The Pittsburgh Steelers know they let a great opportunity slip away Sunday in the AFC North rivalry matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.
With that opportunity that slipped away, so too do the Steelers in the latest NFL Power Rankings from NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus, which dropped Tuesday morning. After hovering just outside of the top 20 for the last few weeks, the Steelers fell two spots in Tuesday’s power rankings as the season is all but over for the black and gold.
Sitting at 5-8, the Steelers need a lot of outside help to even remain in the playoff picture. Though they are still technically “in the hunt” and not mathematically eliminated just yet, the road ahead to get into the playoffs is a difficult one. Finishing with a winning record at this point is difficult too, as the Steelers would need to win the last four games of the season to achieve a winning season.
Unlikely at this point, especially with the status of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett — who suffered a second concussion in 10 games Sunday — unknown.
Knowing that, it’s unsurprising to see the Steelers fall to No. 24 overall in the power rankings, dropping behind the likes of the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns while sitting just ahead of the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Rams.
“The Steelers had a faint pulse in the playoff chase after three wins in four weeks, but their chances of relevant January football likely died with Sunday’s narrow loss to the Ravens at Acrisure Stadium,” Hanzus writes regarding the Steelers’ ranking at No. 24 overall. “Kenny Pickett exited the game after a hard hit by Roquan Smith and is in the concussion protocol for the second time in as many months — an ominous development. If Pickett misses time, Mitch Trubisky will step back into the starting lineup. The veteran provided some spark to the offense against Baltimore, but he also threw three interceptions. Get well soon, rookie.”
The Steelers were playing rather well and were on the verge of climbing out of an early-season hole after winning three of the last four coming out of the Week 9 bye week. Then, on the fifth play of the game it seemingly all came crashing down as Pickett was sacked hard by Roquan Smith, ultimately forcing him from the game a short time later.
Though Mitch Trubisky provided a real spark on his first drive, leading the Steelers down the field for a touchdown thanks to his 42-yard completion to rookie wide receiver George Pickens, that spark ultimately fizzled out as Trubisky threw three costly interceptions in the loss, which was largely the difference.
Not only that, in the biggest game of the year to date for a team trying to control its own destiny, pick up a win in division play and move closer and closer to the final Wild Card spot, the Steelers got pushed around at home in embarrassing fashion as the Ravens ran roughshod over them throughout the matchup.
Now, sitting at 5-8, all hope appears lost. Those good feelings about the second half have disappeared and some of the gloom, despair and agony from the first half is slowly starting to creep back into the picture.