After three postponements due to positive COVID-19 cases from both teams, the Steelers and the Ravens finally get their chance to play Wednesday afternoon in a chilly Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are looking for their 11th straight win, while the Ravens continue to fight for a playoff spot after falling now 6-4 on the season.
The Ravens were forced to make many roster changes as several of their starters were placed on the reserves/COVID-19 list. After quarterback Lamar Jackson tested positive for COVID-19, backup quarterback Robert Griffin III got his first start since last season. Justice Hill got the start at running back for Mark Ingram who also tested positive for the virus. Tight end Luke Willson also gets the start for Mark Andrews who is also on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Griffin did not have a good start to the game as he threw an interception that was picked off by cornerback Joe Haden, which he was able to run it in for a touchdown to put the Steelers on the board first. Griffin was able to redeem himself after handing the ball over to running back Gus Edwards for a one-yard rushing touchdown to give the Ravens a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Steelers kicker Chris Boswell made a 25-yard kick and a 27-yard kick to put the Steelers up 12-7 at the end of the first half. Both teams’ defenses did a great job limiting the game to very few points. The Ravens defense only limited Roethlisberger to 36 completions, 266 passing yards and only one touchdown pass.
The Steelers were finally able to break the Ravens’ defense as Roethlisberger found wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for the touchdown as he danced in the end zone to extend the Steelers lead 19-7.
The Ravens kept their hopes alive after an incredible throw by Trace McSorley to wide receiver Marquise Brown for 70 yards to put the Ravens within five points of the Steelers. The Ravens were unable to stop the Steelers as they kept possession of the ball all the way to the end of the game to take the victory 19-14.
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Griffin did not have the game he wanted, only completing seven passes for 33 yards. He was later injured and subbed for Tracy McSorley who managed to throw a 70-yard pass to Brown for a touchdown.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was not impressed with the win on Wednesday afternoon. He said to the sporting news that, “We didn’t play well or coach well tonight.”
The defense was still impressive, only limiting the Ravens to two touchdowns, but their offense had many opportunities to put more points on the board that they failed to do.
Roethlisberger also added on to the Steelers poor performance, telling USA Today, “We’re happy for the win, but not happy with the way we played today, we didn’t play good enough. I didn’t play good enough.”
Besides the game today, many had speculations if this game should have even happened with over 20 players on the Ravens on the reserve/COVID-19 list. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media regarding the concerns over the game and believes he made the right decision for the postponements of the game.
“Let me be crystal clear, as we have been with our clubs since last March: health and medical decisions have and always will take precedence over competitive considerations and business interests …. We follow the facts. We follow the science,” said Goodell according to the Washington Post. “In the case of the Ravens, we postponed the game against the Steelers to ensure that we had confidence that the virus was contained. Our medical experts believe that they have now sufficiently traced the virus, identified at-risk personnel and that we can now safely proceed with the game today.”
Regardless, the Steelers took their 11th straight win and stay undefeated as they will welcome the Washington Football Team for an odd afternoon game on Monday. The Ravens now fall 6-5 and remain third in the AFC North. They hope to get many of their starters off the reserve/COVID-19 list as they will welcome the Dallas Cowboys for a primetime showdown on Tuesday Night in hopes to keep their playoff chances alive.