Steelers Vs. Ravens Week 14 Recap: With PFF Total Snaps & Grades

Unfortunately, we are talking about a pivotal division loss, with the Pittsburgh Steelers now 5-8 after falling to the Baltimore Ravens 14-16. Quarterback Kenny Pickett exited the game in the first quarter due to injury, and Mitch Trubisky put the team’s turnover-less streak to an end with a whopping three interceptions, including continued struggles situationally in the red zone (2-5). Pittsburgh also got destroyed in the run game battle allowing 215 yards while only gaining 65. In this article, I will provide data from Pro Football Focus and takeaways from watching the film.

Let’s start with the offense:

PFF’s highest-graded offensive player for this week is tight end Connor Heyward (84) on his 11 snaps, highlighted by a nice catch over the middle late in the game. Three other players had +70 grades, each of the Steelers’ primary receivers, starting with wide receiver Diontae Johnson (80.1) who caught six of his eight targets for 82 yards which is his best yardage total to date, but still a goose egg in touchdowns on the season. Next is tight end Pat Freiermuth (77.5) who caught three of his six targets for 33 yards, including a late touchdown on a slant to bring the team within two late in the game. Wide receiver George Pickens (74.4) had a nice game as well, catching all three of his targets for 78 yards, getting involved downfield providing a double explosive 42-yard catch stacking the corner, and another excellent back shoulder contested hands catch for 25 yards. Two below 50 grades this week, wide receiver Gunner Olszewski (44.1) getting obliterated on a run block attempt in front of a jet sweep, and catching one of his two targets for seven yards. The lowest grade of the week was tight end Zach Gentry (40.3), struggling in the passing game with a blatant drop on Trubisky’s first pass of the game. Most would probably think his grade should be lower with his three interceptions (67.7), but had a good game otherwise, going 22/30 overall for a 73.3% completion rate and a late touchdown. Thought the offensive line had a down game and was expecting tackle Chukwuma Okorafor’s (68.1) and James Daniels’ (60.8) grades to be a bit lower.

Pittsburgh’s offense came on quickly at 13:31, and Pickett takes the shotgun snap looking left, then looks for running back Najee Harris who was covered on the short zone by cornerback Marcus Peters, and scrambled for three yards where linebacker Roquan Smith prompted the slide. On second and seven Pickett takes the shotgun snap from an empty set, going through his progressions and not liking what he sees, scrambles once again, this time getting down the sideline for a gain of 13 where he was run out of bounds.

The following first down was Harris’ first rush, where center Mason Cole allowed his man inside limiting the hole, and Okorafor created good movement initially, but Jason Pierre-Paul worked back inside to tackle the gain of three. On second and seven it was Harris on the ground again, but not much push overall and guard Kevin Dotson allowing his man outside nearly making the play, and defensive lineman Calais Campbell working through Okorafor to the ball to tackle another three-yard gain. Third and four now, and Ravens linebackers Patrick Queen and Smith both showed blitz, with the former coming and the other dropping which confused Cole, allowing the free path to Pickett, getting spun around and impressively staying on his feet, but Smith shooting towards him as he regained his balance to wrap him up and sacks him hard, clearly shaken up after the play. Forced to punt on their first drive.

Back at 4:46 down by three, Pittsburgh started things off with Harris on the ground with good initial blocks, but the Ravens linebackers were able to get off Daniels’ and Cole’s blocks to tackle the successful five-yard gain. On second and five, the interior got a decent push initially, but the tackles allowed a convergence along with Smith filling the hole to limit this one to only a yard. Third and four now, Pickett slid right on the dropback with tackle Dan Moore pushed back, targeting running back Jaylen Warren on the short pass that was batted down at the line. Baltimore declines the holding penalty on Moore, three and out, punt.

Pickett was ruled out for the game so on comes Trubisky down by ten with 2:26 left in the first quarter, and first down is a play action roll to the left where he targeted tight end, Zach Gentry, hitting his hands on the drop on a good pass away from the defender (Queen) at the sticks. On second and ten, Trubisky hands to Harris straight ahead with reverse action to Johnson behind it, but nowhere to go against Baltimore’s strong run defense on the gain of only one. Third and a long nine now, and Warren provided an excellent block in pass pro standing up Smith, and Trubisky slides left with Daniels getting beat inside by Queen, throwing a dart to Freiermuth on the in route at the sticks, along with a bit of YAC for a gain of 14 and conversion.

