Pittsburgh Steelers inside linebacker and top tackler Ryan Shazier remains in a Pittsburgh-area hospital recovering from the scary spine/back injury he suffered in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals last Monday night.
However, Shazier was on the minds of many Sunday night at Heinz Field.
Many of the Steelers wore custom cleats with a picture of Shazier’s face on them and the words “#Shalieve,” which has become a rallying cry on social media for the injured player. The Steelers warmed up in shirts that had Shazier’s No. 50 on them.
Pittsburgh outside linebacker James Harrison, who was active for just the fifth time all season, came out to the field for pregame warmups shirtless, which is Shazier’s trademark. After introductions, Steelers defensive players Cameron Heyward and Bud Dupree held Shazier’s jersey aloft as the crowd roared.
Shazier had spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday, and reports have indicated that his career could be in jeopardy. According to an ESPN report early Sunday, Shazier is showing “gradual improvement” and doctors are “controlling and limiting his movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside.”
There goes that streak: The Ravens had gone two consecutive games without a turnover, but that streak ended abruptly early in Sunday’s game.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed his first five passes to lead the Ravens deep into Steelers territory on their first drive. However, on a third-and-4 from the Pittsburgh 30, Flacco inexplicably tried to hit Maclin deep down the middle of the field despite the veteran receiver being surrounded by three Steelers. One of those Pittsburgh players, former Maryland defensive back Sean Davis, intercepted the ball and returned it to the 41-yard line.
It was Flacco’s 12th interception of the season but just his fourth in the past seven games.
The Cleveland Browns squandered a 14-point fourth-quarter lead Sunday and were beaten by the Green Bay Packers, 27-21, in overtime. The loss drops the Browns to 0-13 and means that the Ravens will be at FirstEnergy Stadium next Sunday hoping to avoid the ignominy of becoming the first team to lose to the Browns this year.
The matchup surely will call to mind what happened the last time the Ravens faced a winless team this late in the season. In 2007, former coach Brian Billick’s final season, the Ravens were beaten, 22-16, in overtime by the Miami Dolphins in Week 15. The Dolphins were 0-13 at the time.
The Ravens are 8-1 in Cleveland under coach John Harbaugh with their only loss coming in the 2013 season.
Campanaro’s 8-yard reception in the first quarter was his first since Oct. 22, a span of six games. … Running back Alex Collins extended his touchdown streak to four games with his 18-yard scoring run in the second quarter … Ravens middle linebacker C.J. Mosley was active despite being questionable for the game with a neck injury. However, he struggled to deal with the Pittsburgh tight ends, specifically in the first half. … The Steelers’ inactives were Shazier, quarterback Joshua Dobbs, offensive linemen Daniel McCullers and Matt Feiler, linebacker Tyler Matakevich (shoulder) and defensive backs Joe Haden (fibula) and J.J. Wilcox. … Sunday’s game was the fourth straight in prime time for the Steelers. The Steelers’ highly anticipated matchup with the AFC East-leading New England Patriots on Sunday is at 4:30 p.m. This is the 11th consecutive year the Ravens and Steelers have played each other at least once in prime time. … Former Steelers Mike Wallace and Steven Johnson, a linebacker, were among the Ravens’ captains.