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Heyward Scratching His Head Over Defense Allowing Final Rushing First Down: You Know Where The Ball Is Going

It may be December but over the last six quarters, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ run defense has been carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey forgotten in the back of the freezer. After the Atlanta Falcons found ground game traction in the second half last Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens picked up where they left off and ran over Pittsburgh’s defense from start to finish.

By game’s end, they had 215 yards. And the most pivotal six of them came on 3rd and 3 with 2:14 left. Baltimore leading 16-14 just ahead of the two-minute warning, Edwards ran off right side for six yards, a relatively easy run to move the sticks. With Pittsburgh out of timeouts, the game was over and after three Raven kneel downs, the clock hit zero.

Speaking with reporters after the game, Cam Heyward said he’s unsure how the Steelers’ run defense looked so weak in that moment. Here’s what he said via The Athletic’s Mike DeFabo.

“That’s the head scratcher because everything’s downhill,” he said via DeFabo. “You should be knowing where it’s going by that point.”

Here’s a look at the play. As the Ravens consistently did throughout the game, they ran power with the LG pulling as Edwards followed behind. #99 Larry Ogunjobi was late off the ball, Devin Bush was swallowed up by Patrick Ricard, and Edwards wasn’t even touched until he had already picked up the first down.

It was one of many run defense miscues in this game. From not getting off blocks to not being assignment-sound, the Ravens ran at will the entire game. J.K. Dobbins had the biggest run of the game, 44 yards right up the gut, on a play where Cam Heyward was turned out and the linebackers were stuck on their blocks.

In their last five meetings, the Steelers have allowed 200+ yards rushing to the Ravens in a whopping three of them. Despite Baltimore being without Lamar Jackson, the Ravens handled their backup – and eventually third-string – situation far better than Pittsburgh handled theirs. Mitch Trubisky made plays but also turned the ball over while the Ravens had zero giveaways, though there was a peculiar “tie” on a fumble recovery that allowed Baltimore to retain possession.

On the other side, Pittsburgh’s rushing attack did little, averaging 3.3 yards per carry with a long of eight from any non-QB. Combine all those factors and there isn’t much to scratch your head about. Lost the turnover battle, gave up two bills on the ground, couldn’t sustain much with your own run game. That’s a losing formula. And a “L” is what the Steelers are holding tonight.

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