The Pittsburgh Steelers end their 2021 regular season with a big rivalry game against the Baltimore Ravens. They have been fortunate to come out on top in their last three outings, and are looking for a second season-sweep in a row. Standing between them and that goal is Tyler Huntley, making his fourth career start.
Huntley is a second-year former college free agent out of Utah. He won the backup job behind Lamar Jackson during the preseason. He’s 1-2 as a starter, but has had his team competitive each week, even coming within a failed two-point conversion of a rousing comeback against the Green Bay Packers. Mike Tomlin and company are not taking him lightly.
“I’ve been really impressed with his fluid decision-making in the passing game”, the Steelers’ head coach said on the Mike Tomlin Show of Huntly yesterday. “He gets the ball out on rhythm, he reads secondaries very well for a guy with limited experience. If you look at his completion percentage, it really illustrates that”.
“I spent some time in the early portion of the week studying his preseason this year when he was able to win the job” from former backup Trace McSorley, he continued. “I was wondering how he did it, and this guy completed over 70 percent of his passes in every outing he had in the preseason. He makes good and fluid decisions, the ball comes out on time, and I know that that’s attractive from their perspective”.
In six games this season, with three starts, Huntley has completed 106 of 157 pass attempts for a completion percentage of 67.5, throwing for 940 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He’s also rushed for 222 yards on 35 attempts with two touchdowns.
Jackson, meanwhile, is missing his fifth consecutive game due to an ankle sprain, and the Ravens have lost every single game since then—including the game in which he was injured. It’s the first five-game losing streak of head coach John Harbaugh’s career, and it could get to six today.
Both the Steelers and Ravens are competing for a seventh and final postseason slot in the AFC. They both need the Indianapolis Colts to lose today, though Baltimore needs more help. They also need the Los Angeles Chargers to lose to the Las Vegas Raiders, and for the Miami Dolphins to lose to (or tie with) the New England Patriots. Truthfully, the first, which the Steelers also need, is the least likely to happen though.
But it won’t mean anything if Huntley can’t help the Ravens get one over the Steelers, who have just as much to play for, and will also be motivated by the fact that they are in the midst of what would otherwise be quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s last game ever if they don’t make the postseason.