The drive continued with another play action pass from Trubisky and noted a solid rep from Moore but Gentry allowed penetration on his block nearly getting to him as he unleashed it downfield to Pickens, who impressively stacked cornerback Marlon Humphrey, so well in fact he was able to wait on the underthrow and secure it for the double explosive 42-yard catch. What a great and much-needed play here.

This set Pittsburgh up in the red zone and Trubisky went right back to Pickens, who drew a huge pass interference call on Humphrey on the end zone target, setting up first and goal from the one-yard line. Harris got the call, taking the handoff straight ahead and leaping over the line, dangerously extending the ball out over the plane, risky with Smith right there that could have led to a costly turnover, instead it thankfully pays off for the touchdown and good answer by the offense. Great start for Trubisky as well, deficit cut to three.

At 11:37 and down by three still thanks to a fourth down defensive stop, it was another play action on first down, where Harris attempted to cut Queen on his blitz up the middle, with the latter pushing him to the ground as he skied over him, wrapping Trubisky up by the ankle as he got the pass off to Johnson on the stop route at the sticks, but he all too familiarly ran backward looking for YAC, instead tackled for only eight yards. On second and two the offensive line provided good collective run blocking including Daniels on the second level, giving him space and a cutback for the successful seven-yard run and comfortably moving the chains.

The following first down was back to Harris on the ground, able to get another chunk and successful eight-yard run with good seals from Cole and Daniels, along with a good combo from Dotson for the hole and churning effort. On second and two, rookie defensive lineman Travis Jones swam inside Cole and stopped Harris short of the sticks for only a one-yard run, setting up third and short. Third and one to be exact, and great play call faking the fullback handoff to Derek Watt that has been used recently, and Trubisky rolls right and gets the leak-out pass to Harris with some running room to the sideline for the conversion and seven yards.

The encouraging drive continued with running back Benny Snell’s first rush, nearly tackled immediately in the backfield on the free blitz from Peters, then hurdling a cut block by tight end Connor Heyward, tripped up on a good effort just to get a positive gain of a yard. On second and nine, Baltimore was penalized for a neutral zone infraction setting up second and four. Back to Snell on the ground here, with good overall blocking including Freiermuth, but Moore didn’t connect on the second level, allowing Smith to hit him at the line, but good churn for the successful three-yard gain. Third and one now, and the Ravens hand over an easy conversion with their second neutral zone infraction in three plays.

This set Pittsburgh up in the red zone, and Harris gets the handoff and cuts back due to no space in the designed lane, finding a slither of space between Freiermuth and Okorafor for two yards. On second and eight, Trubisky drops back and looks over the middle, but the wobbly pass goes right to Smith for a painful red zone interception, with two receivers in the same area, with wide receiver Steven Sims seemingly running the wrong route, along with a 19-yard return before Johnson could make the tackle. Can’t cash in on the strong drive and Baltimore penalties, ugly turnover, and no points.

One last first-half opportunity at 1:03 down by six following the touchback, and both tackles did a good job pushing their rushers past Trubisky, getting the pass to Johnson on the curl, going down, and catching the slightly low target. Pittsburgh hurries up saving their three timeouts, and Trubisky goes deep to Pickens on a pretty back shoulder throw and amazing hands catch, plucking it out of the air against Humphrey’s contested coverage for an impressive 25-yard gain and going out of bounds on the very timely play.

31 seconds left, and Olszewski runs the short stop route, making the catch for the seven-yard gain, getting Pittsburgh in field goal range, and timeout #1. On second and three, Freiermuth gets the short target and attempts to get outside, with a bit of YAC and nine yards, timeout #2. Empty set on first down with 26 seconds in the half, and Daniels lost off the line and ended up on the ground, with Trubisky triggering quick over the middle though, a poor decision targeting Freiermuth in traffic, and an excruciating leaping interception from Queen, the second for Trubisky in the game. Near/in red zone struggles continue, but even worse with turnovers, down by six at the half.

