Steelers at Ravens (-2) (o/u 35)
Steelers 16 - Ravens 13
ATS (Ravens -2)
Over/Under (+/- 35)
UNDER (29 Total Points)
Steelers vs. Ravens Recap January 1st 2022
STEELERS VS. RAVENS RECAP JANUARY 1ST 2022 - Once again, the Baltimore Ravens were thoroughly outcoached.
The Steelers' game plan was an assertive slap in the face of the Ravens’ offense.
It was the furthest thing from fancy as the Steelers loaded up the box with a six-man front, candidly challenging the Ravens to muster anything in the passing game.
And while Tyler Huntley did manage to connect with Mark Andrews for Andrews’ first 100-yard receiving performance since October, that was about the only thing going through the air.
Once again, the Ravens’ lack of a game-changing wide receiver reared its ugly head. Any respectable passing game would terrorize the goal line-ish defense the Steelers ran.
On the Ravens’ sole touchdown drive, Greg Roman employed a philosophy to throw only as a last resort. Despite Pittsburgh’s heavy alignments, the Ravens gashed them with their complex run schemes.
In true Ravens fashion, the drive fizzled out inside the 20 and another Tucker field goal was seemingly on the horizon. But the refs decided to smile on the Ravens and granted them a second chance on a ticky-tacky unnecessary roughness call on Cam Hayward.
Shockingly, it was Huntley who took advantage of the opportunity, hitting Isiah Likely for the touchdown. This drive marked the end of the Ravens’ offensive success.
Another Blown Lead
Halftime adjustments have not been the Ravens’ strong suit this season, which is part of the reason they’re known as a “first-half team.”
Roman’s run scheme fell flat in the second half and Dobbins’ 6.5 yard average dipped to a pedestrian 4. Without the aid of a strong rushing attack, the Ravens scored only three second-half points.
Even when Justice Hill ripped off a 56-yard kick return to set the Ravens up at Pittsburgh’s 40 yard-line, a quick three and out prevented Baltimore from cashing in on any points at all.
The Ravens’ final four drives ended as follows: punt, punt, punt, interception.
There’s no sugar-coating the fact that they let the defense down. Time is running out for this thing to get back on track, and right now it’s looking like all the responsibility to right the ship will fall on Lamar’s shoulders. It’s an unfair spot for Jackson, but it’s nothing new for him, either.
It wasn’t just the Ravens’ offense that got outcoached in this one. Baltimore’s defensive gameplan was a headscratcher.
I think Mike Macdonald must’ve gotten next week’s playsheet confused with the one he brought to the game because Baltimore’s defense approached this game as if they were playing the Bengals.
For as talented as the Ravens’ defense is, they cannot get home sending four. Despite this, the Ravens didn’t blitz Pickett a single time. Instead, they stuck with four D-linemen who managed to pressure Pickett 6.9% of the time, the lowest rate of the rookie quarterback’s season.
The Ravens’ light front also allowed the Steelers to churn out nearly 200 yards on the ground with simple inside-zone runs the whole game.
For as puzzling as the gameplan was, the defense did hold the Steelers to only 16 points, which should be enough to win a game in today’s NFL.
Playoff seeding doesn’t matter for this team.
To get where they want to go, Baltimore will have to beat the best teams in the AFC at some point, so who cares if it’s in the first round or the last. And it’s not as though the Ravens hail from some extremely warm or cold location that offers some vital home-field advantage.
Either the Ravens are worth a damn or they aren’t, and I’d like to know sooner rather than later. Baltimore isn’t going to get blown out in the playoffs, so a lucky bounce here or there could allow them to make a run.
Crazier things have happened to teams without a returning MVP and top-five defense and rushing attack.
Before we overreact to this game, let’s take a moment to pause, realize the Ravens were without their starting quarterback and facing a much hungrier team scratching and clawing for their playoff lives. Now the season hinges on our hero’s ability to get back on the practice field.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinatti Bengals
Sunday, 1/8 at 1:00 pm on CBS