It wasn’t pretty, but the Pittsburgh Steelers remained undefeated (7-0) after vanquishing the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday. With the win the team tied the best start in franchise history, as the 1978 edition also started 7-0 en route to a Super Bowl title.
Steelers fans had little to get excited about in the first half, except for a pick-six by inside linebacker Robert Spillane on Baltimore’s first drive of the game, which allowed Pittsburgh to open a 7-0 lead.
But little else went right for the Steelers in the first 30 minutes, particularly on offense, and the Ravens went into halftime with a 17-7 advantage.
Most notably, Pittsburgh’s passing game was completely out of sync as QB Ben Roethlisberger was just 4 of 10 for 24 yards in the first two quarters.
Ben Roethlisberger Elbow Scare
But it could have been worse. After a sack-fumble near the end of the second quarter, Steelers team doctor Jim Bradley was seen examining Roethlisberger’s surgically-reconstructed passing elbow on the sideline.
CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson went on to report that Roethlisberger had “some discomfort” and “not great grip” after he was looked at by Dr. Bradley.
But Roethlisberger played the entire second half and finished 21 of 32 for 182 yards and two touchdowns, this as compared to Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who finished the game 13 of 28 for 208 yards with two touchdown passes and a pair of interceptions, including one by Steelers rookie outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, the first interception of his career.
After the game Brooke Pryor of ESPN asked Roethlisberger what happened to his elbow and how it was feeling after the game. He was very short in his response, saying nothing more than “Just a funny bone. I’m good.”
Steelers Allowed the Ravens to Rush for 265 Yards
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also seemed a little tightly-wound in his post-game press conference, especially in light of the outcome of the game.
His demeanor might be attributed to the fact that his team’s defense could not stop Baltimore’s running game, allowing Jackson and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards to combine for 265 rushing yards. Dobbins rushed 15 times for 113 yards, Edwards had 16 carries for 87 yards and Jackson carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards.
(This as compared to Pittsburgh’s leading rusher, James Conner, who had 15 carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.)
Tomlin attributed some of his team’s first-half struggles to the fact that Baltimore was coming off a bye and had extra time to prepare.
“I knew that it could be tough sledding early on, and it was, not only on offense but in all three phases, and we had to adjust,” said Tomlin. “I thought we needed that 12 or so minutes at halftime to gather ourselves and recalibrate and eliminate some things on our menu and highlight some of the other things on that menu that were going to be critical to the challenges that would present us.”
Tomlin also noted that losing defensive lineman Tyson Alualu to a knee injury in the first half only added to the challenge of containing Baltimore’s run game.
As for the late game injury to defensive end Cam Heyward, Tomlin didn’t have much to report, saying that Heyward initially had a cramp, but that he wasn’t sure about the nature of his subsequent issue.
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