Twelve Ravens Thoughts following Week 17 loss to Pittsburgh

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With the Ravens suffering their second loss in three games to fall to 10-6 in a 16-13 defeat to rival Pittsburgh on Sunday night, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Instead of learning the ramifications for Baltimore’s AFC North title hopes, Monday reminded us of life’s fragility and how trivial football can be. Players — and coaches — are sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, and friends who do their very best to entertain us. Keep praying for Damar Hamlin and his loved ones.

2. Pittsburgh beat the Ravens at their own game, which was deflating for those hoping a running game and defense can be enough to make real noise in January. Even counting on a Lamar Jackson return, this team looks and feels closer to average than elite at this point. 

3. Squandering Justice Hill’s kick return to the Pittsburgh 40 was the turning point, but the offense disappeared before that. After J.K. Dobbins’ 22-yard run with 3:42 to go in the third quarter, Baltimore’s final 14 plays went for 32 yards, one first down, and a turnover. Yuck.

4. This defense is pretty good in the way we view defense in today’s NFL, but you can’t suffer five losses in which you held a two-score lead in the second half and expect any relevancy in Ravens history. Pittsburgh scored on three of its last four full drives. 

5. That said, Kenny Pickett deserves credit for making his best throws of the night on the final touchdown drive. The Steelers didn’t ask the rookie quarterback to do a ton, but a few of those passes — including the touchdown — were very difficult to defend. 

6. Baltimore obviously missed Calais Campbell in the trenches, but Pittsburgh’s 198 rushing yards were the most surrendered by the Ravens since the 2019 playoff loss to Tennessee. The Steelers were the tougher team on both sides of the ball. 

7. According to Next Gen Stats, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren combined for 42 rushing yards over expectation after the Ravens had allowed the fewest rushing yards over expectation in the league over the previous eight weeks. Both Pittsburgh backs were impressive. 

8. While rushing for 120 yards on 28 carries is hardly a bad night at the office and Dobbins had three runs of 15 or more yards, Baltimore struggled to run consistently against the Steelers’ six-man defensive front. That put an feeble passing game in too many second- and third-and-long spots. 

9. Even with so many offensive line and running back injuries, the 2021 Ravens still averaged a respectable 20 points per game in the five contests in which Tyler Huntley started or played extensively. They’re averaging 9.8 points per game in the five contests he’s played this season.  

10. Mark Andrews had one of his best games of the season in catching all nine of his targets for 100 yards. The Pro Bowl tight end is looking as healthy and explosive as he’s been all year, which is a good sign for whatever playoff optimism Baltimore has. 

11. Ravens wide receivers combined for two catches for 18 yards on five targets and one run for a single yard. It was good to see rookie Isaiah Likely catch a touchdown, but his drop in the fourth quarter thwarted what should have been a Justin Tucker field goal attempt. 

12. Baltimore played its 10th straight contest against an opponent entering the day with a losing record, and none of those teams are currently over .500. The Ravens have one victory all season against a team holding a winning record today. Ready or not, business is about to pick up. 

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