NFL Week 14 grades: Cowboys get a ‘C’ for unimpressive win over Texans, Lions earn an ‘A’ for beating Vikings - John Breech
Credit the Ravens (9-4) for coming into Pittsburgh and defeating a team that had won three of its last four games. Making the Ravens’ win even more impressive was the fact that they played the entire game without Lamar Jackson and most of the second half without backup Tyler Huntley, who sustained a concussion. The Ravens welcomed back J.K. Dobbins and [Marcus Williams], who both made significant contributions to the win. Dobbins ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, while Humphrey recorded one of Baltimore’s three interceptions off Mitch Trubisky.
Mitchell Trubisky meets Baltimore’s defense. Roquan Smith deserves a gold star for his performance Sunday, sacking Kenny Pickett to force an early stop (and unfortunately knocking the rookie out of the game), and his interception of Trubisky ended a promising Steelers drive midway through the second quarter. That was just the first of a few key takeaways for Baltimore, which intercepted Trubisky three times, including a fantastic play in coverage by Patrick Queen, and a deep interception made by Marcus Williams, who slid over the top of a deep Trubisky pass intended for Diontae Johnson to wipe out another scoring opportunity for Pittsburgh. Those three turnovers kept the Steelers’ offense at bay just enough to allow Baltimore’s rushing attack to preserve its lead. When we talk about complementary football, we can point to this game as an example — even if it wasn’t all that pretty.
Next Gen stat of the game: J.K. Dobbins thrived against Pittsburgh’s defense Sunday, gaining 75 yards and scoring one touchdown on eight rushes attempted versus stacked boxes.
NFL Research: Justin Tucker’s 42-yard field goal put the first points on the board for Baltimore on Sunday, and also moved him past kicker Matt Stover as the Ravens’ all-time leading scorer in franchise history (1,466 points).
NFL Week 14 takeaways: Lessons, big questions for every game - Jamison Hensley
What to know: The AFC North-leading Ravens showed they can win in December without Lamar Jackson. They did so with their third-string quarterback playing the entire fourth quarter. Baltimore rolled up its sleeves and went old-school, relying on defense and its ground game. The Ravens picked off three passes inside their own 20-yard line and produced 214 yards rushing, including 120 by J.K. Dobbins — playing for the first time since a six-game injured reserve stint. It was desperate times, especially when quarterback Tyler Huntley left late in the third quarter with a concussion and undrafted rookie Anthony Brown was pressed into his first NFL game. This was a critical win for the Ravens, who had lost their previous four games when Jackson didn’t start. Baltimore (9-4) is now a 74% favorite to win the AFC North, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.
Who is starting the next game at quarterback for the Ravens? Ravens coach John Harbaugh might not even know at this point. Baltimore has two banged-up quarterbacks and faces a short week with a Saturday game in Cleveland. Jackson missed his first game of the season on Sunday with a knee injury and is not expected to return until the Dec. 24 game against the Atlanta Falcons, league sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Huntley, who was filling in for Jackson, then left the game in the concussion protocol after taking a hard hit on a third-down run with 7:26 left in the third quarter. The Ravens may be forced to go with Brown, who would make his first NFL start in Week 15.
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. The Steelers had two sacks and they hit Huntley and Brown a combined four times. There were times when Pittsburgh forced Huntley to leave the pocket early, but the Ravens dominated Pittsburgh up front, particularly left guard Ben Powers and left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Center Tyler Linderbaum and right guards Trystan Colon and Ben Cleveland, filling in for injured starter Kevin Zeitler, were successful in controlling tackle Cameron Heyward. Grade: A-
Inside linebacker Roquan Smith gets a lot of credit for improving the Ravens’ defense, but this group has been outstanding and has made both Smith and weak-side linebacker Patrick Queen better. Tackles Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington and end Calais Campbell do an excellent job of holding off or scraping offensive linemen to free Queen and Smith to run and hit. Campbell finished with four tackles and Washington had two. Pittsburgh had only 65 yards on 20 carries. Grade: A
J.K. Dobbins Breaks Out in Return to Lineup - Clifton Brown
Dobbins said he would have scored on his 44-yard gallop if he had been in better shape. However, there’s still time left in the season and from this point, Dobbins has big plans.
“It’s still not me all the way yet and I’m going to continue to get better,” Dobbins said. “Hopefully those 100-yard games will turn into 200-yard games. I’m going to keep getting healthier.”
Having Dobbins back puts an explosive element in Baltimore’s running game that it doesn’t have without him.
“I know J.K’s a beast. Did I expect what he did today? I really can’t sit here and lie to you. I did not expect it like that,” veteran defensive end Calais Campbell said.
“I told him he put the team on his back the way he was running. His vision, his stop and start, getting North and South – really making defenders pay every time he touched the ball. He’s been hungry just itching to get on the field. You see the heart and passion he plays with.”
Dobbins’ ability to cut and find holes gave the Steelers fits all day and kept Baltimore’s offense on schedule. Gus Edwards also had a strong day (13 carries, 66 yards), as the Ravens’ run game allowed them to control the tempo of the game.
“The running game is what we needed in this game,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “A bunch of running yards in that final drive. Gus too, the last two runs that he had. He came around there like a freight train.”