Ravens lose late lead, fall to Steelers, 16-13, in blow to AFC North title chances – The Denver Post


Quarterback Kenny Pickett threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to running back Najee Harris with 56 seconds remaining to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Ravens on Sunday night, 16-13.

Pickett’s scramble and throw to Harris, who beat inside linebacker Roquan Smith in coverage, leaves the Ravens needing a Buffalo Bills win Monday night over the Cincinnati Bengals to have a shot at the AFC North title in their regular-season finale.

The Ravens (10-6), who finished with just 240 yards of offense, finished with one touchdown or fewer for the fifth straight game. They led or were tied for much of the final three quarters but, with quarterback Lamar Jackson still sidelined by a knee injury, again struggled to move the ball on offense.

Quarterback Tyler Huntley (14-for-21 for 130 yards and a touchdown) capped the Ravens’ last-gasp drive with an interception thrown into double coverage. Tight end Mark Andrews was the passing offense’s lone bright spot, finishing with a game-high 100 yards on nine catches. Ravens wide receivers combined for two catches for 18 yards.

The Ravens didn’t get enough from their running game, which had rolled up 215 yards in a 16-14 win over the Steelers (8-8) in Week 14. Running back J.K. Dobbins had 17 carries for 93 yards, leading a rushing attack that finished with 120 yards total (4.3 per attempt).

The Ravens now have to hope for Buffalo to knock off Cincinnati on Monday. If the Bills help out, the Ravens would enter a Week 18 winner-take-all matchup against the Bengals. In that scenario, with a win in Week 18, the Ravens would claim the AFC North title and a No. 3 seed, assuring them a home playoff game against the AFC’s sixth seed. With a loss, the Bengals would repeat as division champions, leaving the Ravens to hope for favorable results elsewhere.

The Ravens’ fourth quarter had all the expected drama of a prime-time rivalry matchup, but little of the required finishing touch. After running back Justice Hill returned a kickoff 56 yards to Pittsburgh’s 40, the Ravens needed only a little offense to set up kicker Justin Tucker for a field goal. They instead went backward, losing 3 yards and sending on punter Jordan Stout.

The Ravens forced a quick Pittsburgh punt and took over at their 36 on the subsequent possession with more than six minutes left. But Dobbins was stuffed on third-and-2 for no gain, and Stout came on for another three-and-out punt.

That set up the Steelers’ go-ahead 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. Rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett delivered a couple of big throws, completing 5 of 6 passes for 64 yards and the late score on the drive and finishing 15-for-27 for 168 yards.

The Ravens had stonewalled zone-rushing attacks like the Steelers’ all season, all but forcing Pittsburgh to abandon the run late in the teams’ Week 14 meeting (20 carries for 65 yards). But without defensive lineman Calais Campbell, sidelined for the second straight week by a knee injury, they struggled to clog gaps and shed blocks.

2021 first-round pick Najee Harris had 22 carries for 111 yards three weeks after finishing with 33 yards. Fellow running back Jaylen Warren, limited to 11 yards in Pittsburgh, added 12 carries for 76 yards.

The Ravens entered halftime with a 10-3 lead acquired through unconventional means. For most of the half, their run game had met resistance near the line of scrimmage. But, unwilling to test the Steelers outside through the air, they kept pounding, kept chipping away.

Their biggest help came late, on a Pittsburgh stop. On third-and-16 at the Steelers’ 22, the Ravens called a low-risk handoff for Dobbins, who gained 7 yards and created a minor pile in the middle of the field with 11 seconds left. Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was in the middle of it, pushing guard Ben Powers and left tackle Ronnie Stanely after the whistle. He was called for an unnecessary-roughness penalty, giving the Ravens a new set of downs and enough time for at least one play.

They made the most of it. Tight end Isaiah Likely won easily on an out-breaking route, and Huntley found him for a 7-yard touchdown with three seconds remaining. Huntley sprinted over to the sideline, celebrating a rare red-zone touchdown with a line of fist pumps from coaches and players, including Jackson and Peters.

There wasn’t much else on New Year’s Day to toast, at least early. Both teams settled for red-zone field goals on their opening drives, and Pittsburgh kicker Chris Boswell knocked a 48-yard goal off the right upright late in the second quarter.

This story will be updated.

Week 18

Ravens at Bengals



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