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Instant analysis from Ravens’ 20-19 loss to Pittsburgh Steelers

Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 20-19 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday at Heinz Field:

Jonas Shaffer, reporter: The Ravens (8-4) opened the season with an overtime loss to the Raiders in Las Vegas. They went on to win their next six one-score games, including an overtime victory against the Minnesota Vikings. So it’s not altogether concerning that the Ravens’ run of luck, or whatever you want to call it, reached an end Sunday. What is concerning is everything else: the mounting injuries, the presnap penalties, Lamar Jackson’s pocket presence, the defensive breakdowns. The Ravens entered Sunday as the AFC’s top seed, but they still regularly struggle to string together even three quality quarters.

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Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens outplayed the Steelers (6-5-1) in the first half but failed to capitalize on good field position. In the second half, Pittsburgh wore the Ravens down and controlled the tempo of the game with its no-huddle offense. The Ravens have to work with quarterback Lamar Jackson on reading blitzes and getting rid of the ball under pressure. He was sacked seven times.

Childs Walker, reporter: We can debate the decision to go for two all night, but good for John Harbaugh, trying to steal a victory with a well-designed play that missed by an inch. No one can win close and ugly every week.

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After the Ravens won their last two games by a combined score of 32-23, the grind caught up with them in Pittsburgh. They were again defined by Lamar Jackson’s flaws on offense. He cost them a golden opportunity to score on their first drive with an inexplicable interception. His slow trigger gave Pittsburgh’s pass rush too much time to reach him, and he did not compensate with explosive plays. Again, the Ravens dominated time of possession without much to show for it. Fans love to rip offensive coordinator Greg Roman, but this erratic performance was on Jackson first.

On defense, the Ravens stuffed the run for most of the afternoon and held the fort on third down, but they’re still allowing too many explosive plays without creating turnovers to make up for their lapses. They looked worn out at the end of the game, despite the fact the Steelers hardly had the ball in the first half.

The Ravens had a great chance to build a two-game lead in the AFC North, but this is not that kind of season. No matter where they end up, the path isn’t going to be smooth.

C.J. Doon, editor: That hurts. Give John Harbaugh credit for trusting his offense to get 2 yards to win the game, especially after seeing mistake after mistake for the first 58-plus minutes. But it’s usually the underdog that goes for the jugular at the end, not the team that entered Sunday leading the AFC. Stunningly, this win gives the Steelers some life in the AFC North race after they looked left for dead in last week’s blowout loss to the Bengals. This Ravens team is maddeningly inconsistent, but that final drive showed how resilient they are. They’re good enough to beat any team any given week, but they’re just as likely to lose, too.

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Tim Schwartz, editor: What a finish. Don’t second-guess John Harbaugh’s decision to go for the 2-point conversion at the end; as the saying goes, “you play to win the game!” That said, that extra bit of air on Lamar Jackson’s pass to Mark Andrews on the try could be the difference between a first-round bye or maybe something much worse. Time will tell, but for now, the Ravens have many issues that need to be addressed and are quietly 3-3 in their last six games. Jackson’s issue holding the ball far too long is becoming an ugly theme now, as he took seven sacks that were not all the offensive line’s fault. Outside of a 99-yard touchdown drive that ate more than 10 minutes off the clock and the almost-game-winning drive at the end, Baltimore had very little going offensively. This loss will hurt, but the Ravens were due for a result like this.

"We've just got to get in the lab and find ways to make things happen and keep our jobs going and try not to have sacks," said Jackson on seven sacks.
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