The Pittsburgh Steelers gave themselves more than enough reasons to lose yesterday’s game, with all three phases contributing. That included a blocked field goal on special teams and three interceptions on offense. Ultimately, the defense embraces its own share of the blame, especially for not giving the team a chance to have one final drive.
In spite of their many miscues, the Steelers pulled to within two points with under three minutes to play. They still had two timeouts, however, and the two-minute warning. Down to their rookie undrafted third-string quarterback, the Ravens were obviously going to keep the ball on the ground. Pittsburgh knew that and couldn’t finish, allowing a first down on 3rd and 3.
“We understood what it was,” inside linebacker Myles Jack told reporters after the game according to the team’s website, regarding the Ravens’ limited repertoire with Anthony Brown in the game. “Everybody’s in a three-point stance basically and it’s just gut-check time and we did not answer it at that point.”
Brown handed off the ball to running back Gus Edwards three straight times, something that became much easier to do once he picked up six yards on first down. He only got one on second down, however, making the third-down call more complicated. Get it and the game’s over. But put the ball in the air and risk an incompletion and you stop the clock—or worse, you can turn the ball over with a rookie trying to make a play.
Baltimore’s final nine offensive plays were all runs, having also chosen to run on 3rd and 4 at the end of their previous drive. J.K. Dobbins was stopped for no gain at that time and the Steelers offense responded with a touchdown to make it a two-point game, but they stayed committed to the ground game on their close-out series to follow.
Brown did attempt five passes in total, completing three for 16 yards with a long completion of seven yards. That was to tight end Mark Andrews to convert on 3rd and 4 from the Ravens’ own 47. The possession-down win helped put them in field-goal range and make it a two-possession game, so he did make one critical play.
But nobody’s going to mistake this for something it’s not. The Ravens ran the ball 42 times and threw it 17 times. They kept running it because it was working and the Steelers couldn’t stop it. They checked their guts and nothing was there. Just like it had been in the second half a week earlier. Only this time they didn’t have a first-half cushion to allow them to survive.