8:20 p.m. ET
68 degrees/ Clear
Key Coaching Decision #1: (PIT ball, trailing 14-12 / 2-point conversion attempt / 2:50 Q2)
• After a Ben Roethlisberger touchdown pass to Antonio Brown made it a 14-12 game, the Steelers successfully converted a two-point conversion, a two-yard pass to James Conner.
• There was going to be plenty of opportunities to make up the point later in the game had they opted to kick the PAT and make it a 14-13 game. However, Mike Tomlin frequently attempts two-point conversions when he has the opportunity. Pittsburgh has already had success tying the game before halftime on a two-point conversions (see two-point conversion against Cleveland). It’s not unreasonable to do what they did here.
However, it was surprising that this would be last points of the game for them.
Key Coaching Decision #2: (Gamewide)
• The Steelers running game — or lack of desire to establish one — is deserving of a key coaching decision. Pittsburgh ran the ball only 11 times for 19 yards against the Ravens.
• The argument that the Steelers were playing from behind falls on deaf ears. The game was tied (See Key Coaching Decision #1) at halftime and the Steelers were only down by three points at the end of the third quarter. Yet, they ran the ball so infrequently and became one-dimensional in the process.
• The Steelers simply abandoned the run in favor or going to four- or five-receiver sets. Even if they were going to pass, the Steelers went to “Empty” frequently, thus eliminating the possibility of a running play. James Conner ran for 131 yards in a Week 1 victory. In the next three games, he’s only rushed for a combined 97 yards. On Sunday, he had 9 carries for 19 yards.
Key Coaching #3: (BAL ball, score tied 14-14 / third-and-3 BAL 40 / 6:34 Q3)
• Mike Tomlin unsuccessfully challenged a first-down ruling on the field on a Lamar Jackson scramble. It was unlikely that they would win the challenge. The Steelers wasted a timeout that they could later have used to challenging the ruling on the field.
Key Coaching Decision #4: (BAL ball, leading 17-14 / fourth-and-2 at PIT 42 / 14:18 Q4)
• The Ravens enjoyed a three-point lead against the Steelers. Rather than punt the ball, the Ravens successfully attempted a fourth-down conversion with a handoff to wide receiver Chris Moore. This allowed the Ravens to continue the drive and get the ball to within field-goal range for kicker Justin Tucker, who kicked the second of his four second-half field goals. An unsuccessful attempt here would have give the Steelers the ball back with excellent field position in a one-score game.
• The Steelers had nine straight Sunday night victories heading into this game.
• For the second straight game, the Steelers did not score after halftime.
• The Ravens controlled the ball and the clock. They ran the ball 30 times for 96 yards and had nearly a 10-minute advantage in time of possession.
• Lamar Jackson played a larger role for the Ravens, especially in short-yardage situations. He lined up as a quarterback and carried the ball four times for 17 yards. While he played just a small role in the game, we would expect his contribute to be greater each week.
• The Ravens were imaginative on offense. Tight end Maxx Williams lined up off the ball and as a left guard. As an eligible receiver on a third-and-1 from the Ravens’ 23-yard line with 8:49 left in the fourth quarter, he caught a Joe Flacco pass that extended the drive that resulted in a field goal to make it a nine-point Ravens lead.
• Baltimore’s special teams is “special.” Coverage units were excellent on Sunday night and Justin Tucker kicked field goals of 47, 49, 28 and 31 yards.
• The Steelers use of personnel is questionable:
o Conner, as mentioned above, is largely an afterthought. Tight end Vance McDonald and wide receiver Antonio Brown both finished with the same stat line (5 catches for 62 yards). Brown did have one touchdown.
o Wide receiver Ryan Switzer had eight touches (seven catches, one rush) not to mention four return attempts. Brown and JuJu Smith–Schuster were targeted 11 times each but caught receptions on less than 50 percent of those targets. However, Roethlisberger’s inaccuracy hurt their ability to become a bigger part of the offense.
• Pittsburgh’s defense allowed 451 total yards, and the Ravens were eight of 17 on third-down conversions. They allowed an opening drive of 75 yards that resulted in a touchdown.