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Ravens News 12/6: Rivalry, Inches and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 13 grades: Lions get an ‘A’ for shocking first win of the season, Eagles earn an ‘A’ for blowout win - John Breech

Pittsburgh 20-19 over Baltimore

Ravens D

The Ravens squandered a golden opportunity to take a commanding lead in the AFC North division race. Instead of a two-game lead over the rest of the field, Baltimore is just a game ahead of Cincinnati in and 1.5 games ahead of the Steelers. Baltimore lost despite controlling the ball for nearly 37 minutes. The offense largely went away from Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman after the duo gained most of the team’s 75 yards on the game’s opening drive, a drive that ended with a Lamar Jackson interception. Baltimore’s defense, after dominating Pittsburgh’s offense for three quarters, was unable to come up with a big stop during the fourth quarter. They provided little pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, who completed nearly 68% of his passes with two touchdowns and no picks.

2021 NFL season, Week 13: What we learned from Sunday’s games - Chase Goodbread

The Ravens defense was a tale of two halves. Baltimore dominated the first half in an old-school fashion befitting a Steelers-Ravens game, scoring only seven points but winning repeatedly on third downs, on both sides of the ball, for a ridiculous 23:30 - 6:30 edge in time of possession entering the break. The Steelers converted just four first downs in the first half and were 0 for 4 on third down, while compiling just 93 total yards. Even uglier, Pittsburgh had run just 10 offensive plays by the time it took over a possession with under two minutes left in the half. It was a trend the Steelers had to break in the second half, else their defense would not have had the stamina to hold up. QB Ben Roethlisberger helped turn things with a pair of touchdown passes to Diontae Johnson, one of which was set up by a 40-yard completion to Chase Claypool. The aforementioned running game helped a bit as well, but Roethlisberger (21 of 31, 236 yards) was the difference maker.

NFL Week 13 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 20, Baltimore Ravens 19 - Jacob Rosenfarb

Running Backs

Devonta Freeman thrived in his role as Baltimore’s lead back, racking up 97 total yards on 19 touches, including a rushing score midway through the second quarter. Freeman’s three forced missed tackles led all Baltimore ball-carriers, as the eight-year pro impressed as both a runner and receiver.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Wide receiver Marquise Brown paced all Baltimore pass-catchers with 55 yards receiving, hauling in five of his seven targets. Brown maintained his role as the Ravens’ primary downfield threat, leading all Baltimore wide receivers in explosive plays (2) and average depth of target (10.9).

Tight end Mark Andrews reeled in four of his team-high nine targets for 50 yards, finishing with a team-best three receiving first downs. The typically sure-handed Andrews suffered the rare drop in Sunday’s defeat, bringing his season drop total to just 3.

Offensive Line

Baltimore’s offensive line struggled to give Jackson time in the pocket Sunday, as the unit conceded 33 pressures and seven sacks in the defeat. Right tackle Tyre Phillips was especially liable in pass protection, allowing a team-high five pressures and one sack.

Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 20-19 loss to Steelers - Mike Preston

Defensive line

Pittsburgh has one of the top young running backs in the NFL in rookie Najee Harris, but he wasn’t much of a factor Sunday, even though the Steelers did start to wear the Ravens down in the second half. The Ravens got strong run defense from ends Calais Campbell and Justin Ellis. What won’t show up in the box score is how they kept guards off inside linebackers Chris Board and Patrick Queen. Few teams run against the Ravens, especially in short-yardage situations. Grade: C

Secondary

It was surprising that the Steelers didn’t challenge the Ravens more often with long passes. Not just go-routes, but scheme patterns off play-action fakes. Overall, the Ravens held up well as long as Pittsburgh continued to throw short passes, but at times they got lost on the back end. On the 29-yard touchdown pass over the middle to receiver Dionte Johnson in the second half, cornerbacks Anthony Averett and Marlon Humphrey both just looked at each other and hunched their shoulders after the play. Averett missed at least three tackles in the second half alone. Grade: C-

Coaching

The Ravens were well prepared for this game and played with intensity. The offense seemed to have the right plays in the playbook, but the coaching staff has to get Jackson back in his comfort zone. Defensively, the Ravens wore down in the second half, which is unusual considering they dominated time of possession in the first half. That’s not coaching, that’s just getting whupped. The Ravens should have just kicked the extra point at the end of the game instead of going for the 2-point conversion. Grade: C.

John Harbaugh Explains Two-Point Conversion Decision in Pittsburgh - Ryan Mink

“We were pretty much out of corners at that point in time,” Harbaugh said. “It was an opportunity to try to win the game right there.”

“It’s that close. It’s a game of inches,” Harbaugh said.“

Perfect play-call,” he said. “[I thought] we were going to make it happen. We just came up short. … We just didn’t execute. We weren’t on the same page right there.”

Asked specifically if he liked the play-call and the decision, Jackson said yes.

“I was cool with it. It was there,” Jackson said. “I want to win, for sure.”

“[It] was a good play call. I came wide open,” Andrews said. “Lamar threw a great ball; I just didn’t make the play. … It’s what we should do. We’re in a hostile environment.”

“We believe in our players. We believe in our team. We believe in 8 [Jackson],” defensive tackle Brandon Williams said. “So, the whole way, we had trust and belief in them. We’d do it a thousand more times.”