On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 28-24, allowing Pittsburgh (7-0) to remain unbeaten while also expanding the team’s lead over the Ravens (5-2) in the uber-competitive AFC North.
While Pittsburgh’s defense had difficulty stopping Baltimore’s running game (allowing the Ravens to rush for 265 yards), the Steelers kept quarterback Lamar Jackson largely in check in terms of making plays in the passing game.
Jackson completed just 13 of 28 passes for 208 yards during Sunday’s game (65.8 passer rating), throwing two touchdown passes but also a pair of critical interceptions, including one that Steelers inside linebacker Robert Spillane returned for a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead.
The other interception was recorded by fellow linebacker Alex Highsmith, the first of the rookie’s career.
Jackson also fumbled the ball three times (losing two of those fumbles), for a total of four turnovers. He was also sacked four times and rushed the ball for a relatively modest 65 yards, an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
Lamar Jackson: Loss to the Steelers “On Me”
After the game, Jackson took responsibility for the loss. “The turnovers I feel is the reason why we lost the game,” Jackson said. “I put that on me.”
But Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin made a stronger statement during his own post-game press conference.
Asked about Lamar Jackson’s interceptions and whether those turnovers could be expected from a player of Jackson’s pedigree, Tomlin said, “We’ve got respect for him but we don’t fear him. And so we’re not surprised by anything that transpires.”
Those are pretty strong words for a quarterback who was last year’s Associated Press and PFWA NFL MVP, not to mention first-team All-Pro in 2019.
On the other hand, Jackson has had modest success against Tomlin & Co.
While Jackson did win his only other start against the Steelers, a 26-23 overtime victory at Heinz Field last season (Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges both played QB for the Steelers that day), he has now committed seven turnovers in his two starts versus Pittsburgh.
Ravens-Steelers Rematch: Thanksgiving Night
Jackson and the rest of his Ravens teammates will have a chance to try to avenge Sunday’s loss when they visit Heinz Field on Thanksgiving night.
But between now and then the Ravens have a relatively challenging slate of games, with visits to Indianapolis and New England, followed by a home game vs. the Tennessee Titans.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh resumes its undefeated season next Sunday at Dallas, followed by a home contest against Cincinnati and then a trip to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.
If the Steelers beat the Cowboys in Dallas the team will set a new franchise record for its best start to a season. In 1978 the Steelers started 7-0 before losing to the Houston Oilers in Week 8, but went on to finish the regular season 14-2 en route to a 35-31 victory over the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII.
Of course, a big part of the 2020 team’s success has come because of its pass rush.
The Steelers have now recorded at least one sack in 64 consecutive games, closing in on the NFL record of 69 games (set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers between 1999-2003).
Meanwhile, the Steelers are also trying to set a new franchise record for the most consecutive seasons with 50+ sacks (four), which would be an accomplishment not seen in the NFL since the 1980s.
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