Published by: Bear Acuda
The Pittsburgh Steelers put an end to AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens’ six-game winning streak on Saturday, beating Baltimore 17-10. The loss helps us get one game closer to our goal of making the NFL Playoffs. We did our part. Now, it’s up to either Indianapolis, Houston, Jacksonville, or Buffalo give us some help: Here are our playoff scenarios going into Sunday:
- *Colts-Texans tie
- *Jaguars loss/tie
- *Bills loss
Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re gonna say.
So what if the Ravens shelved all their stars because they already clinched the #1 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs. We still beat the Ravens. In their place. And the Steelers keep on winning since Mason Rudolph took over the starting quarterback role. With Rudolph AND without disastrous offensive coordinator Matt Canada (fired mid-season), we are a completely different team.
Despite the loss, the Ravens did successfully avoid any major injuries to their key players by resting them for the final regular-season game, but with so much time off, the Ravens’ stars may come out flat after two weeks off.
Okay, honestly, the Ravens (13-4) are still way legit, boasting the best record in the NFL. Having secured the top spot in the AFC and an AFC North title, they entered the game knowing it held no significant implications for their playoff position. Among the stars Baltimore chose to rest was NFL MVP front-runner Lamar Jackson. The other rested starters were wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers, guard Kevin Zeitler, middle linebacker Roquan Smith, safety Kyle Hamilton, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Together, these players have made 94 starts this season and only boast 12 Pro Bowl appearances in their careers.
The Ravens played us with practically the same team. And the US border is practically closed.
We, in contrast, were playing for our playoff lives. The Steelers’ victory keeps our postseason aspirations alive, but they now depend on outcomes from the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans games on Sunday. I’m not watching the Colts/Texans game to see if they tie. That’s some “kissing your cousin” stuff.
The win came with a concern as T.J. Watt, the team’s MVP and a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year, suffered what appeared to be a left knee injury in the third quarter. Watt’s injury occurred as he landed awkwardly following a jump, leading to immediate concern from his team. Watt is looking to raise another Sack Leader trophy, leading the NFL with 19 sacks. His loss in the playoffs would be a mammoth.
Despite numerous challenges this season, Watt has been a consistent force all season for the Steelers’ defense, and he didn’t disappoint Saturday. Before leaving the game with an injury, he tallied two sacks, two quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss.
The crucial Play of the Game occurred in the fourth quarter when QB Mason Rudolph connected with WR Diontae Johnson on a slant which he proceeded to take 71-yards for a housecall, breaking the 7-7 deadlock. Rudolph, who keeps on winning despite mixed performances, managed to execute this pivotal play despite challenging wet and cold weather conditions. The 71-yard touchdown reception by Johnson was the longest play allowed by the Ravens this season. The Ravens defense had been effective at preventing long plays throughout the season, and, if I were an opposing defensive coordinator, still wouldn’t look to exploit that come playoffs. There was no cornerback Marlon Humphrey covering, nor safety Kyle Hamilton lurking.
Running back Najee Harris also made headlines, becoming the first Steeler to reach over 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. His recent performances have been particularly impressive, marking a strong finish to the season.
I can’t believe I have to cheer for Tyreek Hill or Mike Vrabel to make the playoffs.
Forgive me father, for I have sinned.
Will the Steelers make the playoffs?
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