The Pittsburgh Steelers will play their thirteenth game of the 2022 regular season at home and on Sunday afternoon against the Baltimore Ravens, and they’ll actually enter that contest listed as a slight home favorite. Below are five key things that I believe the Steelers will need to do on the road Sunday afternoon to come away with their sixth win of the 2022 season and their second AFC North victory.
Hunt Moving Huntley – While the Ravens won’t have starting quarterback Lamar Jackson on Sunday against the Steelers, they will still be able to run their normal offense as backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has a similar skillset to work with. While Huntley won’t soon be accused of being the same player that Jackson is, he is still very mobile, nonetheless. In relief of the injured Jackson last Sunday, Huntley rushed 10 times for 41 yards and a touchdown. Four of those runs produced first downs with the other the score. For his career, Huntley has rushed for 358 yards and three touchdowns on 67 total carries. The Steelers have had to prepare for several mobile quarterbacks this season and even last week ahead of them facing the Atlanta Falcons. They should be prepared for Huntley and the Ravens’ offensive scheme so it will be very disappointing if the defense is unable to limit the impact that Huntley has on the game with his legs.
Kenny Continue Streaking – Steelers rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett is currently on an impressive streak and it’s one that revolves around him not turning the football over. Pickett has now gone 128 consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception and that’s the exact equivalent of the team’s last four games. The Steelers not turning the football over in their last four games is a big reason why the team went 3-1 in those contests. If they run the streak to five games on Sunday, they should have a great shot at beating the Jackson-less Ravens at home. The Ravens have registered 11 interceptions on the season and 20 total takeaways. In only one game this season did they fail to register a takeaway and that was last Sunday. They still managed to win that game, however. This Ravens’ defense is talented enough to keep the score down on Sunday, so Pickett doesn’t need to help their cause with interceptions.
Third Quarter Touchdowns Allowed – As of late, the Steelers first half offense hasn’t been bad. The same, however, can’t be said about the unit in the second half of games and especially in the third quarter. As Alex Kozora recently highlighted, the Steelers have scored all of 22 points in the third quarter of games this season with only one touchdown included. That touchdown was a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Pickett way back in Week 4, which was his first NFL action. Since then, the Steelers have managed just 12 third quarter points, which came via four field goals. Having point-scoring success on Sunday against the Ravens is likely to be tough. Even so, it would be great to see the Steelers’ offense come out of the locker room in the second half and put up at least one touchdown drive in the third quarter and hopefully that will come as an add-on to the team having already scored at least 13-points in the first half.
Tightly Mark Mark The Tight End – Ravens tight end Mark Andrews should not need any formal introduction to Steelers’ fans at this point in his career as he is one of the best in the NFL at his position. Andrews, who has 25 career receptions for 274 yards in previous games against the Steelers, has somehow failed to score a touchdown against them in the six contests he has suited up for since entering the NFL in 2018. While Andrews has been dinged up at times this season, he still leads the Ravens in all receiving statistical categories entering Week 14 as he has registered 56 catches for 654 yards and five touchdowns. Outside of limiting Huntley on the ground on Sunday, limiting the backup quarterbacks’ connections to Andrews ranks way up high on the key priority list. Andrews hasn’t exceeded 63 receiving yards in a game since Week 7 and he hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since then either. Both of those streaks probably need to be extended on Sunday for the Steelers to have a great shot at beating the Ravens.
Explosive Differential W – Sunday’s game between the Steelers and the Ravens could very well come down to whichever team registers one more explosive play of 20 yards or longer than the other team. In the Steelers last four games, they have managed to register just 14 total explosive plays while surrendering just nine. While 14 isn’t great for the Steelers on offense, it’s been good enough and mainly because the unit hasn’t been turning the football over and because the defense isn’t allowing many big plays. The Ravens, on the other hand, have registered just nine total explosive plays in their last four games and on Sunday they’ll be without their best offensive player in Jackson. Defensively, the Ravens have allowed just 10 explosive plays and on Sunday they’ll get back a key piece in safety Marcus Williams, who has not played since Week 5. It’s hard to imagine the Steelers winning on Sunday if they don’t create more explosive plays than the Ravens do. They might even need three more than the Ravens.