The offense got the ball first to start the second half and began with a Harris run, and while there was not much room behind a Heyward pull and Daniels seal, should have run straight ahead for what was there, instead trying to bounce outside around Okorafor’s block and corralled for no gain. On second and ten, Trubisky got the shotgun pass to Sims on the left side despite Moore being pushed back, catching the wide-open out route but ended up on the ground, where he lunged forward for a bit of YAC on the six-yard gain. Third and four now, and Baltimore only rushed three on Trubisky’s drop back, still getting a push allowed by Dotson, and Johnson seemingly got away with a push-off on the out route against Peters, getting separation for the catch and run out of bounds for 14 yards.

The drive continued with Warren, with good collective run blocks but Gentry garnered a tough assignment against Campbell on his pull inside and allowed the tackle on the successful four-yard run. On second and six, Trubisky play actions and gets the quick out to Johnson who got space from the trips alignment, but once again runs backward limiting the gain to only one yard on the bobbling catch. Third and five now, and Trubisky drops back and wants to see the all-22 to see if anyone was open, considering he held the ball, then ran the wrong direction with late pressure allowed by Okorafor, then tried to elude to the left and just able to get rid of the ball and hit as he threw from roughly 23 yards behind the line, getting the wobbly floater to Sims on the sideline, getting both feet in but pushed out of bounds immediately for only two yards. Ugly breath-holding play leads to the punt.

At 7:18 in the third quarter from their own 11-yard line and down by six, Pittsburgh’s offense began with a Harris run where wide receiver Miles Boykin connected on a pulling block, but minimal room behind Cole and Moore limited the one-yard gain. On second and nine, Trubisky stepped back to pass and moves the pocket a bit with Okorafor pushed back, getting the pass to Sims on the comeback for 11 yards on the chain mover against rookie safety Kyle Hamilton. The following first down was a shotgun play action, holding on to the ball despite short open targets, able to duck and break the sack attempt with Okorafor beat around the edge, then rolling left and finding Harris over the middle at the sticks, hit quickly by Humphrey for ten yards.

This first down was another play action, back to Sims on an in route who forced a missed tackle on Peters, getting healthy YAC on the gain of 11 for the first down. Warren got the next opportunity, taking the handoff but Daniels was beaten off the line along with Gentry lacking push on his initial block, with both defenders converging to tackle him for a loss of one. On second and 11, it’s a shotgun empty set with Freiermuth aligning in the slot on the trips side, and Johnson in the slot on the other with the latter getting the target on out route, making the first defender miss for good YAC and getting out of bounds for just enough for the first down. Trubisky dropped back following a hand signal to Johnson, then triggering to him deep down the left side despite Moore allowing a push and Okorafor unable to land his block, but it’s floated and overthrown near the end zone for the third interception of the day, this one by the safety at the one-yard line. Sickening, and crazily three of his four incompletions to this point were interceptions. Wow.

Returning with 21 seconds in the third quarter and the same scoreboard Trubisky play fakes, then unloads it to Pickens on the post route for the catch and 11 yards.

Continuing to start the fourth quarter, Sims comes in motion and takes the jet sweep with Warren out in front with a decent block, but Olszewski is absolutely obliterated on his by Humphrey, making the tackle for a short gain of only one yard, wow. On second and nine, Trubisky has just enough time to get the shotgun to pass off with Warren picking up Smith who blitzed up the middle, and Moore losing around the edge, with Olszewski going down in attempts to corral the low pass, but the near catch bobbled and Peters rips it loose for the incompletion. Big third and a long nine with Baltimore’s defense playing aggressively and with an attitude, and Daniels lost his block as Okorafor comboed to the second level, and Trubisky dumps it off to Warren, who provided a much need huge play, cutting inside making two defenders miss with big YAC on the 14-yard game and conversion to keep the discouraging start to the drive alive.

