Takeaway Ravens vs Steelers Pittsburgh stays alive in playoff race

Takeaway Ravens vs. Steelers: Pittsburgh stays alive in playoff race thanks to Kenny Pickett’s late exploits

Ben Roethlisberger capped a stellar 18-year career by leading the Steelers to a win in Baltimore. A year later, Roethlisberger’s replacement, Kenny Pickett, led Pittsburgh to a dramatic last-minute win in Baltimore that kept Steelers’ playoff hopes alive.

A month after leaving the first Steelers-Ravens game early, Pickett’s game-winning touchdown pass to Najee Harris propelled Pittsburgh to a 16-13 win. The win keeps Pittsburgh (8-8) alive in the race for the AFC’s seventh playoff spot. The Steelers have won five of their six games after a 3-7 start.

Trailing 13-3, Pickett helped lead two second-half goals that ended in field goals from Chris Boswell. The Steelers defense then forced a punt before watching Pickett orchestrate an 80-yard drive that won the game and culminated with his 10-yard pass to Harris with 56 seconds left.

Pickett’s finishes from 20 yards to Pat Freiermuth and 28 yards to Steven Sims set up his game-winning touchdown pass. The Pittsburgh defense then finished the job when Minkah Fitzpatrick picked up Tyler Huntley with 13 seconds remaining.

Pickett was assisted all night by Harris, who recorded his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season. The Ravens’ offense was led by Mark Andrews, whose 100 yards fell short on nine catches on a points-contested night. The loss dropped Baltimore to 10-6 and 1.5 games behind Cincinnati for first place in the AFC North.

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened Sunday night.

Why the Steelers won

Pittsburgh overcame several self-inflicted wounds, including Boswell’s missed field goal in the first half and Cam Heyward’s unnecessary roughness penalty that resulted in the Ravens’ lone touchdown just before halftime. Both players made up for those mistakes in the second half. Boswell made his two field goal attempts in the second half while Heyward was part of a big third-down stop that established Pittsburgh’s game-winning drive.

The Steelers’ defense made several other big stops throughout the game. And while they struggled in the red zone for most of the game, Pittsburgh’s offense found the end zone when it needed to. Pickett, Harris and Jaylen Warren (who rushed for 76 yards on 12 carries) benefited from an exceptional performance from the Steelers’ offensive line that helped Pittsburgh amassed 198 rushing yards.

Why the Ravens lost

The Baltimore defense was unable to make a game-changing play during the Steelers’ last two possessions. The pass rush was not a factor at this point in the game while Baltimore’s secondary struggled to contain Pickett’s and the Steelers’ passing attack. Throughout the night, Baltimore’s defense also failed to slow down the Steelers duo of Harris and Warren, who rushed for 187 combined yards on 34 carries.

Offensively, the Ravens relied heavily on Andrews and JK Dobbins. While both players were largely effective, Baltimore’s lack of offensive variety helped the Ravens score just three points in the final 30 minutes of the game. It also helped the Ravens convert in less than half of their dozen third-down situations.

turning point

Trailing 13-9, the Steelers needed a stop by their defense to return the ball to their offense after the Baltimore defense forced a 6-32 punt. Pittsburgh got their stoppage they needed when Heyward and linebacker Mark Robinson combined to stuff Dobbins with 5:05 left on third and second games from the Ravens’ 44-yard line without a win.

The stop gave the Steelers more than enough time to mount a game-winning drive that saw Pickett go 5-of-6 for 64 yards.

game of the game

Pickett and Harris failed to score early in the game on a pass near the Ravens’ end zone. The duo were not contested with play on the line as Harris managed to pull down Pickett’s pass, which came after Pickett dodged Baltimore’s pass rush. The game-winning touchdown pass was Pickett’s second in as many weeks after throwing the game-winning pass to George Pickens on Christmas Eve against Las Vegas.


“I thought we really got a grip on each other halfway through and had some honest conversations and had the kind of focus that it took to finish the game and I’m grateful for that.

“I can’t say enough about our offspring [quarterback]. He smiles in his face. He’s always ready to be that guy in the moments we need him.” – Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on his team and rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett

What’s next

The Steelers will host the Browns in a game Pittsburgh must win to keep its playoff hopes alive. The Steelers also need a Jets win in Miami and a Patriots loss in Buffalo to have a chance in the postseason. Pittsburgh fell to Cleveland when the two teams first met in Week 3.

Baltimore will travel to Cincinnati for a game that will surely impact the AFC playoff seeding. The game can determine who wins the AFC North if Cincinnati fails to defeat Buffalo on Monday night. Regardless, the Ravens have already secured their spot in the playoffs.