The Pittsburgh Steelers may be 1-1 against the Baltimore Ravens when Lamar Jackson is starting at quarterback, but it took an overtime fumble by wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster in a game that Mason Rudolph started at quarterback and Devlin Hodges finished to actually get Baltimore that first win.
Granted, the Steelers only squeaked by to win earlier this season in Baltimore, the game coming down to the final play with free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick breaking up a pass into the end zone intended for wide receiver Willie Snead, which would have been the game-winning touchdown if completed.
It cannot be denied, however, that the Steelers have been more successful than any other defense in forcing him to make mistakes. In two games, they have intercepted him five times and recovered two fumbles. He has thrown 15 interceptions in 32 starts, and the Steelers account for a third of them in 1/16th of the games.
They also account for two of his nine career lost fumbles. In all, they have been responsible for seven of his 24 total giveaways, or nearly 30 percent, in 6.25 percent of his starts. How exactly have the Steelers accomplished this?
“You’ve got to put him in situations that he’s uncomfortable, whether it’s pressure, get them behind the sticks where he’s got to take a couple more chances than needed”, said defensive lineman Cameron Heyward, after they forced him into four giveaways earlier this season. “But that’s not indicative of how the game’s gonna go this time. we’re gonna have our work cut out for us. They’re hungry for a win. We’re hungry for a win as well, so it should be a great matchup”.
Since the loss to the Steelers, he has thrown two more interceptions in three games played, versus three touchdown passes (and one rushing touchdown). He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, averaging a little over 200 yards per game, and another 55 rushing, while taking five sacks.
With the Ravens down both Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins, the latter of whom had become their primary running back in recent weeks (including his first-career 100-yard game against the Steelers four games ago), there will be even more pressure on Jackson to be responsible for the offense.
The biggest thing that he can do for himself is to get the Ravens off to a good start, as they typically do, because he plays better with a lead—as almost everybody does. But he has a pretty mediocre track record from a small sample size when asked to come back to win games. I don’t know how many opportunities he’s had, but he only has three game-winning drives in his career over 32 starts.