Warren provided another chunk on first down, this one a run for eight yards though Pittsburgh was able to accept a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on Peters after the play setting up another first down. This set Pittsburgh up in the red zone, let’s see what they can do with the game and season on the line. Trubisky looks left, pumps, then progresses to the right and is hit as he threw with Cole beat and ending up on the ground, forced to dump it off to Warren who dances and gets a bit of YAC, but is limited to a two-yard gain. On second and eight, Okorafor is beat around the edge and Trubisky tries to step up but is quickly sacked setting up a long third down and the Steelers take a timeout. Trubisky targets Johnson in the end zone here, but the pass is overthrown and sails out of bounds incomplete. Crucial miss yet again on a red zone trip, and Pittsburgh brings on kicker Chris Boswell to expectedly trim the deficit, but crazily is blocked, and the red zone woes continue, ouch.

Pittsburgh’s offense didn’t return until 3:19 left in the game, with Baltimore having an eight-minute drive and extending the lead to nine in a run game clinic. Trubisky went incomplete to Freiermuth over the middle on first down, with Smith making the play in coverage. On second and ten, Dotson failed to pick up the twisting pass rush, allowing a huge quarterback hit on Trubisky’s deep dime to Johnson on the go ball, who stacked Humphrey for the solid 37-yard explosive catch, and the QB hit was also flagged for an additional 15 yards. Huge play. Trubisky threw another great pass on the following first down despite Daniels losing his block and the defender closing in, dropping it over Smith to Heyward over the middle for the catch and gain of 13 to put the offense in the red zone on the ten-yard line.

Trubisky threw another good pass here, targeting Harris on the out from the backfield, unable to reel in the catchable pass near the sideline and incomplete. On second and goal, there was an odd play with offsetting pass interference penalties in the end zone on Johnson and Humphrey, don’t think I’ve seen that before, weird. Retrying second and goal, Trubisky kept it rolling with another solid pass despite Daniels being pushed back again, hitting Freiermuth over the middle on the slant at the goal line, making the catch for the touchdown! Boswell makes the extra point, and it’s a two-point game with 2:30 left.

Now for the defense:

PFF’s highest-graded player of the week was defensive lineman Chris Wormley (90.7), showing out against his former team, highlighted with a sack and forced fumble on his 22 snaps. Great to also see cornerback Cameron Sutton get some recognition with strong play recently, and in this game (80.5) was targeted four times, which was the most on the team, and only allowed one reception for three yards for a 39.6 passer rating allowed, and both of his tackles going for stops. Four other players had +70 grades, starting with fellow cornerback Levi Wallace (76.5), who allowed two catches on both his targets for 15 yards, tackling the catch quickly and three in total. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (74.1) unfortunately led the team in tackles, pointing to him having to clean up the poor run defense, though he made some quality plays in the process. Baltimore had a good plan for edge rusher T.J. Watt (73.8), using fullback Patrick Richard to seal him repetitively, limiting him quite a bit, but was able to tie for a team-high in pressures (four), along with a sack. Safety Damontae Kazee (73.3) is the final player with an above 70 grade, with strong tackling but one, in particular, was on the second level on another chunk run play. Six players with below 50 grades, four of which were defensive linemen, highlighted the poor run defense: Isaiahh Loudermilk (44), Tyson Alualu (42.2), Montravius Adams (30.2), and DeMarvin Leal with the lowest 29.3 defensive grade of the week. The others were cornerback James Pierre (49.6) who struggled in coverage and linebacker Devin Bush (31.1) who by no means had a great game but thought his grade was a bit low and fellow linebacker Myles Jack’s was too high in my opinion.

Pittsburgh’s defense took the field first, defending running back J.K. Dobbins (making his return from injured reserve) on the ground, and good job by defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi to staying clean and purse down the line and eliminating any cut-back lanes, and Sutton waiting on the edge to make the tackle for no gain. On second and ten, linebacker Bush came on the blitz which allowed edge rusher Alex Highsmith to come free on his pass rush, but Tyler Huntley was able to get the pass out quickly, and back-to-back plays made by Sutton, undercutting the route for the pass break-up but unfortunately, he was late getting his hands up on the near interception. Third and ten now, and Huntley throws the comeback near the sticks, where the receiver had to backtrack on the catch and wrapped up immediately by Wallace pushing him backward and out short of the sticks for only nine yards. Encouraging start forcing a three and out.

