Seven Sacks Propel Pittsburgh Steelers Over Baltimore Ravens in Week 13

Steelers Week 13
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The Pittsburgh Steelers knew that their Week 13 game against the Baltimore Ravens was going to be difficult. Baltimore has a great, young offense paired with sound defense. The Ravens also sported an 8-3 record before their showdown in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were able to spark their struggling offense in the fourth quarter, as they grabbed the game against their division rivals, 20-19.

Pittsburgh Steelers Score Massive Week 13 Win on Back of Seven Sacks

A Balanced First Half

The Ravens moved the ball well on their first drive. They had six plays go for 8+ yards, and it looked like they were going to be a problem. However, on a third-down play inside the red zone, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was pressured and chased after by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt. Jackson made a hurried pass and was picked off by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. The interception was Fitzpatrick’s second of the season (second in as many weeks), and it helped the Steelers halt a big drive.

Neither team could get much going on the next three possessions. The Steelers had two three-and-outs to start the game. Pittsburgh’s second punt by Pressley Harvin went for a booming 64 yards and bounced out-of-bounds inside the Baltimore one-yard line. However, the backed-up field position couldn’t stop the Ravens; they slowly marched down the field and got a touchdown on a ten-and-a-half minute scoring drive. Baltimore running back Devonta Freeman punched it in from three yards out to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead. 

Both teams punted on their ensuing possessions. With just about six minutes left in the half, the Steelers had only 41 yards of total offense. They really had a slow start offensively, but their defense kept them in the game. The Steelers were able to get a 52-yard field goal drive right before halftime, which made the score 7-3 halfway through the Week 13 divisional showdown.

A Back-and-Forth Second Half

The second half was much more eventful for both sides. The Steelers punted on their first drive out of the half, while the Ravens notched a 35-yard field goal to make it 10-3. The Steelers’ next drive was boosted by a 40-yard catch by Chase Claypool and an eventual 29-yard grab by Diontae Johnson in the endzone. Kicker Chris Boswell missed the extra point after Johnson’s touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger, holding the score at 10-9. The Ravens notched a 28-yard field goal on their next drive, and Pittsburgh answered with one of their own in a 43-yarder that kept the Steelers within one. 

The Steelers got the ball back with about six minutes left after a Ravens punt. They used a four-and-a-half-minute drive to get a touchdown. Again, it was a Roethlisberger- Johnson connection for the second time in the game. The Steelers went for two and converted it, making the score 20-13.

The Ravens drove down the field quickly and scored on a receiving touchdown from Sammy Watkins. The Steelers still led 20-19 before the extra point attempt. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh decided to go for two, so that if converted, the Ravens would win 21-20. 

Lamar Jackson took the snap and dropped back, but T.J. Watt quickly bolted towards Jackson and pressured him. Jackson delivered a throw to tight end Mark Andrews, but the throw was a little too far off of Andrews’ right hand, and it was dropped. The Steelers recovered the ensuing onside kick attempt and held on to win their Week 13 divisional matchup.

Great Defensive Line Play Boosts Struggling Defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers, as a unit, did not play exceptionally well against their division rivals. The team allowed 107 rushing yards and 256 passing yards to the Ravens’ offense. However, they did make big plays when absolutely necessary.

The Steelers front seven were able to sack Lamar Jackson seven times (for a total of 34 yards) on Sunday. T.J. Watt, the current front-runner for NFL Defensive Player of the Year, tallied 3.5 sacks on the day. He now holds the NFL lead in sacks (16) this season, thanks to his explosive performance on Sunday evening.  Watt also had three tackles for loss. Defensive lineman Chris Wormley also had 2.5 sacks against his previous team, plus two tackles for loss. 

In the secondary, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon each made big plays. Fitzpatrick led the team in tackles with nine, defended a pass, and had an interception. Witherspoon, who has had a rather slow start since being traded from the Seattle Seahawks, knocked down a potentially big pass had it been caught. Witherspoon was in disbelief that he didn’t pick off Jackson’s throw. But, he still made a great play that likely saved the game for the Steelers.

Roethlisberger, Johnson Show Off Their Connection Amid Rumors

The pair of Roethlisberger and Johnson connected eight times for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Diontae Johnson has quietly had a stellar season, as he is now eighth in receptions and ninth in receiving yards in the entire NFL. Johnson, a third-round pick out of Toledo, has evolved into one of the best receivers in the NFL

With Roethlisberger’s two touchdown passes on Sunday, he extended his streak of consecutive games with a passing touchdown to 25 games in a row. He really has stepped up these past few games, especially after the Steelers got down early in multiple games. 

It was announced this past weekend that Roethlisberger had quietly told some teammates that he planned to retire after this season. He was drafted in 2004 and has spent the past 18 seasons with the Steelers. In his tenure, he has won two Super Bowls out of the three he has taken the Steelers to. If this is in fact his last season, Pittsburgh has to try as hard as possible to make the playoffs and maybe even go on a run for their legend under center.

Where Does This Leave the Steelers After Week 13?

The Steelers still have a long way to go after their miraculous Week 13 win. Their offense has so much potential, but poor play from different units this year has slowed them down significantly. Their defense is well-equipped with some of the NFL’s best players, but they still have some issues. If the Steelers do fix their issues, they have the potential to be a dark-horse team for the AFC Playoffs come January.

The 20-19 win leaves the Steelers with a 6-5-1 record and has them sitting at third place in a crowded AFC North race. Pittsburgh currently holds the eighth spot in a seven-seed playoff system. So, they do have work to do in their last five games. 

Their next two games are against the Minnesota Vikings (5-7) and the Tennessee Titans (8-4). These games will be tough, but they are very winnable games and could put the Steelers in a good spot if they come out on top. The Vikings have an explosive offense but a very poor defense, whereas the Titans have a depleted offense that can be taken advantage of. As long as the Steelers put their final pieces together, they have a big chance to do some damage in the coming weeks.

Pittsburgh’s Week 14 game is against Minnesota on Thursday Night Football. The Steelers will look to contain Justin Jefferson as they continue their tough season.

Injury/COVID News

The injury report isn’t as crowded as last week’s, but there are some players still there after Week 13. Ben Roethlisberger and Chase Claypool were non-participants in Monday’s practice, but they have been taken off the injury report. A few notable names are still on the injury report, however:

Robert Spillane, LB: Spillane had to miss Sunday’s game because of his addition to the COVID list. Spillane is alright and was reactivated to the Steelers’ active roster.

Joe Haden, CB: Haden has had to miss each of the past three games, and his presence in the secondary is greatly missed. There is no more news on his condition, but given that he hasn’t been added to the IR, it seems he shouldn’t be out for the rest of the season.

Isaiah Buggs, DL: Little is currently known about Buggs’ condition. He was inactive for Sunday’s game, and he is still on the injured list with no official designation. 

B.J. Finney, OL: Finney hurt his back during Sunday’s game, and tackle John LeGlue stepped in for him for the rest of the game. Little is known about Finney’s current condition, or if LeGlue’s impressive performance will keep him as a starter on the left side.

Joe Haeg, OT: Haeg was announced to have tested positive for COVID-19. However, there haven’t been any developments in the past five days since he was placed on the reserves list. 

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