secured the number one seed in the AFC, boasting the best record in football at 13-2. They have won 11 consecutive games, and they would certainly like to keep that winning streak alive heading into the postseason, even while protecting some of their most valuable assets in a final game for which no playoff implications exist.
And despite the wounded-bird nature of the Steelers’ offense, they understand how good their defense is, and that’s whom Griffin and company will be facing. “The goal is to go out there and execute at a high level”, he said of his own role in the game.
“This is a very, very, very good defense. Great defense”, he added. “Not only statistically, but they’re what you call a ‘that dude’ defense. They have that dude and that dude and that dude and that dude. So, I know they’re not gonna come into the Bank and lay down. They’ve got everything to play for, and they’ve got great players. So really the focus is just on executing at a high level”.
This season, the Steelers have sent three players to the Pro Bowl in T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, with Watt among the leading candidates to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. They have gotten high-level cornerback play as well, and others such as Bud Dupree and Javon Hargrave have been valued contributors.
In other words, there’s nothing for Griffin and those others on the field to take lightly in hosting the Steelers on Sunday. While a loss may not hurt them for the postseason seeding, there are other things on the line, such as pride, and momentum. And not getting crunched by Heyward.