The Steelers get another AFC North rival after last week’s slugfest with the Bengals.
The Steelers and Ravens, one of the best rivalries in the NFL, takes center stage on Sunday night. With a win, Pittsburgh can clinch the division and become the first team in the AFC to punch its ticket to the playoffs.
The Steelers honored Ryan Shazier, who underwent spinal stabilization surgery earlier in the week, before the game.
Follow along with us for the updates.
Steelers 14, Ravens 0: Once again, it’s Le’Veon Bell in the end zone, this time a rushing TD. The Steelers were aided, in part, by a questionable pass interference call on the play before:
That’s clean. That is a clean attack on the ball.
— Baltimore Beatdown (@BMoreBeatdown) December 11, 2017
JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is serving a one-game suspension for his hit against Vontaze Burfict last week, is in the zone as he’s watching from home:
Let’s gooooooo boysssssss!!! Suspended But Still Strapped Up Ready To Go! RT for #FreeJuJu #TeamJuJu pic.twitter.com/SvrkPqakRY
— JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) December 11, 2017
First quarter: Steelers 7, Ravens 0
Steelers 7, Ravens 0: The interception paid off for the Steelers, who went 59 yards on a touchdown drive. Ben Roethlisberger connected with Le’Veon Bell, who took it 20 yards for the first points of the game.
Steelers 0, Ravens 0: On the opening kickoff, Roosevelt Nix paid tribute to Ryan Shazier after making the tackle:
Baltimore moved the ball well, but the drive ended when Joe Flacco threw a pick to Sean Davis.
Before the game
This week’s Sunday Night Football matchup is an AFC North grudge match, with the Pittsburgh Steelers taking on the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh will look to finish a season sweep of Baltimore and can clinch the division title with a win. The game kicks at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC (live streams at NBC Sports and FuboTV).
Pittsburgh improved to 10-2 after an ugly, violent game against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, which turned into a war of attrition by the end. The Steelers’ biggest loss was star linebacker Ryan Shazier, who is out with a spinal injury that required surgery. They’ll also be without JuJu Smith-Schuster, who got suspended one game for a cheap shot on Vontaze Burfict.
Yet despite those setbacks, the Steelers still have a potent offense and strong defense, with Antonio Brown continuing to light up the scoreboard. He entered Week 14 leading the league in receptions (88), yards (1,296), and touchdowns (nine). The Ravens will be hard-pressed to slow him down, especially after losing top cornerback Jimmy Smith to a torn Achilles.
Baltimore is 7-5 and in the driver’s seat for a wild card spot, despite a poor offense and legitimately bad play from Joe Flacco. When these teams last met in Week 4, the Steelers handled them pretty easily in a 26-9 win, with Le’Veon Bell scoring two touchdowns and racking up 144 yards on the ground.
The Ravens still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record this season, dropping games to the Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and Tennessee Titans. But their schedule gets pretty friendly after this week, with games against the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, and Bengals to close out the regular season. So even if the Ravens get swept by the Steelers and lose the AFC North race, they’re still well-positioned to earn a playoff spot — for better or worse.
- Geoff Schwartz pinpoints the Ravens as a team that could be dangerous in the playoffs.
The Ravens compare more closely to the 2015 Broncos. Excellent defense — still not as good as those Broncos — and an offense that just gets it done. That worries me. If you look back many years, there hasn’t been a Super Bowl offense with such a poor offensive yards per play (just 4.5 yards for the Ravens). Even the 2015 Broncos were middle of the road in offensive yards per play.
If the Ravens can’t move the ball at New England, Tom Brady will find a way to score. Same goes against the Steelers, who the Ravens lost to in Week 4. Their rematch this weekend will tell me plenty about their prospects for a deep playoff run.
- Behind The Steel Curtain reflects on the positive notes of last week’s chaotic Steelers win.
After Smith-Schuster de-cleated Burfict, he stood over No. 55 long enough to draw a penalty. If there was one player on the Steelers’ offense who wouldn’t be rushing over to get Smith-Schuster off of Burfict, you would think it would be David DeCastro. DeCastro has been open about his disdain for Burfict, and the two have had their share of run-ins throughout their time meeting up on the gridiron. However, it was DeCastro who was trying to get Smith-Schuster away from Burfict, likely to avoid a penalty for the Steelers trying to win a game. DeCastro is one of those leaders who might not say much, but leads by example.
- Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak is a name to watch for coaching vacancies this year.
Munchak has everything an owner would want in a head coach. He was a Hall of Fame player, has head coaching experience, is loyal to a franchise and has done a tremendous job turning the Steelers’ offensive line into one of the best units in all of football.
Someone tell me why Munchak shouldn’t be getting some interviews? The only reason I can fathom for him not being considered for some of these potential openings would be if he simply doesn’t want to be a head coach anymore.
- The last time the Ravens got swept by the Steelers was in 2008.
So here we are, with the Ravens hoping to avoid a season sweep in Pittsburgh on Sunday night football. Both sides are basically locked in to the playoffs, with Pittsburgh expected to win the division and Baltimore almost assured of a wild card spot. Nevertheless, the result will impact postseason seeding at a minimum.
Can the Ravens keep pace with the Steelers explosive offense? Probably not, they will likely have to rely on their opportunistic defense and superior special teams to make impact plays. No matter the outcome, the game will produce some memorable moments. Buckle up for another installment of the greatest rivalry in professional football.