The Pittsburgh Steelers have among the highest overall points margins in the NFL. That is largely a product of the fact that they are undefeated, and had one blowout, a 38-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns a couple of weeks ago, which supplied a good chunk of that figure.
The Browns game, however, is arguably the only ‘complete’ game that the Steelers have managed all season. Even against the New York Giants in the first game of the season, they were actually losing until just before halftime, and they still won by just 10 points when all was said and done. The Denver Broncos also hung around a week later after having their quarterback knocked out of the game early.
The worst offenders haven’t even been mentioned. The Houston Texans outplayed them in the first half in week three. The Tennessee Titans outplayed them in the second half on Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles somehow made it a two-point game with over 11 minutes to play after it seemed like the Steelers put the game away with two third-quarter touchdowns.
The end result in each case was a win, but for the plays on the field, it was hard to feel too great about a lot of them. The second-half comeback against the Texans was rewarding. The domination against the Browns is always fun. But these guys want 60-minute effort that they know they’re not producing.
“We’re trying to do the best that we can to get a complete football game”, T.J. Watt said after Sunday’s game. “That’s not always going to happen week-in and week-out. That’s why it’s so important to get out of these games with a win no matter how awesome or how ugly they look. And the offense did a great job today and the defense. We’ve got to do a better job in the second half”.
Of course, you always want complete games. You want dominance week in and week out. But winning ugly is the next best thing to winning pretty, and sometimes the Steelers have had to get the job done this season in ways that have been less than flattering but which still achieve the desired end.
The Baltimore Ravens are not a team against whom you are likely to be able to play that sort of ‘complete game’. The Tennessee Titans managed it in the postseason last year. The Cleveland Browns more or less managed it early in the 2019 season. But that’s about it as far as the Lamar Jackson era is concerned.
But you know what? It doesn’t matter if they win ugly against the Ravens. Those games are pretty much always ugly. Very few of them are ever decided by more than one possession, and when they are, it’s usually a late tack-on touchdown that doesn’t represent the back-and-forth of the game.