Regardless of circumstances, beating the Steelers is good for the soul, which was apparent with the postgame locker room and overall fan morale compared to the last few weeks. The Ravens are now 2-0 in games in which Lamar Jackson hasn’t played or was injured after going 1-5 last year.
It sounds strange saying this after a game in which the Ravens were down to their third quarterback, but the overall health of this team is looking better and better, especially if Jackson and right guard Kevin Zeitler can return at full strength sooner than later.
Watching George Pickens burn Marlon Humphrey — who labeled himself a “liability” after the game — provided some ammunition for fans who wanted the Ravens to draft the 6-foot-3 receiver instead of David Ojabo in the second round. Ojabo remained a healthy scratch and is still preparing to make his NFL debut.
The offensive line earned a game ball on a day defined by brutality, not deception.
Once Huntley departed, the Steelers knew the Ravens could only put the game away by running the ball. There would be no tricks, only trampling by one side or the other. Under these conditions, the Ravens, playing without stalwart right guard Kevin Zeitler, moved 57 yards over 13 plays and ate up almost eight minutes of the fourth quarter. Then, they clinched the game with that Edwards third-down carry just before the two-minute warning.
“That’s just a testament to the offensive line,” Dobbins said. “The offensive line was blocking so good, and I can only go as far as they go.”
Powers was the most obvious blocking hero on Edwards’ run, but there were others throughout the day. Trystan Colon, starting at guard for the first time in his NFL career, and Ben Cleveland, playing his first offensive snaps of the season, stood in for Zeitler. And we can’t forget left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury but lifted the entire unit as soon as he stepped back on the field against Pittsburgh’s top-notch edge defenders.
“Ronnie just … when you have him out there, you’re reminded of the level of player that he is,” Harbaugh said. “He does it all; he does pass protection, he does it in the run game coming off the ball, he does it pulling. You’ll probably notice that, too. He had a number of times he pulled around there. Right there at the end, he pulled around there on that last couple plays.”
If the Ravens come out the other side of this tense stretch as a legitimate contender, Stanley will be one of the leading reasons.
Defensive Notes vs Steelers Week 14 2022 - Ken McKusick
Roquan had a mixed-results day, but his big plays led the way for the Ravens defense.
After a difficult start to the game, Patrick came on to play well.
Justin provided pressure without much to show in the way of positive outcomes. The RTP was one of the worst I’ve seen and it was clear he was frustrated watching the replay on the video board.
Broderick continues to deliver effective penetration vs the run and solid interior pressure. He leads the team with 5 PDs at the LoS.
Honorable mention to Calais Campbell, Chuck Clark, Justin Madubuike, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Marcus Williams
QB Mitch Trubisky
The deep throw to Diontae [Johnson] that resulted in an interception, was that the call or something you saw as the play unfolded?
“Yeah, I wanted to take a shot downfield to Diontae. I thought he did a good job going inside. He was getting behind him and stacked him. We ended up hitting it later in the fourth quarter going the opposite direction. I just threw it a little too far, and I’ve got to be better with my eyes. It looked like the free safety had a jump on it. That’s why he got over the top there before Diontae did. Yeah, I wanted to go down the field, take a shot and was too aggressive, and could be better with my eyes.”
The one Patrick Queen got, was it just a good play by him?
“Yeah, kind of the same thing. I kind of forced that one. I think I was going to Pat [Freiermuth] again down in the red zone. When linebackers are depth like that, there’s probably somebody open underneath, so I’m going to have to go back and look at that one.”
Baltimore isn’t going on a championship run unless Jackson heals quickly from the knee injury he sustained in a win over Denver in Week 13. However, the more you look at the potential of this defense, the more you see a real road for this team to be a player in the postseason. There isn’t a dominant team in the AFC this year. There are only teams with dominant individuals or dominant units, such as Kansas City with quarterback Patrick Mahomes or Cincinnati with all its playmakers on offense.
The Ravens can be a scary team if that defense can play up its potential. In November, Campbell said this group had been growing up with each passing week and trying to establish its identity in the process. He said it had come to understand it can’t rely solely on overwhelming teams with talent. It must grasp the importance of never thinking it has the luxury of relaxing at any point. It’s a good thing the Ravens are figuring that part out, even if they’ve had to gain that wisdom the hard way.