Gridiron Report: Steelers take down Ravens in nail-biter

Written By Anthony Cugini, Steelers Columnist

The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 20-19 in their rivalry game on Sunday.

The major talking point in the media is John Harbaugh’s decision to go for two to win the game, rather than to kick the extra point to tie it. With just 12 seconds on the clock, the Ravens had scored the touchdown that was supposed to tie the game. All they had to do was kick the extra point, and the game would likely go to overtime. Harbaugh instead decided to go for two to win the game right then and there.

Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson rolled right and looked for tight end Mark Andrews. Andrews dropped it as it may have been just a little bit out of reach, and the Steelers won. Andrews was wide open and probably had the two-point conversion if he caught the ball.

Though Harbaugh’s gutsy call has taken up most of the headlines, there was plenty more to this divisional matchup. The Steelers’ defense continued to stop Lamar Jackson holding him to just 253 yards passing and 55 yards rushing. Pittsburgh was able to intercept Jackson on the first drive of the game to take away almost certain points. Linebacker T.J. Watt brought pressure on Jackson, and he was forced to throw the ball up. Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick came down with it to give Pittsburgh possession.

The Steelers were also able to sack Lamar Jackson seven times. T.J. Watt finished with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Defensive end Chris Wormley impressed many as he finished with 2.5 sacks. Defensive end Cam Heyward continued his hot streak as he picked up a sack of his own.

Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon helped fill the void Joe Haden left as he was out injured once again. Witherspoon likely earned himself some more playing time as he made a potentially game-saving play when he undercut a deep pass to Andrews and deflected it away.

With the defense performing well, the offense needed to do their part. A report surfaced from ESPN just the day before that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had informed teammates and staff that this would probably be his last year with Pittsburgh.

Despite these reports, Roethlisberger went out and played phenomenally against Pittsburgh’s biggest rivals. Ben completed 21 of 31 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Roethlisberger made throw after throw to drive down field in the fourth quarter.

A big reason why Roethlisberger was able to play well was the stellar play by receiver Diontae Johnson. Johnson finished with eight catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns. The only blemish on his day was a dropped pass in the endzone though even that was a difficult catch.

Rookie running back Najee Harris ran 21 times for 71 yards. Most of Harris’ yards came after contact. Getting two or three more yards after contact is something that the Steelers have been missing in the past.

This win goes a long way as it keeps the Steelers in the playoff hunt. Pittsburgh improves to 6-5-1 on the season, which puts them a game and a half out of the division lead and just half a game out of a wild card spot.

The Steelers will have a short week as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings on Thursday night. The Vikings are 5-7 on the season after losing to the Lions on a walk off touchdown. The Vikings record is misleading as every game they lost has been by eight or less points. Minnesota’s elite passing attack may be short handed as star receiver Adam Thielen is unlikely to play after he picked up a high ankle sprain on Sunday. Let’s hope the Steelers can build off of their win against the Vikings.