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#ColumnNes The purple renegades answered the song with heroics in Pittsburgh

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PITTSBURGH – As the infectious Latin beat of “Pepas” by Farruko turned the Baltimore Ravens clubhouse into an impromptu dancehall party with players in various states of dress and undress dancing soca style in the visiting locker room at the former Heinz Field, the members of the 9-4 AFC North leaders talked about resiliency and sticking together.

And why not?

They’d just survived another patented, hideous win over their arch rivals played out with a third-string quarterback that 98% of the fanbase had never heard of before orchestrating what an ebullient head coach John Harbaugh would later say would “go down in history as one of the great drives in this rivalry.”

No Lamar Jackson. No Tyler “Snoop” Huntley. No problem.

Behind the calm of a suddenly effective running attack, little known third-string rookie quarterback Anthony Brown showed the poise and command to do what hasn’t been done in a long time in Pittsburgh – finish a victory, even it it wasn’t pretty.

And you thought he was a failed Gubernatorial candidate who just won the state’s Attorney General election? No, no, this is the other Anthony Brown! The kid from Jersey who went from Boston College to Oregon and now into the cockpit of a playoff bound team to general a game-winning drive in less-than-hospitable Pittsburgh.

When Tommy Shaw of Styx starts the “Oh, mama” refrain of “Renegade,” it usually provides a spark of life for the black and gold faithful that spills from the stands and Terrible Towels onto the grass. The Steelers even exhumed Wiz Khalifa to sing that horrific song at halftime – and it still didn’t matter! (Where is Donnie Iris when you need him?)

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Instead, it was the Ravens’ offense that decided the jig was up and the news was out that Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are back in the lineup and ready to salt an unlikely win on the ground that Mitch Trubisky did his best to offer them in the air.

Of course if you were watching the 16-14 win at home – or littered amongst the many empty bright yellow seats here on a December day – it looked more like two bad teams than one 9-4 team destined for the playoffs and the other team an also ran, shell-of-itself-after-Ben rebuilding project in the AFC North.

But when the third-string rookie quarterback is beating the other team’s second-string veteran quarterback (who graciously gifted three interceptions to the Ravens secondary), it’s only about finding a way to win. And the Ravens did.

We will not be giving style points after this one – and never do in Pittsburgh. It’s never, ever easy to win at the confluence of these three rivers. And the Ravens won a “need” game as a two-point underdog on the road in the AFC North against their division rival, offering a pair of quarterbacks in Huntley and Brown that they didn’t want to play with under any circumstance this season.

Lamar Jackson was present on the field and in the visiting locker room celebration surveying his teammates ability to savor a victory he didn’t participate in but even John Harbaugh was dancing madly with a large group of players outside his temporary corner office as the booming, Puerto Rican-style party roared on in Pittsburgh.

It helped that the man that the Chicago Bears gave up on continued his propensity to drive and die. Mitch Trubisky is a giver. Here a pick. There a pick. Everywhere a pick, pick.

And by the time the fourth quarter rolled around and Steelers kicker Chris Boswell was getting a field goal blocked by Calais Campbell that might’ve won the game, any thoughts of young rookie Pitt local-boy-done-good Kenny Pickett were long gone.

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And the Ravens’ starter-by-need Tyler Huntley ended his afternoon prematurely and abruptly by running into a vicious tackle in the middle of the field and getting leveled in a way we’ve never seen Lamar Jackson get hit in nearly five seasons.

Harbaugh talked about heroes and heroics and there were plenty of game balls in the Ravens locker room to distribute.

A nice pick by Patrick Queen. Another by Roquan Smith. Even Marcus Williams got under one after missing a significant amount of time as a key, offseason free agent acquisition who has had trouble getting on the field.

And a nice return to significance for Dobbins, Edwards and Stanley to put the ground offense in some kind of position to eat clock and run the ball, which they finally did in the fourth quarter in a mammoth, nearly 8-minute drive that would give the Ravens an unlikely division victory on the road as an underdog.

Who knows if Snoop Huntley will be ready by Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, where the Ravens are a 2 1/2 point underdog again, but there was a lot of post-game confidence in the calm of the former Oregon signal caller whose namesake is now more than a former Maryland gubernatorial candidate.

There were game balls and an extended post game huddle for the team and an unlikely cast earning their first win in Pittsburgh. Queen was winless in Da ‘Burgh before Sunday and expressed relief. Kicker Justin Tucker, who is now the grey beard of the franchise as the remaining member of Super Bowl XLVII memories a decade ago, gave a pre-game speech that reiterated that you’re not really a Raven until you beat the Steelers. And a few youngsters like Tyler Linderbaum and Kyle Hamilton can say they’ve never lost in Pittsburgh.

To be clear, 53 guys earned their purple stripes on Sunday at Acrisure Stadium against the worst team Mike Tomlin has had in 15 years in Pittsburgh. And they were one third-down stop or a Calais Campbell finger away from stealing the game from the Ravens, who are really struggling to score points.

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And, as much as we can praise the defense for making a few big, “heroic” plays, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters were less than good enough against the Steelers’ crafty receivers. And the pass rush certainly is leaving much to be desired as the aging defensive corps goes through another December.

We’ve always known that the Ravens have enough overall talent to be a factor in January. Other than Lamar Jackson, the franchise has seemed to get almost every available player not named Rashod Bateman back at this key time of the playoff drive for a division title.

My partner Luke Jones called this a “soul soothing” victory for the franchise.

And given the stakes and the Steelers’ pedigree and history, that’s good enough after any Sunday spent in Pittsburgh.

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