The Pittsburgh Steelers stopped Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson a crucial fourth-down play and held on for a 28-24 win Sunday that solidified their place atop the AFC North.
Facing a fourth-and-3 from the Steelers' 8-yard line with under two minutes remaining, Jackson gained only a yard on a quarterback draw before fumbling as he reached for the first-down marker. It was his fourth turnover of the game and seventh in two starts against the Steelers, who improved to 7-0.
Pittsburgh, which also had to survive a last-minute drive that Jackson took as far as the Steelers' 23-yard line, is two games up over the reigning division champion Ravens (5-2).
After trailing 17-7 at halftime, Pittsburgh took the lead for good on an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool midway through the fourth quarter.
The Steelers ended a two-game losing streak in the series despite being outgained 457-221. Roethlisberger was 21-for-32 for 182 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Jackson finished 13-for-28 for 208 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, two fumbles and 16 carries for 65 yards.
It was a costly loss for a Ravens team coming off a bye week. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who signed a $98.8 million contract extension Friday, suffered an ankle injury after outside linebacker T.J. Watt rolled up on him after a sack by defensive end Stephon Tuitt. After having an aircast put on, he was carted off the field as a crowd of Ravens watched.
The injury left the Ravens without their top offensive lineman and down two starters up front. Right guard Tyre Phillips also left with a first-quarter ankle injury and did not return. Patrick Mekari replaced him, while right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. moved over to left tackle, making way for D.J. Fluker.
But it didn’t seem to affect the Ravens' ground game much, at least in the first half. Against one of the NFL’s best run defenses, they had 167 yards, more than double what Pittsburgh had entered the game allowing (68.8 per game). With Mark Ingram II sidelined by an ankle injury, rookie J.K. Dobbins ran for a career-high 113 yards on 15 carries, while Gus Edwards had 16 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown.
The Ravens took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on a nine-play touchdown march capped by Edwards' 1-yard touchdown — the eighth running play of the drive. A 51-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to end the first half, which extended their lead to 10, came after a hurry-up drive energized by the running game.
The tide turned quickly in the second half. After forcing a short Steelers possession, the Ravens took over with a chance to make it a three-possession game. But they did not have the ball, or a double-digit lead, for long.
Jackson opened the game with an interception returned for a touchdown by linebacker Robert Spillane on just his second attempt. On his first second-half pass, he floated a pass that rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith picked off and returned to the Ravens' 21. Jackson finished the game with four turnovers, including a fumble 8 yards from the goal line after outside linebacker Bud Dupree got a strip-sack.
The Steelers made the Ravens pay. Tight end Eric Ebron had an 18-yard touchdown catch-and-run after a busted coverage to trim the lead to 17-14. After a three-and-out by the Ravens, Pittsburgh marched downfield for a go-ahead score.
Against a Ravens defense depleted by the ejection of outside linebacker Matthew Judon following a sideline scuffle, the Steelers had finished the first half with just 64 yards. In the opening 10 minutes of the second, they’d rolled up 102.
Daniel Oyefusi, reporter: This game gave football fans everything they expected, and then some. The Ravens came out of the bye week looking to start their second-half push with a big win over their archrivals, and for the first 30 minutes, everything that could go wrong did. The Ravens lost two starting offensive linemen, including All-Pro tackle Ronnie Stanley, to ankle injuries. One of their top defensive playmakers, Matthew Judon, was disqualified after making contact with an official during a sideline scuffle. Lamar Jackson was befuddled by the Steelers' overpowering front. Still, the the Ravens led by 10 at halftime before losing after a controversial final minute. Jackson particularly struggled with four turnovers, essentially spotting Pittsburgh 14 points and fumbling twice inside the red zone. Whatever grievances the Ravens might have with how the game’s final minute was decided, they’ll have to pick themselves up keep and moving against a tough November slate, especially with Stanley suffering what appears to be a severe injury.
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens more than doubled the Steelers in yardage, pressured Ben Roethlisberger for much of the afternoon and were again rock-solid on special teams. But if you don’t take care of the ball (or if you don’t keep your cool on the sideline), bad things tend to happen. After a week off, this was a game for the Ravens to reassert themselves in the AFC North race. Instead, the road ahead is now only tougher, especially with Ronnie Stanley potentially lost for the season.
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Childs Walker, reporter: Lamar Jackson did not play well enough to beat one of the best teams in the league. His two interceptions in Ravens territory created a 14-point handicap that could not be overcome. He missed routine throws and made unforced errors on almost every drive. Give the Ravens credit for turning to a punishing style that kept them competitive until the final seconds. All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley left with an ankle injury that could seriously damage the team’s long-term chances, but the offensive line played a tough game in his absence, paving the way for 265 rushing yards. The Ravens played well enough to win on defense, controlling Steelers running back James Conner and preventing Ben Roethlisberger from beating them over the top. Roethlisberger nicked them with short, quick passes in the second half, but the Ravens only allowed two sustained drives all afternoon. Outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson played particularly well. This was a classic Ravens-Steelers game, full of scuffles, odd incidents and momentum swings. Given Jackson’s struggles and the injury to Stanley, however, the Ravens no longer feel like a certain Super Bowl contender.