The Pittsburgh Steelers defense gave the offense two takeaways. It gave the offense six points—which should have been seven, if not for a missed extra point. The offense mustered just 13 more points for the rest of the game, emerging with a narrow 19-14 victory over a very depleted Baltimore Ravens team.
Even with the win, needless to say, head coach Mike Tomlin was not happy with the performance of his team, especially the offensive side of the ball, but there were enough complaints to go around to ensure that all three phases of the game were represented.
“To be bluntly honest, I’m really disappointed in our performance tonight. It was junior varsity—in all three phases”, he told reporters just a short time ago during his post-game press conference. “We’re fortunate tonight. It’s good to proceed with the victory, but not a lot to be proud of other than that”.
The victory did secure them not only a 11-0 record, but a continuation of their hold on the top seed in the AFC, holding off the 10-1 Kansas City Chiefs, and it also eliminated the Ravens from the running for the AFC North title, sending them to 6-5 on the wrong end of a series sweep with five games left to play.
Against a team without its starting quarterback, who would lose its backup late in the game, down their top two running backs, star tight end, starting wide receiver, top two centers, top two defensive lineman, arguably top pass rusher, and several other key rotational players—particularly along the defensive front—the Steelers managed to put up just 19 points, the first time all season in which they were held to under 24.
Needless to say, that is simply not good enough. You can make all the excuses in the world, given the circumstances that led up to this game, for both sides, but Tomlin would not be interested in hearing them. “We make no excuses. We seek no comfort. We didn’t play well or coach well tonight”, he would say.
I’m sure the Steelers fans watching would agree with him. It certainly was not a great game, by and large, even on the part of the defense, which ended up allowing the Ravens to slip in a 70-yard touchdown late, and had issues containing the run against a team that was absent its top three players in rushing yards in 2020.
Tomlin might not be looking to make excuses for this performance, but he certainly needs to find answers. Pittsburgh has had a couple of decisive wins recently, albeit against rather bad teams, but they are bound to slip up at some point. The goal isn’t to go 16-0, but you don’t want the one time you slip up to be in the elimination stages.