Here’s what the Baltimore Sun sports staff had to say immediately after the Ravens’ 16-13 overtime loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the regular-season finale Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium:
Jonas Shaffer, reporter: Calais Campbell distilled the Ravens’ doomed second half of the season to a few words after their sixth straight loss: “They made plays, and we didn’t.” Yet again, the Ravens came achingly close to finding a lifeline and a potential path into the postseason. Yet again, a stagnant offense and a depleted defense knocked them into back into the loss column. Safety Chuck Clark told reporters afterward to just watch how the Ravens bounce back from this six-game losing streak, but this season’s end will linger like a bad hangover.
Childs Walker, reporter: Optimism creeped into M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens looked poised to go up 17-6, and they were getting the help they needed with the Jacksonville Jaguars improbably beating the Indianapolis Colts. The Steelers had not moved the ball in chunks all day, and they could not stop the run.
Instead of finishing off a toothless opponent, however, the Ravens reminded us why they were scraping to keep slim playoff hopes alive. Quarterback Tyler Huntley threw a tentative pass that was picked off in the end zone. Then, the Ravens let the Steelers go 60 yards on 10 plays — just their second substantial drive of the day — for a go-ahead touchdown. The Ravens tied the game on a clutch 46-yard field goal by Justin Tucker and went to overtime, because of course nothing about this season could be easy.
You could spin the Steelers’ game-winning drive as a triumphant final moment for Ben Roethlisberger. But if the Ravens were a playoff-worthy team, they would have won. Instead, their injury-depleted defense failed to finish, and their backup quarterback looked out of his depth in an error-riddled performance. They lost their last six games of the season. Even if five of those came by a combined eight points, that’s no way to get in.
Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens should have brought in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed alongside Terrell Suggs for the pregame introductions. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is a Ravens killer. Enough said.
Ryan McFadden, reporter: In one of the ugliest games of the season, the Ravens couldn’t take advantage of the Jaguars’ surprising victory over the Colts. Running back Latavius Murray took advantage of the Steelers’ run defense, but quarterback Tyler Huntley struggled, making questionable decisions throughout the game.
Just like in previous weeks, the Ravens’ defense faltered down the stretch, allowing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to lead Pittsburgh down the field for a game-winning field goal in overtime.
Huntley’s interception in the end zone during the start of the fourth quarter is one to look back on, as he had rookie receiver Rashod Bateman open but instead threw the ball to tight end Mark Andrews, who was blanketed in triple coverage.
C.J. Doon, editor: A gutting end to a gutting season. Ben Roethlisberger drove one last dagger into Ravens fans’ hearts with a 10-yard pass to Ray-Ray McCloud on fourth-and-8 in overtime, which helped set up Chris Boswell’s game-winning field goal. The Ravens are officially eliminated from playoff contention, while Pittsburgh just needs tonight’s Chargers-Raiders game to not end in a tie to get back to the postseason.
Was there any other way for this Ravens season to end than in heartbreak? A stunning Jaguars upset of the Colts provided some hope for an improbable playoff berth, but it was not meant to be. The Ravens’ defense stood tall for most of the game and the rushing attack finally got going, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a lackluster performance from backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who finished with three turnovers. Given all the injuries the Ravens had to fight through, this season was doomed from the start.
Tim Schwartz, editor: Of course Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had one more dagger for the Ravens. A tough, injury-riddled season for Baltimore came to a most brutal, yet fitting end as Roethlisberger made sure his career would not end with a loss at M&T Bank Stadium.
This loss for the Ravens really felt like a microcosm of all their problems this season. Without an injured Lamar Jackson at quarterback, Tyler Huntley looked largely overmatched against the Steelers, turning the ball over three times and failing to carry the offense in a must-win game. Raven after Raven limped off the field in overtime. Yet, despite the hodgepodge roster and several failures on both sides of the ball, Baltimore led with three minutes to go.
A six-game losing streak after starting 8-3 is a hard pill to swallow for this prideful Ravens bunch, but 8-9 with the roster that took the field Sunday feels like an accomplishment.