The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens finally got on the turf last night, facing off in an NFL game that was initially meant to be played on Thanksgiving Day. Because the Ravens couldn’t remain disciplined enough to minimize the team’s COVID-19 risk, which ultimately resulted in over ten players and staffers testing positive for the virus, the game had to be rescheduled to Sunday, then Tuesday and, finally, to last night. The Steelers are happy to finally get it over with, especially since they have had to change their schedule more than once this season because of other teams’ coronavirus problems, and they walked away with yet another win to remain undefeated this year. However, even the team’s own head coach, Mike Tomlin, thinks it was an ugly win.
No decent coach in any sport will ever be satisfied with his or her team’s performance, always looking for ways to improve and make the team better. After logging a 19-14 win in a game that was full of turnovers and clumsy plays, Tomlin told reporters, “It was really junior varsity, to be quite honest with you. It was in all three phases. We couldn’t run the ball effectively when we needed to. We dropped too many significant passes, very catchable, makeable passes. We didn’t make significant plays in the special-teams game. Our kickoff coverage unit wasn’t good enough. We turned the ball over. We gave up big plays in critical moments on defense. Can’t have it.”
The Ravens had to bring in quarterback Robert Griffin III to replace Lamar Jackson, out due to COVID-19. In the first quarter of the game, he threw a pick-6 right to Steelers cornerback Joe Haden. The team’s troubles continued throughout the first half, including up to the very last seconds when they were denied a chance to get into the end zone from the one-yard line. If they had gotten in, the Ravens would have been in the lead; however, Baltimore made a few poor judgment calls that cost the team precious seconds and ended their chances.
The Steelers found a stronger Ravens defense than they had anticipated and struggled to move the chains down the field. QB Ben Roethlisberger threw a season-high 51 passes and racked up 266 yards; however, there were a number of dropped passes that made the game more difficult for Pittsburgh. Across the first half, the Steelers were held to just 12 points – six in each quarter – and didn’t add any points in the third. Only off a clutch grab by James Washington on third down on their last possession was Pittsburgh able to ensure the win by keeping the clock running and denying Baltimore a chance at a return.
The fact that a depleted Ravens team came so close to defeating an undefeated team has to give them something to be proud about. It should also give them motivation to keep pushing this season. They were supposed to play the Dallas Cowboys tonight, but that game was pushed back to next Tuesday because of the team’s scheduling issues. The Steelers, on the other hand, will need to hit the practice field and review last night’s game coverage to find out what they did wrong. They take on the Washington Football Team this Sunday, and can use that matchup as a chance to practice what they learn from reviewing last night’s game.