In a compelling and somewhat odd new chapter in one of the NFL’s top rivalries, the Ravens held off the Steelers 22-20 in Baltimore on Thursday night.
The win improves the Ravens to 6-6. At the moment, they hold the No. 6 seed in the AFC, pending the results of Sunday’s games.
The Steelers, who had a chance to sweep the season series with Baltimore, fell to 5-7.
The Steelers narrowed the Ravens’ lead to two points with a little more than a minute left in regulation on a one-yard Ben Roethlisberger TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery on fourth down. However, the Steelers’ two-point conversion could not be hauled in by Emmanuel Sanders.
The Steelers appeared to have scored two plays earlier when rookie running back Le’Veon Bell powered into the endzone from one yard out. However, Bell’s helmet was knocked off as he crossed the goal line on a wickedly physical play. Bell would leave the game and did not return; according to NBC’s Michelle Tafoya, Bell was being evaluated for a possible concussion.
Ultimately, the game may best be remembered for a long Jacoby Jones third-quarter kickoff return that may have been affected by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin standing just inside the field of play.
As Jones streaked down the Steelers’ sideline, Tomlin jumped out of his path and back onto the sideline. Jones, who cut inside, was tackled by the Steelers’ Cortez Allen after a 73-yard gain. The Ravens’ ensuing drive ended in a field goal.
“I don’t know if he knew I was there or what, but I’m like, ‘Is he going to move?’ ” Jones told Tafoya after the game. The returner added: “ . . . I still shouldn’t have got caught.”
After a first-quarter Torrey Smith TD catch, the Ravens feasted on a diet of Justin Tucker field goals. He knocked home all five attempts for Baltimore, which never trailed.
Both quarterbacks played well, with Roethlisberger throwing for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Baltimore’s Joe Flacco throwing for 251 yards and a score.
In defeat, the Steelers lost Bell, starting left tackle Kelvin Beachum, defensive end Brett Keisel, center Fernando Velasco and reserve tackle Mike Adams to injuries. Adams replaced Beachum, with Guy Whimper then having to replace Adams. Cody Wallace stepped in at center for Velasco on the Steelers’ final offensive snaps.