NFL Week 12 grades: Steelers get a ‘B+’ for Wednesday win, Raiders get an ‘F’ for meltdown against Falcons - John Breech
Pittsburgh 19-14 over Baltimore
Leading up to this game, there was a point where the Ravens went more than a week without practicing and from an offensive standpoint, they definitely came out and played like a team that went more than a week without practicing. The Ravens shot themselves in the foot early with some ugly mistakes, including a lost fumble and a pick-six thrown by Robert Griffin. The Ravens offense also botched a sequence at the end of the half that ended with them scoring zero points even though they were at the 1-yard line. Despite those errors, the Ravens were able to keep this game close thanks to an inspired performance by a defense that only allowed one offensive touchdown and a special teams unit that came up with a big turnover in the first half that set up an early TD. Third-string quarterback Trace McSorley also helped to make things interesting by throwing a 70-yard TD pass in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.
Amid outbreak, depleted Ravens surprisingly hang tough before falling - Jamison Hensley
The defense put the Ravens in position for the upset with three defiant stops in the red zone. But the offense couldn’t get enough out of the passing game with a hobbled Robert Griffin III to pull off the win.
Describe the game in two words. Near upset. Coming in for the injured Griffin, Trace McSorley threw his first touchdown — a 70-yarder to Marquise “Hollywood” Brown to get the Ravens to 19-14 with 2:58 remaining. But the Ravens couldn’t get the ball back from the Steelers. It was an impressive effort by the Ravens, who had a projected 35.5% chance of winning by ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Pivotal play: In the final minute of the first half, the Ravens drove to the Steelers’ 1-yard line and came away with no points. On second-and-goal, Edwards was stopped short of the end zone with 21 seconds remaining. The Steelers were slow getting off the pile, causing 18 seconds to tick off the clock before Baltimore was able to snap its next play with 3 seconds remaining. Instead of spiking the ball and take a field goal, Griffin floated the pass to tight end Luke Willson, who was unable to hold onto the ball in the end zone as the first half expired. Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who didn’t have any timeouts, had pointed at the officials for a delay of game penalty on the Steelers but didn’t get one as Baltimore went into halftime trailing 12-7.
STORY OF THE GAME
With Lamar Jackson sidelined with COVID-19, a combination of Robert Griffin III and Trace McSorley led a Ravens offense that averaged just 3.1 yards per play before a surprising 70-yard touchdown pass from McSorley to Marquise Brown late in the fourth quarter.
Griffin completed just 7-of-12 passes for 33 yards and an interception before leaving the game due to injury. The former Heisman winner also took three sacks and finished the game with a 28.5 passer rating. Griffin will likely finish PFF’s grading reviews with a sub-30.0 PFF passing grade.
Baltimore had two offensive rookies play north of 40 snaps against Pittsburgh on Wednesday night: center Trystan Colon-Castillo and wide receiver Devin Duvernay. Colon-Castillo wasn’t a complete liability in pass protection and failed to add above expectation as a run-blocker. Duvernay was largely an afterthought in the offense and caught just three passes for 20 yards in the game.
Ravens first-round rookie linebacker Patrick Queen has struggled for a bulk majority of this season, but his Wednesday night bout with Pittsburgh was one of his better games this season. He made more than five combined tackles and didn’t miss one on the night.
This is a game that should be remembered for as long as the series is played. But Ravens fans will remember it fondly only if it marks a turning point in their season. Without their reigning Most Valuable Player, without Pro Bowl players in all three phases of the game, without much momentum, they put a scare into one of the NFL’s best teams. But if the Ravens can’t build on it this December, it will all be for naught.
What I like: John Harbaugh’s team is known for its toughness in adverse circumstances, and it’s hard to imagine a more difficult obstacle than having your game pushed back nearly a week while losing huge chunks of your roster — including your QB, the reigning MVP — to COVID-19-related absences. Baltimore should still have a chance to play up to its potential down the stretch, as players begin to return from the reserve/COVID-19 list with potential gimme wins on tap against the Jaguars, Giants and Bengals.
Outlook: The Ravens’ best game of 2020 came way back in Week 1, when Baltimore routed Cleveland. This team has the potential to get rolling, but the fallout from the COVID-19 situation, along with struggles in recent weeks, makes that possibility a crapshoot.
I could see the Ravens winning five of their final six games — but I could also see them losing five of six.