With quarterback Lamar Jackson and several key starters resting, and the AFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs secured, the Ravens fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their regular-season finale Saturday, 17-10.

The loss at a rain-drenched M&T Bank Stadium ended a six-game winning streak for the AFC North champions, who have struggled in recent years against their division rival. Pittsburgh’s win, which kept its playoff hopes alive, was its third straight in the series and seventh in its past eight meetings with the Ravens (13-4).

The Steelers (10-7) took the lead for good on the first play of the fourth quarter, a 71-yard catch-and-run touchdown by wide receiver Diontae Johnson, who burst between cornerback Rock Ya-Sin and safety Marcus Williams.

With the Ravens preparing for the divisional round of the playoffs, the team rested several of its biggest names, including Jackson, inside linebacker Roquan Smith, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Kyle Hamilton. The Ravens also rotated heavily on offense and defense and appeared to avoid serious injuries, though outside linebacker Odafe Oweh (ankle), inside linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (shoulder) and safety Geno Stone (knee) appeared to take knocks. Defensive lineman Brent Urban also left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion.

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Neither offense was sharp. Quarterback Tyler Huntley, making his first start since last season’s playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, went 15-for-28 for 146 yards and a 27-yard touchdown pass to tight end Isaiah Likely. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Gus Edwards both lost a fumble. The Ravens averaged just 3.9 yards per play and went 4-for-13 on third down.

Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph, throwing mostly short passes, went 18-for-20 for 152 yards and the touchdown to Johnson, who finished with a game-high 89 yards on four catches. Steelers running back Najee Harris had 26 carries for 112 yards and a 6-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter.

Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen keeps an eye on Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph before the snap. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Pain-free finish

Do you know what’s worse than losing a meaningless game? Losing a meaningful contributor in a meaningless game. The Ravens gave several starters extensive playing time, but the few who left the game in pain shouldn’t be out long. The Steelers, fighting for a playoff spot, might not be able to say the same thing; star edge rusher T.J. Watt was ruled out with a serious-looking knee injury.

The NFL postseason can turn into a war of attrition, and the Ravens should be in far better shape than whomever they face in Baltimore two weekends from now. That good health might not last long. But at least it’s a good start on the path to a possible Super Bowl.

— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter

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Steelers starters are better than Ravens backups …

But not by much. To be fair, the Steelers’ quarterback situation is complicated. Mason Rudolph might be their second-stringer; he might be their starter. Either way, the Ravens didn’t lose this game because the Steelers’ offense overwhelmed the defense. They lost because the Ravens’ offense couldn’t keep up. And the offense was missing its most important part, not to mention several other key names.

Tyler Huntley might be a pretty good backup but, on top of being no Lamar, he didn’t have his most trustworthy weapons to work with. Gus Edwards did help on the ground, but Huntley didn’t have wide receivers Zay Flowers or Odell Beckham Jr. Other guys, such as Rashod Bateman, played in a limited capacity. It might feel bad to lose to the Steelers, but the Ravens can honestly take comfort from this game. Even with most of the starters sitting or limited, they held their own against the starters of a team in the hunt for playoffs.

— Giana Han, Ravens reporter

A rivalry loss that barely stings

The worst moment of Saturday’s action was the gut punch when Geno Smith looked for a few minutes as though he might be seriously hurt (thankfully, it appears he wasn’t). The best moment was when a slog of a game ended and a soggy set of fans could finally seek shelter. Very little was learned about either team. Jadeveon Clowney’s second-quarter sack netting him a $750,000 bonus was probably the most consequential play.

It never feels good to see visiting fans wave their Terrible Towels in glee, but even though the Ravens were swept by their AFC North rivals this season, they’re in the best position to get the last laugh and the Lombardi Trophy. The fumble fest to end the regular season won’t make the 2023-24 highlight tape, but that never was the point. Let the playoffs begin, and never let us speak of this one again.

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— Kyle Goon, columnist

*shrugging guy emoji*

Neither rain nor fog nor gloom of night could obstruct the view of this ghastly game. The quality of play was just as ugly as the weather – eight fumbles between both teams – and it said a lot about the Steelers, who desperately needed a win to improve their playoff odds, that they struggled to finish off a Ravens team deprived of their most potent weapons.

Just as only fools draw sweeping conclusions from preseason games, it would be futile to react strongly to the result of this game. We did not see the team the Ravens will put on the field in two weeks, nor did we see the game plans the coaches will deploy in a postseason matchup.

— Paul Mancano, audience editor

Well, that’s over

This felt like a bowl game between the No. 8 Big Ten team and the second-best Mid-American Conference team, though those are usually played in places where it doesn’t get cold and rainy. And then, sometimes, an anthropomorphized Pop-Tart gets toasted and eaten. I don’t think that happened today, but I may have nodded off a few times.

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None of it really matters for the Ravens. They just need to hope everybody made it through mostly healthy. This week, then, can be spent resting and getting healthy while Todd Monken and Mike Macdonald devise some new twists to their schemes. Meanwhile, we wait to find out who they’ll play next.

— Chris Korman, editor

Jonas Shaffer is a Ravens beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun. Shaffer graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Silver Spring.

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