Special AFC North Report: Ravens Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

A look into the Ravens-Steelers game on Thanksgiving night and what it means for the AFC North.

The Ravens and Steelers met for a classic grudge match on Thanksgiving night. The game had many playoff implications for both teams.

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7) vs. Baltimore Ravens (6-6)

The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Baltimore on Thanksgiving night to try and basically knock the defending Super Bowl Champions out of playoff contention. The Ravens looked to do the same.

It would start of well for Baltimore. After the Steelers were forced to punt on the first possession, Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith connected on a 54-yard pass that gave the Ravens first-and-goal at the one-yard line. Joe Flacco would throw a touchdown to Smith three points later, giving the Ravens a 7-0 lead and their only touchdown of the game.

In the second quarter, a terrible miscommunication by Steelers' kicker Shaun Suisham and punter Mat McBriar gave Pittsburgh a 12-yard loss on a field goal attempt, which would lead to field goal by Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker, the only points for either team in the second quarter. The Ravens led at halftime, 10-0.

In the third quarter, Pittsburgh began to pick it up a little bit. Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell would start smashing the Ravens' defense, including one 43-yard run that got him down to the Baltimore 8-yard line, which ended up being a touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders a few plays later.

After the touchdown, Emmanuel Sanders did this that somewhat disrespected Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens:


via 3.bp.blogspot.com

Ravens' fans didn't enjoy the dance, but they ALMOST enjoyed what came after.

On the ensuing kickoff after the touchdown, Jacoby Jones, the Ravens' dangerous return man, caught the ball in the front of the end zone and began running down the left sideline. He ran by every Pittsburgh Steeler except one: Head Coach Mike Tomlin.

Tomlin was standing in the white-painted area at the Pittsburgh 38-yard line, a no-no by any person that isn't an official, watching the kickoff happen on the jumbotron. As Jones came near the 40-yard line, it looked as if Tomlin put his foot on the field in an attempt to either break Jones' stride OR to trip him. The plan worked, and Jones was tackled by Cortez Allen almost right after he passed Tomlin.


via cdn3.sbnation.com


via twitpic.com

Normally, the antics would result in a penalty and possibly an automatic touchdown if the referees thought it was bad enough, but the officials did not see it and Tomlin was off the hook. The play was shown on the jumbotron afterwards, and fans in the building went absolutely crazy. Tomlin, on the other hand, stood on the sideline with a smug smile on his face, knowing he had gotten away with an illegal move that cost Baltimore a possible touchdown.


via images.ftw.usatoday.com

The kickoff return would lead to a Justin Tucker field goal, giving the Ravens a 16-7 lead.

On the next Ravens' possession, a 24-yard pass to Jacoby Jones would lead to a Justin Tucker field goal, his fourth of the night. Ravens led 19-7 in the early minutes of the fourth quarter.

On the next possession, Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers down the field, then Le'Veon Bell had a one-yard touchdown run, cutting the Ravens' lead to five points.

Joe Flacco would later lead Baltimore down the field after a 22-yard pass to Ray Rice, but the drive ended in another Justin Tucker field goal, tying the Ravens' franchise record for most field goals made in a single game. They then had an eight-point lead, 22-14.

The Steelers would get the ball back, down by eight. They needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie it. They traveled down the field, Ben Roethlisberger looking extremely well, as he hit Heath Miller for a 20-yard gain to the Ravens' 1-yard line.

Two plays later, Pittsburgh's running back Le'Veon Bell ran it in for a touchdown, or so everyone thought. Bell's helmet came off before the ball broke the plane, meaning the play was ruled dead and the Steelers still didn't have a touchdown. Both Jimmy Smith and Bell were hurt on the play.

On fourth-and-goal, Roethlisberger threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jerricho Cotchery to cut the lead to two. Then, Roethlisberger attempted a pass to Emmanuel Sanders for the two-point conversion, but it was dropped, giving the Ravens a 22-20 victory on Thanksgiving night.

Ravens' kicker Justin Tucker was named "Madden's Thanksgiving Player-of-the-Night," along with wide receiver Jacoby Jones.

AFC North Overview:

What's Next?:

Baltimore Ravens: vs. Minnesota Vikings (Week 14 -- 12/8)

Pittsburgh Steelers: vs. Miami Dolphins (Week 14 -- 12/8)

Notable Injuries:

Baltimore Ravens: CB Jimmy Smith left the game late in the fourth quarter with what looked to be a back injury.

Pittsburgh Steelers: LT Kelvin Beachum left the game with a right knee injury, Backup tackle Mike Adams left the game with a leg injury, and RB  Le'Veon Bell looked to have suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter.



via ESPN

The Ravens moved ahead of Pittsburgh after the win on Thanksgiving. The Bengals and Browns have yet to play in Week 13.

Baltimore Ravens: 1.5 games back.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 2.5 games back.

AFC Playoff Picture:


via CBSSports.com

The win on Thursday pushed the Ravens ahead of the Titans for the 6th seed in the AFC. The Titans, as well as all of the other teams in the AFC (aside from the Raiders, Steelers, and Ravens) have all yet to play in Week 13. The playoff picture may look much different after Sunday night.

The Steelers are currently 11th in the AFC.

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