Joe Flacco was handed the ball 92 yards away from the end zone, with 2:16 left, needing a touchdown to win in Pittsburgh.
That’s a situation the Steelers defense would gladly sign up for every time.
On this latest Sunday night classic between the Ravens and Steelers, Pittsburgh wasn’t up to the task. The Ravens won 23-20 on Torrey Smith’s 26-yard score with 8 seconds left.
The touchdown drive that Flacco authored will shape the rest of the season in the AFC North.
It’s Baltimore’s division to lose now. They are a game ahead of Pittsburgh in the loss column, and they have the season sweep.
I love what the Bengals are doing, but they still have four games left against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. If the Bengals are still tied for first place in two weeks (after facing the Steelers then traveling to Baltimore), then the Bengals are right in the mix.
The Ravens can savor this win. There were so many incredible things that set up the victory in another Ravens-Steelers tilt that lived up the hype:
1. The Steelers threw the ball out of an empty backfield with four wide receivers on third-and-five with 2:37 left. The call wasn’t crazy, but it shows how little the running game mattered for Pittsburgh. They called 17 runs and 40 pass plays. That pass fell incomplete.
2. Pittsburgh was called for a delay of game on a planned field goal attempt on the next play. After the embarrassing penalty, they decided to punt.
3. After three Flacco completions, the Ravens faced a fourth-and-one from the Steelers 49-yard line with 1:06 left. With the game on the line, Baltimore moved Anquan Boldin to the slot. He beat William Gay for a ten-yard play.
4. Pittsburgh’s coverages didn’t make any sense after that. Steelers coordinator Dick Lebeau gave very little help to his man-to-man defenders deep.
Torrey Smith had his man beat for a potential-game winning score with 35 seconds left. David Reed had single coverage deep two plays later. Anquan Boldin was open over the middle the play after that, but dropped the ball inside the ten-yard line.
Flacco was dealing, but his receivers weren’t helping him out. LeBeau and the Steelers didn’t adjust, continuing to give Flacco chances until Smith held on for the game-winner after beating Gay down the sideline.
The Steelers have usually been on the winning side of these classics. The Ravens coaches are usually the ones getting questioned after the game.
After Flacco’s 92-yard drive, it’s clear this isn’t your typical AFC North season.
(Now all we need is Ravens-Steelers in January. Look for it to be in Baltimore.)