Steelers defeat the Ravens in Week 12, but it wasn’t pretty

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers squeaked by the Baltimore Ravens in Week 12. Here’s why their win was less than impressive.

The Steelers did it; they advanced to 11-0 on the season. But somehow, this just doesn’t feel like a victory. Despite the Baltimore Ravens being down about 20 players this week and being forced to activate their whole practice squad, Pittsburgh barely squeaked out a victory against the most decimated team in all of football.

At first, it seemed as if the Steelers were going to run away with the victory. After forcing a three-and-out and recovering a fumble against Baltimore on their first two drives, respectively, Pittsburgh unsurprisingly stalled in the red zone, and Chris Boswell missed a field goal – which would be an sign of what was to come.

The very next drive, Pittsburgh forced Baltimore to punt on a three-and-out again, but Ray-Ray McCloud made a crucial mistake by not fair-cathing the ball and he fumbled well inside scoring territory for the Ravens.

By the end of the first half, Pittsburgh held just a 12-7 lead. This was incredibly fortunate because the Ravens had some terrible clock management right before halftime. Just one yard away from the endzone, they ran the football in the waning seconds of the first half, then took a shot in the endzone as time expired instead of spiking the ball and settling for a field goal. There was, however, some controversy around the Steelers and whether or not a delay of game penalty should have been called on the play before.

In the second half, the Steelers continued to dominate on the defensive side of the ball, but their offense apparently didn’t make any more adjustments. Though they ran the ball slightly better towards the end of the game, Pittsburgh would score just one more time in this contest. However, a huge missed tackle attempt by Terrell Edmunds brought the game back to just a five-point lead for the Steelers. Luckily, Pittsburgh controlled the clock when it mattered most to secure a 19-15 victory.

Steelers won, but why don’t we taste victory?

It’s true that the Steelers are now an 11-0 football team and still boast the best record in the National Football League. But this game really didn’t feel like a win to me. Pittsburgh shot themselves in the foot over and over again with turnovers, dropped passes, bad throws, and poorly executed plays.

Ben Roethlisberger made a couple of nice passes in this contest, but he did not look good overall in Week 12. He finished the game 36 of 51 for 266 yards (just 5.2 yards per attempt) with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. While these stats may not seem terrible, he made costly mistakes in big moments of the game. In addition, his ball placement was less than stellar as receivers often reached behind them to real in passes that could have gone for much larger gains.

Drops did not help in this contest either, and Diontae Johnson continues to be one of the most frustrating players in the league to watch. At one moment, he could look like the star of the show – reeling in a difficult catch and making defenders miss on the run. However, a few plays later he could have a crucial third-down drop on a beautiful pass (like the one we witnessed late in the fourth quarter on Wednesday).

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At the end of the day, a win is a win. But apart from another solid defensive performance again, there weren’t a lot of positives to take away from this game. Ben Roethlisberger and his offense need to get their act together if they want to avoid being embarrassed in the playoffs this year.