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Ravens vs. Steelers: 4 game ball candidates

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens’ earned their second straight win in Week 14, escaping from Pittsburgh with a 16-14 advantage. In a predictable gritty, low-scoring affair, the Ravens’ rushing prowess and defensive takeaways won out.

This was Baltimore’s first victory against the Steelers since 2019 and ensures they retain their position atop the AFC North at 9-4. Who stood out from the winning effort?

Let’s run through some key performers below to hand out another game ball.

Roquan Smith

The All-Pro inside linebacker continues to assert himself as the season progresses. After a standout performance in last week’s win over the Denver Broncos, he stuffed the stat sheet again in Pittsburgh.

Smith finished with six combined tackles, a sack, tackle-for-loss, two pass defenses and a quarterback hit. He secured his first interception as a Raven and third of the season overall, too, in the second quarter. Mitchell Trubisky attempted a pass to Pat Freiermuth over the middle of the field and Smith jumped the route perfectly. For good measure, he weaved defenders for a 19-yard interception return.

That takeaway came on the ninth play of the Steelers’ drive and was deep in Ravens’ territory. They were threatening to either tie the game at 10-10 or score a go-ahead touchdown. Instead, the Ravens regained possession and drove 54 yards down the field to expand their lead to 13-7.

Smith was a force in the run game as well again, helping limit the Steelers to just 65 rushing yards on 20 carries.

J.K. Dobbins

In his first game back from a midseason surgery several weeks ago, Dobbins gave the Ravens a huge offensive lift. Despite being activated off injured reserve less than 24 hours ago, Dobbins saw a heavy workload and was the leading catalyst of a dominant rushing performance from the Ravens’ offense.

On the Ravens’ third drive of the game, immediately following a three-and-out and short punt by the Steelers, Dobbins ripped off a 44-yard run to set up a first-and-goal opportunity. He then punched in a four-yard score thanks to a strong second effort on the next play to give the Ravens their first and only touchdown of the game.

Even as he looked a bit hobbled on the run, that type of explosiveness is what the Ravens’ offense has been missing lately. In the second half, Dobbins had six more runs that gained five or more yards. He consistently churned out positive yardage on the ground and wound up finishing with a game-leading 120 rushing yards on 15 attempts.

Gus Edwards

While Dobbins had the Ravens’ longest rush of the game, Edwards should be commemorated for his performance as well. The “Gus Bus” was just as valuable in his own right in picking up crucial yards in the second half to help the Ravens sustain drives and control the clock.

On the final two drives of the game, Edwards had two runs of seven yards and two runs of six yards. He was the team’s offensive closer. Edwards’ six-yard conversion on third-and-three gave the Ravens the first down they needed at the two minute warning. The Steelers had no timeouts remaining, allowing the Ravens to kneel the ball and run out the clock.

Edwards finished with 66 yards on 13 carries, good for an average of 5.1 yards per carry. His success in short-yardage situations, especially on third down, has always been valuable for the offense. That was especially true today. This was the first time in what feels like forever that we saw the 1-2 punch of Dobbins and Edwards in prime form.

The offensive line

It’s hard to pinpoint one offensive lineman and exclude others, but the unit as a whole should be recognized for their performance in this game. Ronnie Stanley’s return at left tackle helped rejuvinate the Ravens’ rushing attack, even in the absence of starting right guard Kevin Zeitler.

Trystan Colon drew the start in-place of Zeitler and rotated playing series with fellow backup Ben Cleveland. Both players performed admirably against a stout Pittsburgh defensive line. Ben Powers continued his high-level play at left guard and had a crucial sealing block on the Ravens’ third down conversion on their final drive.

The Ravens surrendered two sacks and five quarterback hits, but rushed for 215 yards as a team. Down to their third string quarterback late in the game, the Ravens’ offensive line held up in a tough environment and was crucial to the team grinding out a victory.

Honorable mentions —

Patrick Queen: Queen had an interception almost identical to Smith’s on the drive after his occurred. He also had a near-sack in the first quarter, which ultimately Smith earned after Kenny Pickett escaped. Queen continues to make impact plays with regularity.

Marcus Williams: In his first game back from injury, Williams was his usual rangy, ball-hawking self. He intercepted a deep pass attempt to Diontae Johnson and covered a lot of ground in the process. He helped limit many big plays in the passing game.

Calais Campbell: The veteran continues to be both a defensive and special teams force on the line. Campbell’s blocked field goal in the fourth quarter was crucial, as the Ravens ultimately ended up winning by just two points. That play changed the game.


Who gets your vote for game ball recipient from Week 14?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Roquan Smith
    (72 votes)
  • 64%
    J.K. Dobbins
    (225 votes)
  • 0%
    Gus Edwards
    (0 votes)
  • 14%
    Offensive line
    (52 votes)
349 votes total Vote Now