There are not many rivalries as storied in the National Football League as that between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens and usually, whoever wins that match up ends up being the top team in the AFC North. Pittsburgh came into the game on top of the division and the win today against the Ravens not only splits the series between the two teams but also puts the Steelers in pole position for the playoffs.
Red zone conversions the difference in the first half
Both sides could not be separated all that much in the first half but Pittsburgh went into half time ahead thanks to their ability to convert once they got to the red zone. After two punts by both teams, the Ravens marched down the field but could not convert and ended up having to kick a field goal after Joe Flacco failed to see a wide open Lamar Jackson in the end zone. Pittsburgh then also marched down the field but this time, found the end zone when Ben Roethlisberger through a seven yard touchdown pass to James Conner.
The Ravens were held to a punt by the Steelers defense again and the Steelers offense moved the ball well down the field to score another touchdown in the second quarter as Roethlisberger found Antonio Brown on a six yard touchdown pass. Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense quickly moved the ball as well after that second Steelers touchdown but once again, could not convert in the red zone as Flacco missed a wide open Michael Crabtree. Neither defense registered a sack in that first half but the Pittsburgh defense were able to put pressure on Flacco while the Ravens defense were ineffectual against the Steelers offense line.
The Steelers eat up time and seal the win
During the second half, the Ravens answered Roethlisberger's quarterback sneak touchdown with their first touchdown of the game when Alex Collins run for a yard untouched into the end zone. Unfortunately for the Ravens, after their defense held Pittsburgh to a punt, the offense could not convert enough third downs to keep the momentum with Baltimore.
During the latter stages of the second half, the game could have turned on its head when Roethlisberger went down with a shoulder injury as the Steelers were backed up on their own five yard line and were looking at a 2nd and 20. Backup Joshua Dobbs came in cold and found Juju Smith-Schuster on a 22 yard pass to keep the drive going. Roethlisberger came back into the game and led the Steelers down the field for Chris Boswell to kick another field goal and keep the Steelers ahead by seven. That play by Dobbs ended up being a game-changer as he not only moved the offense forward but also got the Steelers out of a hole. Had he not made that conversion, the Ravens would have had great field position and possibly tied the game. Instead, with time running out, the Ravens could not convert on third down again, ending their afternoon with just a 33% third down conversion rate, and the ball was turned over on downs with the clock at zero.
After a wobbly start to the season, the Steelers are now 5-2-1 and in sole control of the AFC North, all without the services of Le'Veon Bell. The Ravens on the other hand, after their fast start which included a win against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, fall to 4-5 and sit third in the division.
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 - 16 Baltimore Ravens
B. Roethlisberger: 28/47, 270 YDS, 2 TD; J. Conner: 107 YDS; J. Smith-Schuster: 78 YDS; J. Conner: 56 YDS, 1 TD.
J. Flacco: 23/37, 209 YDS; A. Collins: 35 YDS, 1 TD; W. Snead: 58 YDS.