PITTSBURGH — Kicker Justin Tucker hit a game-winning 46-yard field goal in overtime Sunday to help the Ravens capitalize on a crucial late fumble and emerge with a pivotal 26-23 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After missing on a punch attempt against JuJu Smith-Schuster during the Steelers wide receiver’s first-quarter touchdown, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey jarred the ball loose on Pittsburgh’s second play from scrimmage in overtime. The ball bounced near the sideline, narrowly avoiding the grasp of linebacker Josh Bynes and Pittsburgh backup quarterback Devlin Hodges, before Humphrey scooped it up.
The Ravens (3-2) went three-and-out, but their drive ended at the Steelers’ 28 — well within Tucker’s range. It wasn’t a picture-perfect kick, but it was true enough. The Steelers won the overtime coin toss and made the rare move to defer, since a touchdown on the opening drive would have won the game. It worked, as Pittsburgh forced the Ravens to punt from their own 21 with 8:16 to go. But Humphrey forced the game-changing fumble two plays later.
The Ravens had to overcome a shaky game from quarterback Lamar Jackson and their offense to end their two-game losing streak. Jackson was 19-for-28 for 161 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and added 14 carries for a game-high 70 yards.
Running back Mark Ingram II was limited to 44 yards on 19 carries. Wide receiver Willie Snead IV had four catches for 51 yards, while tight end Mark Andrews had five receptions for 45 yards.
The game changed midway through the third quarter, when Ravens safety Earl Thomas III made contact with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph’s head behind the line of scrimmage as Rudolph scrambled. The whiplash left Rudolph (13-for-20 for 131 yards, one touchdown) unmoving on the field, knocked unconscious. He was not carted off, but the play left him concussed and forced out of the game.
So Pittsburgh (1-4) turned to undrafted rookie quarterback Hodges, who last season was playing for Football Championship Subdivision school Samford. His pedigree didn’t matter. The Steelers capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a 1-yard rush by running back James Conner that gave them their first lead, 20-17.
The Ravens evened the score on their next drive with a 26-yard field goal by Tucker. But after a Ravens drive ended inside the team’s 1-yard line, the Steelers edged back ahead with a 33-yard field goal after the Ravens.
Taking possession with less than three minutes left, the Ravens did just enough to set up Tucker. After their drive stalled at Pittsburgh’s 30, Tucker nailed a game-tying 46-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining. The Steelers were happy to send the game into overtime.
The game tilted heavily in the Ravens’ favor early on. Pittsburgh punted from its 16-yard line on the game’s opening possession, and the Ravens got a field goal on the ensuing drive. On the Steelers’ next play from scrimmage, running back Jaylen Samuels, lined up as a Wildcat-style quarterback, threw an ill-advised pass to James Washington under pressure.
Bynes, four days after signing with the Ravens, came down with an interception easily at Pittsburgh’s 15. Four plays later, Ingram scored from 4 yards out, and the Ravens led 10-0.
But the Steelers needed just five plays to go 75 yards to find the end zone, the last a 35-yard catch-and-run by Smith-Schuster. The Ravens promptly answered with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Marquise “Hollywood Brown,” but they couldn’t build on their double-digit lead. Two interceptions by Jackson led to Steelers field goals, and the Ravens entered halftime up 17-13.
Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: Hey, the rivalry felt a little watered-down in the days leading up, but we got another thriller for Ravens-Steelers. The Ravens were able to eke out a victory on the leg of Justin Tucker, but at what cost? The offense moved the ball but left points in the red zone. Safety Tony Jefferson left the game with a knee injury, and so did Marquise Brown (ankle) for the entire third quarter. The defense didn’t look any better going up against the Steelers’ second- and third-string quarterbacks and now have the health of their starting safety and defensive signal-caller to worry about. But a win is a win.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens did almost everything possible to give this game away, but the Steelers didn’t have a quarterback who could lead them to victory. Regardless, the Ravens needed this win, especially after losing to the Cleveland Browns last week. The Ravens still have a lot of problems, but the important thing is to win, which they did. It’s hard to win in Pittsburgh, and even harder when you try to give the game away.
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Childs Walker, reporter: In a game choked by overofficiating and bizarre turns of fortune, the Ravens escaped Pittsburgh with an essential AFC North victory. In the end, that matters more than their deeply uneven performance. The Ravens struggled to control Pittsburgh’s gifted defensive front in a mistake-filled offensive effort. Quarterback Lamar Jackson made a poor decision by throwing an outside pass deep in his own territory in the waning seconds of the first half. The resulting interception cost the Ravens three precious points. With wide receiver Marquise Brown hampered by an ankle injury, the Ravens again struggled to create plays down the field, and they could not make up for it by sustaining drives. The Ravens’ defensive backs did a better job keeping plays in front of them than they had the previous two weeks. But they still could not keep Steelers backup quarterback Devlin Hodges from moving down the field on key drives in the second half. Two clutch field goals by Justin Tucker (he proved again why he’s the best in the world) sent them home happy anyway.