Steelers in danger of joining Ravens on outside for playoffs


BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens knew long ago they won’t be going to the playoffs this season.

They can take consolation in being the reason why the Pittsburgh Steelers may suffer the same fate.

Taking a respite from a season filled with losses and injuries, Baltimore upset the Steelers 20-17 on Sunday, leaving Pittsburgh in desperate need of help as the regular season enters its final week.

“It’s very disappointing because we knew that if we won this game, we would be in control,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said. “We just didn’t take care of business. That’s the most frustrating part.”

Pittsburgh (9-6) now must win at Cleveland and hope the New York Jets lose to Buffalo, or Denver loses its final two games.

“We didn’t handle the business in the stadium today so we’re left to look around at other stadiums,” coach Mike Tomlin lamented. “Such is life this time of year when you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.”

The Ravens (5-10) had lost three straight, the last two by a combined 69-20 score.

Making his seventh career start — the first with Baltimore — Ryan Mallett went 28 for 41 for a career-high 274 yards and a touchdown. Signed by the Ravens on Dec. 15, he was the fourth quarterback to start for Baltimore in a span of six weeks.

“Getting the start was awesome,” he said. “Getting a win was even better.”

The loss ended Pittsburgh’s 10-game winning streak in December and put the Steelers in scoreboard-watching mode next week.

Some things to take away from the Ravens’ win over their AFC North rivals:

NO OVERCONFIDENCE: If the Steelers fail to make the postseason, their critics will point to their inability to beat the Ravens, who won in Pittsburgh in October before completing their first sweep in this series since 2011.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who had a touchdown catch nullified by replay, insisted Pittsburgh did not take Baltimore lightly.

“I don’t think we overlook anyone,” he said. “It was time of possession, turning the ball over. We have to find a way to be better in that area, especially on the road.”

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and the Steelers did not force a turnover against a team that came in with a minus-15 differential.

“That’s our fault, my fault. We controlled our destiny, but we gave the ball away today,” Roethlisberger said.

HE’S MY MAN: Ever since Joe Flacco tore ligaments in his left knee and backup Matt Schaub was hurt in his second game as a starter, the Ravens have been scrambling to find a winning quarterback.

Although Jimmy Clausen started the last two games, Harbaugh refused to tell anyone who would start against the Steelers.

Mallett got the nod, and after his performance it became clear who would call the signals in the finale at Cincinnati.

“Ryan Mallett,” Harbaugh said. “Can I get away with one more week of not having to make an announcement?”

After a pause, he laughed and said, “Probably not.”

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT: It’s hard for a team to throw a different look at an opponent in Week 16, but the Ravens did a good job of mixing up long and short looks on offense to keep the Steelers defense on its toes.

Mallett didn’t go deep often, but he did so efficiently enough so that the Steelers had to respect the long routes. That opened up shorter passing lanes over the middle.

“They were completing shorter passes and got onto a good rhythm, and we didn’t get off the field when we needed to,” Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward said.

SPUTTERING OFFENSE: A conservative game plan enabled DeAngelo Williams to run for 100 yards and two scores, but the Pittsburgh offense never got into a rhythm.

“It’s hard to get anything going if you don’t convert third downs, and that’s a credit to them,” Roethlisberger said.

The Steelers were 2 for 8 on third downs — 1 for 5 in the first half. Baltimore, by contrast, was 9 for 18 on third downs, and held a 34:20 to 25:40 advantage in time of possession.

Pittsburgh scored at least 30 points in its previous six games.

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