Rapid Reaction: Pittsburgh Steelers
November, 28, 2013
By Scott Brown | ESPN.com
BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Pittsburgh Steelers' 22-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.
What it means: The Steelers' most heartbreaking loss of the season also dropped them out of contention in the AFC North. At 5-7, the Steelers probably have to win their final four games to make the AFC playoffs as a wild-card team. The offense started slow but finished with a flourish and the defense played well enough for the Steelers to win. Who knows what the outcome may have been had a tying two-point conversion pass not gone through Emmanuel Sanders' hands? The last of a handful of Sanders' drops allowed the Ravens to escape with a two-point victory.
Stock watch: Special teams cost the Steelers a chance to even their record and sweep the Ravens for the first time since 2008. A botched field-goal attempt in the first quarter -- kicker Shaun Suisham appeared to be on a different snap count than everyone else -- cost the Steelers three points. It also gave the Ravens a short field that they turned into three points. In addition to that six-point swing, the Steelers gave up a 73-yard kickoff return that led to a Ravens field goal. And Suisham's feeble on-side kick attempt sealed the loss for the Steelers.
Best foot forward: Fans booed lustily when a shot of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin flashed on the M&T Bank Stadium scoreboard late in the late third quarter. The pro-Ravens crowd had good reason to jeer the seventh-year coach and not just because of their general dislike of the Steelers. Tomlin had his foot on the field right before Jacoby Jones raced past him on the way to a 73-yard kickoff return. Tomlin should have been hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty, and the non-call turned out to be significant as the Ravens had to settle for the third of Justin Tucker's four field goals.
Worilds brings more heat: With LaMarr Woodley again sidelined by a nagging calf injury, Jason Worilds excelled again at left outside linebacker. The fourth-year veteran continues to push his way into the Steelers' future plans -- and perhaps Woodley out of Pittsburgh. Worilds collected two sacks and made eight tackles, and that was just in the first half. Worilds may have been the best defensive player on the field, and he now leads the Steelers with six sacks. Woodley, who can't seem to stay on the field, has five sacks, and he is looking more and more like a candidate for the Steelers to part ways with after this season if they can re-sign Worilds, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
What's next: The Steelers get an extended break before returning to action Dec. 8 against the Dolphins at Heinz Field. The Dolphins got off to a promising start but their season has been engulfed in turmoil since the allegations of locker-room bullying turned into a national story. The Dolphins, who will be 6-6 at best after Sunday, haven't beaten the Steelers in Pittsburgh since 1990.