Mistakes cost the Ravens a chance for a firm hold on first place in the AFC North
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens had a chance to take a firm grasp on first place in the AFC North with a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Instead, the mistake-prone Ravens allowed it to slip away, with the rival Steelers rallying for a 17-10 win Sunday.
“This is a tough game to lose just because you felt like you controlled the whole game,” Ravens tight end Mark Andrews said. “I felt like we could do what we wanted and impose our will and we still lost the game.”
Baltimore already has road wins against Cincinnati and Cleveland. A win against Pittsburgh would’ve given the Ravens a road sweep against the AFC North for the second time since 2002, but Baltimore committed three turnovers, including two in the final five minutes.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson finished 22 of 38 for 236 yards with a late interception that led to Pittsburgh’s go-ahead touchdown, a 41-yard throw from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens. Jackson also ran for 45 yards, but he fell to 2-4 for his career in Pittsburgh. He has seven interceptions and four touchdowns against the Steelers.
Additional miscues kept Baltimore from adding to an early 10-0 lead.
“We had them beat,” Jackson said. “Offensively, we have to find our groove. The defense played a great game, kept stopping them and giving us an opportunity. We just have to do what we do and finish drives.”
The Ravens were in Pittsburgh territory on their first three drives and outgained Pittsburgh 143-20 in the opening quarter. But the Ravens, despite picking up nine first downs and holding the ball for more than 10 minutes, only had a touchdown to show for it.
In the second quarter, the Ravens settled for a 23-yard field goal by Justin Tucker after end zone drops from Andrews and Rashod Bateman. The Ravens also had key drops later in the game from Nelson Agholor and Zay Flowers.
“We don’t expect our guys to drop passes,” Jackson said. “It happens in NFL football. It just happened at the wrong time. We’re going to get better.”
The Ravens led 10-3 late in the second quarter and they were driving when a miscommunication prevented them from adding another Tucker field goal.
On fourth-and-2 from the Pittsburgh 23, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the plan was to run down the play clock, call a timeout and kick a field goal. Center Tyler Linderbaum thought a Steeler jumped offside, so he snapped the ball to Jackson, who threw an incomplete pass, and the Ravens missed out on extending their lead.
“Guys thought they were in the neutral zone and went ahead and snapped it,” Harbaugh said. “That wasn’t what we were planning on doing. You could see Lamar was surprised by the snap.”
The Ravens entered the game leading the league in red zone efficiency with one of the top rushing attacks, but they were unable finish the Steelers during goal-to-go situations, particularly in the fourth.
“We made the play calls that we made,” Harbaugh said. “They were things that we thought were going to get us into the end zone. That’s what we were trying to do.”
Jackson fumbled on the Ravens’ penultimate possession, and Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt picked up the loose ball. Boswell’s third field goal put Pittsburgh ahead by a touchdown and Baltimore’s final drive ended when Watt sacked Jackson with 15 seconds to play.
“It was a disappointing loss,” Harbaugh said. “We had our opportunities. You have to finish plays and do things like that to win a game like this.”