At 10:24 with the scoreboard still empty, the give is to Dobbins gaining four yards behind three pulling blockers who created space including a double team on Ogunjobi, and good backside pursuit by defensive lineman Cameron Heyward to combine with him for the tackle, but successful run of four yards. On second and six it was right back to Dobbins for the same result, getting around linebacker Robert Spillane in the backfield, and a good edge set by Alex Highsmith and ripping inside to combine for the tackle with Ogunjobi, who worked down the line well once again. Third and a short two here, and good collective rush and coverage on the short route concepts and strong get-off/push from Highsmith along with Heyward prompting the scramble, and Watt coming from his off-ball alignment over the center to trip Huntley up just short of the sticks on the diving effort. Baltimore goes for it on fourth and one, staying low on the scramble and picking up two before Adams could make the tackle. Late-down run success was a concern in a concern in this recent article, rearing its ugly head in this matchup as well.

The drive continued with running back Gus Edwards’ first carry, behind three pulling blockers again (fullback Patrick Richard sealing Watt successfully and repetitively), and able to get two yards before Highsmith could wrap him up with him in pursuit from the backside, and Fitzpatrick coming down to help push him back following a gain of two. On second and eight, safety Terrell Edmunds aggressively shot ran to the backfield orbit motion, leaving the wide receiver wide open for the catch and YAC of 11 yards where Fitzpatrick and Pierre combined for the tackle. The following first down was another chunk play, with Huntley play-actioning and hitting the same receiver wide open past the sticks, adding more YAC on the explosive 23-yard gain before Edmunds and Bush could get him out of bounds. Too easy.

Back to the ground on this first down, a four-yard gain by Edwards where Pittsburgh plugged holes well but was able to churn before edge rusher Jamir Jones and Edmunds could combine to bring him down. On second and six, left tackle Ronnie Stanley was pushed back having to take on Jones and Fitzpatrick who came on the blitz, with Huntley’s target to tight end Mark Andrews going off the lineman’s helmet and up in the air, but no one in the area to make a play on the ball. Third and six now, and Huntley gets antsy in the pocket with safety Damontae Kazee blitzing off the edge, and the pass flies out of bounds, not on the same page with Andrews and incomplete. Luckily this drive nearing the red zone ends in a field goal.

The defense returned in difficult field position of an incredibly short punt and down by three, and when it rains it pours, with Dobbins getting the handoff and gashing the Pittsburgh defense through a gaping hole for a double explosive 44-yard gain, where Heyward got dominated and turned around on a combo block, along with linebackers Myles Jack and Bush unable to get off their blocks, with Fitzpatrick thankfully able to run him down and out of bounds, but all the way to the four-yard line. Eek. The effort was futile though, with Dobbins punching it in on the very next play, where Ogunjobi got inside a double team but allowed the bounce out, along with Bush and Fitzpatrick blocked well with the latter unable to get him low on the churning touchdown. Field position, double explosive run, quick touchdown allowed, and now down by ten.

With eight seconds left in the first quarter, the defense returned with the deficit cut to three, and Huntley convincingly faked to Dobbins on the run-pass option, sucking Highsmith in and beginning to scramble but saw wide receiver DeSean Jackson wide open for the completion and gain of nine yards, with cornerback Arthur Maulet getting the tackle as he went to the ground.

Continuing to start the second quarter, it’s second and one, and Edwards gets the carry and hits the hole between Alualu and Wormley and churning through an Edmunds tackle for nine yards with Heyward coming in to help bring him down. On first down, Edwards got another chunk run, with Richard getting a good initial lead block on Wormley who got off it and had a chance to make a play at the line, instead able to bounce it outside with defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal and Edmunds losing edge contain for 16 yards, with the latter and Fitzpatrick finally tackling him out of bounds.

