PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver George Pickens with 77 seconds left, leading Pittsburgh to a 17-10 win and all but completing the Ravens’ second-half collapse.
Pittsburgh (3-2) scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to take its first lead of the game, and quarterback Lamar Jackson lost a fumble and was sacked on fourth down on the Ravens’ last-ditch drives to end any hopes of a comeback and a road sweep of AFC North foes.
Jackson finished 21-for-35 for 223 yards and added six carries for 45 yards. Several Ravens (3-2) dropped passes or missed golden chances for significant catches, but Jackson also had a costly late-game interception and the late fumble, a recurring problem this season.
After scoring a touchdown on their second drive and a field goal on their third, the Ravens didn’t score again. They had opportunities, but the offense had a turnover on downs late in the second quarter in Pittsburgh territory, as well as Jackson’s late red-zone interception.
Special teams fueled the Steelers’ fourth-quarter rally. Safety Miles Killebrew blocked a punt by Jordan Stout out of the back of the end zone, closing the gap to 10-5. After a solid return on Stout’s free kick, the Steelers marched 49 yards, down to the Ravens’ 7, before settling for a field goal that cut the deficit to two.
The Ravens had a great chance to put the game away. Outside linebacker Jeremiah Moon forced a fumble on a punt return by Gunner Olszewski, and cornerback Kevon Seymour returned it to the Steelers’ 9. But Jackson threw an interception on third-and-goal, leaving the Steelers just a field goal away from the lead.
That was all the opening that the beleaguered Pickett (18-for-32 for 224 yards and a touchdown) needed. His bomb to Pickens beat cornerback Marlon Humphrey, making his first appearance of the season, down the right sideline.
Big-money players need to make big plays
It’s very easy, very sports-talk-radio-y, to say the Ravens invested enough money in quarterback Lamar Jackson and their wide receivers that they should be getting more from them in games like this.
But, in this case, it’s fair and true. Jackson was outplayed by quarterback Kenny Pickett in clutch time. An ostensibly talented wide receiver and tight end room dropped ball after ball.
The defense deserves blame, too, after it couldn’t hold on late. But the Ravens had every opportunity on offense to put this game away. And they failed, over and over again. They’ll have to sit with that disappointment on their long plane ride to London.
— Jonas Shaffer, Ravens reporter
Only the defenses deserved to win the game. The Ravens’ offense dropped passes up and down the field and made puzzling plays. The Steelers’ offense continually missed its mark and ran the same plays over and over. Even the special teams struggled — the Ravens gave up a safety while the Steelers fumbled on a return in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ defense and the Steelers’ defense took turns terrorizing the quarterback and stuffing runs.
Defensive showdowns aren’t a new story for the Ravens this season or for the Steelers. However, while the Steelers’ story has been one of offensive offense, the Ravens’ tale has been one of an exciting if inconsistent new scheme. Things seemed to be looking up against the Browns as they bowled over one of the league’s best defenses, but it felt like the Ravens’ offense as a whole took a step back, from execution to communication, against the Steelers.
— Giana Han, Ravens reporter
Another letdown against a less-talented team
This game will feed into the “The Ravens and Steelers always play close games!” narrative, but what happened here is simple. As they did against the Colts, the Ravens simply did not execute in key spots, made too many mistakes and lost to an inferior team.
Baltimore had a clear chance to establish itself as the class of the AFC today, and it should have by jumping out to a huge early lead as Lamar Jackson sliced through the Pittsburgh defense. But too many drops and a Justice Hill fumble introduced doubt and the Ravens crumbled. The inexplicable play at the end of the first half — it seemed like they weren’t sure if they were going for it even after the ball was snapped? — carried over into a lethargic second half.
The Ravens have lost games to Kenny Pickett and Gardner Minshew while beating two rookies and a hobbled Joe Burrow. I continue to feel good about how the offense should function but, man, the vibes are very off with this team. Maybe they should just board a plane and head to a foreign country and try to figure this out.
— Chris Korman, editor