What a rivalry! In a game that the NFL flexed out of it's Sunday night slot because they expected the game to have little meaning and be boring, the NFL proves that there is no better football than the Steelers and Ravens. The Baltimore Ravens would win their most dominant game of the season 20-17 over their AFC North rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers
Absolutely no one expected the Ravens to win this game, including people in Baltimore. It was figured that the Steelers would blow out the Ravens terrible defense through an absolute dominant passing attack. Meanwhile, the Ravens were starting their fourth quarterback of the 2015 NFL season and were looking to use the game as a glorified preseason matchup to evaluate talent for 2016. Maybe that fear from the players is what upped their intensity, because for one of the first times this year, players from both sides of the ball were playing with heart and tenacity that was rarely seen.
Starting with a turnover on downs forced by the Baltimore Ravens on the first drive of the game, it allowed Ryan Mallett to lead the offense down the field. 15 plays and 75 yards later, the first points on the scoreboard were for the home team after Mallett found wide receiver Chris Matthews in the back of the endzone with a laser throw. The 27-year old former Houston Texan quarterback finished the game 28 of 41 for 274 yards, 1 touchdown, and most importantly, no turnovers. Behind a potent ground attack with Javorius Allen redeeming last week's performance, Mallett showed poise in the pocket and hit 7 different receivers on the day.
It is clear that Ryan Mallett studied and practiced hard in the 12 days as a Raven. Huge effort by the QB to show something here— Baltimore Beatdown (@BMoreBeatdown) December 27, 2015
The team would play with the same intensity and devotion throughout the matchup, picking off Ben Roethlisberger twice and sacking him three times. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees clearly had the gameplan of letting the Steelers offense do whatever they wanted on the ground, but keeping Antonio Brown and the passing offense under wraps as Pittsburgh running back De'Angelo Williams had 80 yards in the first quarter alone. But Pees kept fine tuning things, holding Williams to only 20 more yards throughout the rest of the game. Given the complexity and talent the Steelers offense has this year, it was absolutely the finest performance from the Baltimore Ravens defense in 2015.
The win gives the Cincinnati Bengals the AFC North crown and the New York Jets winning against the New England Patriots puts the Pittsburgh Steelers in a long-shot territory for entry into the postseason. The Christmas gift that most Ravens fans wanted has come true as it looks like both rivals will be sitting at home in January, while the Ravens are fighting for one of the top draft spots.