Another first down and Pittsburgh got a nice interior rush on Huntley’s drop back, looking for a receiver over the middle but Jack was right there in coverage, and Alualu getting his hands up in the passing lane, allowing Wormley enough time to work inside and get his hands there and Alualu also continuing to pursue hard and combine for the sack. On second and 16, Watt and Highsmith each provided a good edge rush, but Wormley was sealed inside creating a huge scramble lane, with Huntley roaming through green pastures, trying to maneuver around Kazee who made a good open field tackle but a gain of 11. Third and five now, and Watt went for an inside pass rush here that lost edge contain, allowing Huntley to scramble and a heck of a play by Fitzpatrick to zoom in for the big hit out of bounds, just short of the sticks for an awesome third down stop. Baltimore is going for it on fourth and one for the second time of the game, sending the wide receiver in motion and Huntley’s jet handoff attempt goes off his hip for the fumble, able to corral it before Watt could get there and fall forward, with Jack and Ogunjobi right there and the former credited for the tackle on the huge stop!

Returning at 5:35 off a Trubisky interception and still down by three, Dobbins got the first down carry behind the three pulling blockers yet again, and Heyward did a good job recognizing this and working to the ball carrier to tackle the three-yard gain and a good job by Jack taking on a double team to turn the run inside. On second and three, Huntley threw to running back Kenyan Drake in the flat, and Spillane sized him up and lit him up on a hard tackle for no gain. Third and seven now, Watt and Highsmith both got a good pass rush as Huntley surveyed over the middle and got Pierre to commit that way and able to slide and throw left on a jump pass to the wide-open Jackson for an explosive 25-yard catch and allowed conversion, ugh.

The following first down was back to the ground with Dobbins for a churning run, but Adams was penalized for defensive holding, setting up another first down. Watt dropped into coverage here and Spillane came as the fourth rusher on this Huntley play action, losing contain and allowing him to get to the sideline for nine yards with Jack hitting him out of bounds. Man, the run defense is really struggling. On second and one, Edwards got a turn on the ground, able to move the chains with a bit of space as Spillane was blocked to the ground on the three-yard run, with Wormley making the tackle.

Now at the two-minute warning and defending from the red zone, Huntley read-options on the jet and keeps it, and thankfully Heyward beat rookie center Tyler Linderbaum forcing him to check it down to Drake (Andrews seemingly open on a deep crosser), with Jack running him out of bounds but getting the brunt of the contact and knocked on his backside for only a yard. On second and nine, Huntley keeps on the run-pass option with Watt committing hard to Drake, and Edmunds on the edge turns the scramble back inside for only two yards where Heyward worked down the line to make the tackle. Third and seven now, and Huntley drops back from shotgun and Highsmith came free on his pass rush, along with Watt winning on a hesitation inside move, but able to juke and get outside the latter to extend the play and target Andrews on the run to the sideline, overthrown and incomplete out of bounds. Good job holding in the red zone after the offensive turnover, and the field goal makes it a six-point deficit.

The defense returned with 10:49 in the third quarter still down by six, and of course, it’s Dobbins on the run and getting behind pulling lineman, able to find space with Pittsburgh unable to get off blocks overall, particularly Bush and Heyward washed inside and Highsmith working off Andrews’ block from the slot alignment along with Fitzpatrick coming down to combine for the tackle, but a nine-yard gain. On second and one, Dobbins was able to gain another six yards between blocks on Adams (double team) and Heyward, along with Jack and Bush combining for the tackle with the latter combo blocked initially. Huntley then dropped back with ample time and slid right with a late rush from Ogunjobi to find Andrews for his first catch of the game, going down to grab the target from the slot and Edmunds touching him down on the ten-yard gain.

The drive continued with an Edwards run, where Wormley over-pursued allowing a lane, Adams worked to the ball well, and Bush stayed clean to make the tackle the five-yard gain. On second and five, it was Edwards again but interestingly cut back into traffic where Edmunds came free off the edge along with Jack staying clean to tackle the one-yard gain. Third and four now, and Huntley takes the shotgun snap and read-options, deciding to keep with Highsmith free and containing the edge on the running back, keeping it instead and running to the right where Watt set the edge well, turning him inside where Adams wrapped him up at the line, along with Fitzpatrick darting in with a solid hit (originally flagged and luckily picked up, would have allowed conversion) to combine for the stop short of the sticks forcing the punt. Huge to not allow points coming out of the locker room, the deficit still at six.

