Thursday, November 28, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Baltimore Ravens
By Jamison Hensley
BALTIMORE -- A few thoughts on the Baltimore Ravens' 22-20 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What it means: In a rivalry that has been defined by close finishes, the Ravens (6-6) came up big in a must-win game and took over sole possession of the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC. Baltimore ended the Steelers' three-game winning streak and split the season series with Pittsburgh (5-7). With their third win in four weeks, the Ravens closed to within 1½ games of the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals (7-4). Baltimore also evened its record for the first time since Week 6.
Game-saving stand: After allowing a 1-yard touchdown to Jerricho Cotchery, the Ravens broke up a game-tying two-point conversion with 63 seconds left in the game. Backup cornerback Chykie Brown had coverage on Emmanuel Sanders and didn't let him have a clear look at Ben Roethlisberger's pass to the end zone. It's the fifth straight meeting between the Ravens and Steelers decided by three or fewer points. This was redemption for a Ravens defense that allowed a game-winning drive in Pittsburgh as time expired last month.
Stock watch: Rising: Torrey Smith. The wide receiver scored Baltimore's only touchdown of the game when he caught a 7-yard pass in the end zone. It's his third touchdown in four games. Smith finished with five catches for 83 yards.
Where's the flag? Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 73 yards following the Steelers' touchdown in the third quarter. He would have run it back for a touchdown, but he was slowed by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who had his back turned to the play and was in the field of play. The Ravens eventually settled for a field goal on that drive.
Tucker for MVP: Kicker Justin Tucker is making a strong case to be the Ravens' Most Valuable Player. He kicked five field goals, hitting from 43, 34, 38, 45 and 48 yards, respectively. Tucker has made 27 straight field goals, which is the longest current streak in the NFL and second-longest in Ravens history.
Rough in red zone: The Ravens, who entered the game with the best red-zone defense in the NFL, gave up touchdowns on both drives inside their 20-yard line. Baltimore also allowed a one-yard touchdown to Le'Veon Bell. It was only the second rushing touchdown given up by the Ravens this season.
What's next: The Ravens wrap up their three-game homestand by playing the Minnesota Vikings (2-8-1) on Dec. 8.