Third-string quarterback Anthony Brown came in with the Fitzpatrick hit taking Huntley out of the game, coming out throwing on first down, able to get the pass off despite Heyward winning and getting in his face on the throw, and was able to get three yards on the out route, and Sutton reacting quickly and providing the solid tackle for only three yards. On second and seven, back to Dobbins on the ground, and Heyward nearly got to him in the backfield through the hole behind the pulling lineman, who landed blocks on Jack and Bush on the second level to free him for the 11-yard gain where Edmunds and Heyward pursued him all the way from behind the line. Struggles on run defense continue.

Drake got the next rush opportunity as the drive continued, and much better job filling gaps here along with the linebackers staying cleaner, particularly Jack who got to him behind the line, and on the churn, Wormley did a great job to force the fumble (injured and would not return) and Watt got so close to coming up with it first, but the ball bounces Baltimore’s way with an offensive lineman recovering. That would have been huge and given Pittsburgh’s offense starting position in the red zone, unfortunate. On second and nine, Brown threw deep but nobody was home on the route miscommunication setting up third and long. Third and nine now, and Pittsburgh brings a five-man blitz including Spillane, who got good penetration along with Highsmith, and Watt twisting inside and all collapsed the pocket with the latter getting a big sack. Good hold that should give the offense good field position, still down by six.

Returning at 11:14 needing a huge play with the scoreboard remaining, Baltimore came out as expected with a Dobbins run behind two pulling linemen, and Bush was able to stay inside of it to make the tackle but it’s a five-yard gain. Back to it on second and five, and Ogunjobi is sealed in the backfield on the Dobbins run behind pullers to the right this time, and thankfully Watt is able to work through one of these blocks just enough to trip him up, but the defense allows another successful run of four yards. Big third and one now, and it’s a fullback dive to Richard who churns and muscles his way past the sticks, fighting through the combined tackle by Jack and Watt for the conversion, man.

The following first down was a shotgun pass, where the edge rushers were pushed past the pocket, and Brown targets the receiver over the middle, going off his hands with Sutton in good coverage, popping in the air and Kazee tracks it and dives for it, but yet another missed opportunity with the Steelers just unable to make a play, sheesh. On second and ten, the Ravens kept the passing game going, completing an easy out route and running out of bounds for six yards in front of Wallace’s coverage. Third and four now and needing a play, Pittsburgh brings the blitz but no dice as Brown gets it out very quickly to Andrews on the stop route at the sticks, making the catch against Fitzpatrick and churning through his tackle for seven yards and another conversion.

The drive continued with a Dobbins run on first down, gouging Pittsburgh for 14 yards as he showed the wide run, setting up the cutback lane with Ogunjobi, Heyward, and Alualu all over pursuing along with Bush and Leal sealed on the back side for a huge hole, and Fitzpatrick making the last line of defense tackle, demoralizing. Dobbins was allowed another successful run on the next first down, behind three pullers to the right creating a wall and the offensive line sealing the backside along with great second-level blocks, putting on a clinic against the Steelers run defense for six yards where Kazee had to come down from deep alignment to make the tackle. On second and four, it was Edwards’ turn, with another hole to the right where Loudermilk was sealed and Jack was pancaked for yet another chunk run, this one seven yards and Fitzpatrick having to make another run tackle, not what you want to see.

The long drive continued in the red zone now, and finally, on this run, the Steelers make a stop, with Bush filling the hole and forcing the bounce out, where Highsmith set the edge and turned the run back inside, with Bush and Kazee getting in the backfield to combine for the tackle for a loss of one, finally. This was short-lived, with second down going right back to the run and getting a seven-yard chunk with Edwards again, with the same pulling lineman concept everyone knows is coming, but can’t do anything about it with Watt double-teamed, Richard, sealing Highsmith, and Spillane over pursuing and blocked to that side, along with Loudermilk, Heyward, and Alualu sealed on the back side for another big hole, with Bush staying clean to the hole and making the tackle. Dire third and four now, with Dobbins back on the field and getting the handoff, and finally Pittsburgh stops the bleeding with a nice play from Spillane to stay clean and accelerate to the ball, along with Edmunds working inside an Andrews block to combine for the tackle at the line for no gain. 200+ rushing yards in the game though led by Dobbins who just came back from injury, pain. The long drive took the clock down to 3:22 when Baltimore settled for the field goal to extend the lead to nine for the likely nail in the coffin.

2:24 left, down by only two now, have to get a stop. On first and ten, Edwards got the carry and it’s more of the same with a six-yard gain behind the pulling lineman again, and Richard aggressively pancakes Highsmith into the ground, with Edmunds coming from the edge contain and Heyward working down the line to combine for the tackle. Pittsburgh takes timeout #2. On second and four, Pittsburgh’s run defense showed up for a stop, with the interior, in particular, winning with Adams and Heyward, who pursued down the line, combined for the tackle of only one yard. Steelers take their final timeout. Crucial third and three, and everyone knows the run is coming, but confusingly Highsmith and Heyward both went for Huntley, with Edwards taking the handoff and following his blockers to the right where Adams was blocked to the ground, and getting behind Richard through another big hole for the easy conversion of six yards, ball game. Completely and embarrassingly demoralizing. The Ravens were then able to kneel it out and what a painful loss.

Let’s look at special teams:

PFF’s highest-graded special teamer was Marcus Allen (85.1), who provided a tackle, and five other players had 70+ grades: Tre Norwood (76), Maulet (75.1, two tackles), Jones (74), and Warren (73.9). The kicking game left much to be desired, with Boswell blocked on an attempt in his return, and Punter Pressley Harvin with an extremely poor 17-yard punt. Five (far) below 50 grades this week: particularly agreeing with Derek Watt’s 38.8 grade with poor angles and a missed tackle, Snell (36.2), Miles Killebrew (29.8), Pierre (28.4) including a penalty, and long snapper Christian Kuntz tying for the lowest grade of the week (28.4).

Boswell made his return from his last appearance in week seven, sending the opening kickoff to the six-yard line, with Derek Watt missing the angle on the return of 19 yards, where Miles Boykin and Kazee combined for the tackle. Sims got his first punt return early but goes for no gain with the coverage team struggling to block. Harvin got his first opportunity early as well, with a 46-yard punt at 10:33 that went to the 16, returned for nine yards with gunners Pierre and Boykin each blocked, Derek Watt missing an angle, then Allen forced him out of bounds. At 3:25, Harvin had a terrible punt of only 17 yards, traveling roughly 25 air yards with an unfortunate bounce between Killebrew and Jones before Allen could down it, yikes. This contributed to a Ravens touchdown, and the following kickoff went to the seven-yard line, and Sims enjoyed good blocking from Warren, Kazee holding onto his up the middle, along with Derek Watt, Connor Heyward, Jones, and Allen on a combo, and well as Snell up field to spring him for the 29-yard return. The offense answered with a red zone score to cut the deficit to three, and the following kickoff traveled to the one-yard line, returned for 22 yards with Derek Watt and Killebrew blocked, Tre Norwood and Allen close but unable to make the play, and Maulet credited for the tackle but lowered his head with poor technique allowing a bit of a churn.

Harvin punted at 10:57, falling inside the ten-yard line but another bad bounce, quickly into the end zone for the touchback before Pierre could get to it, and noted the Ravens arguably got away with a hold on him. Baltimore punted with 30 seconds left in the third quarter, going to the 42-yard line where Sims returned it, but another no-gainer where Pierre was hit for the holding penalty, costly with losing some of the ideal field position, yuck. With 11:19 in the fourth quarter, Boswell came on in attempts to trim the deficit from 40 yards but is unfathomably blocked by Campbell keeping the score at 6-13. Facepalm. The Ravens’ offense was able to milk the clock with the running game, and cap the drive off with a field goal to extend the lead to nine with only 3:22 left, which ended up being all she wrote for the game and likely the season. The offense was able to get into the end zone quickly, cutting the deficit to two with 2:30 left. If it were me, probably would have tried for the onside kick considering how the defense was manhandled in the run game, instead, Boswell kick it off to the four-yard line, returned to the 21 with Derek Watt and Kazee having opportunities but missed, and Maulet’s tackle taking a second effort. A painful two-point loss to say the least.


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