Five things we learned from the Ravens’ season-ending 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers – Twin Cities


The Ravens saw their season end to a disappointing end on Sunday following a 16-13 loss in extra time to the Steelers in Baltimore. Here’s what we learn from Raven’s sixth straight loss:

On the final day of the 2021 season, Raven was faced with the fact that they weren’t good enough.

Hope briefly visited M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The Ravens couldn’t help but look at the scoreboard, which told them the Jacksonville Jaguars were sneaking up on the Indianapolis Colts. This was the most unlikely of the three assists they needed to make it to the knockout stages.

The Ravens were also running their own business, knocking the Pittsburgh Steelers out of their heels with powerful runs and tangled defense. As the fourth inning began, they stood 11 yards from a touch that would have put them 17-6, leading in a short game of coherent attacking play.

Full-back Tyler Huntley watched the team’s best pass catcher, Mark Andrews, snap at the back yard. He thought he had space but failed to put enough mustard on his pass, which ended up in the hands of defender Cameron Sutton in Pittsburgh. Their chances of extending the season will never shine again.

Then they talked about the chances that passed between their fingers – the passes they failed to capture, the third and fourth places they failed to make. They had made similar remarks numerous times over the previous six weeks, as they watched a promising season fall apart and each time a terrible loss. This time, they thought there would be no next week.

“We can’t say ‘what if’,” says Huntley. “We have to face the truth of what happened.”

Teams in the knockout stages haven’t lost their last six games, even if five of those losses equal eight points combined.

The Ravens were determined. They didn’t give up on each other as injuries tore through the starting field, a left tackle, three top corners and their once-MVP midfielder. No loss has crushed their will to look ahead.

Coach John Harbaugh told them they would return to this season someday when giving lessons in resilience to their kids. “You should be able to tell them this story,” he said.

But that’s not the story Raven wants to write in 2021. They don’t want to be the team that just misses again and again, it’s about what could happen if the ankle wasn’t flipped or the ligament is not torn. They all believe they can be the last team standing. Instead, they weren’t one of the last 14. The cause and the way are not very important.

“The first half of the season, we figured out how to win these games, [but] in the second half, we didn’t,” said Latavius ​​Murray running back. “So I appreciate [Harbaugh] for saying we fought and what happened, but I think we’ll all look back and realize we didn’t finish it – we still had a chance, but we didn’t Okay. ”

The Ravens couldn’t ‘find a play’ without their best player, Lamar Jackson.

With Raven driving in injury time, Huntley got a glimpse of his best goal, Andrews, and threw far enough behind him that Andrews couldn’t get his hands on the ball.

This final loss is symbolic of Huntley’s worst day as a professional quarterback. He turned the ball three times and couldn’t make up for it with his header. If you’re going to be a conservative quarterback in the NFL, you can’t be prone to making mistakes either.

So let’s put aside any notion that the Ravens are fine without Jackson. As bad as he struggled in the weeks before he injured his ankle against the Cleveland Browns, they lost their sense of offensive ability with him on the sidelines. The magical rallies we saw against the Indianapolis Colts and the Minnesota Vikings, the deep passes we saw in the opening weeks of the season, were out of the question.

That’s by no means a disappointment for Huntley, who has helped put Raven in a position to win every game he starts. It’s just to say that Jackson remains at the heart of the team, and we shouldn’t be surprised that they’ve lost their last four games, all must-win, without him.

Huntley made a costly mistake in the first half when he tried to catch a low foul from Bradley Bozeman rather than land a ball in the rain. It’s a rare case of an unusually cold fallback happening excessively in a game that’s a bit upstream. The Steelers, who needed all the help to score, had to drive just 29 yards to make it 3-0.

On his next hold, Huntley tried to make a pass for Andrews but went over the bar and put it in the arms of Pittsburgh’s safe Terrell Edmunds, who made a fine tackle picking the ball off the field. .

Huntley had the opportunity to give the Ravens a two-point lead when he watched Andrews flash in the late zone early in the fourth half. However, instead of pulling the ball, he threw it hesitantly, giving Sutton enough time to pick it up.

“I couldn’t drive the ball the way I wanted to,” Huntley said.

Andrews defended Huntley’s reading, saying he could have done more. “I think it’s a touchdown if I go back to the ball,” he said.

No one should put this loss entirely on the back four. Marquise Brown dropped a touchdown pass just before half-time and was unable to hold onto a catch along the touchline in the weak seconds of regulation. The movie about the game is sure to reveal other culprits. The Ravens have scored one goal in their last two matches, which they have conceded four points in total.

“We fell short in many games here which meant we couldn’t find a single game,” Harbaugh said. “We couldn’t find a play we needed.”

Did Jackson find that play? Can’t say, but he’s the man Raven turns to when they have no other answers. Without him, they couldn’t be the team they hoped to be when the season started.

Raven needed a more reliable plan for dealing with attacks.

Team Raven prioritized their offensive line in the final season after the right flank faltered in a playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. They will have to return to the drawing board after surrendering more than any other team in 2021.

General manager Eric DeCosta has signed right-back Kevin Zeitler, who has been their best attacking striker this year. Bradley Bozeman’s successful transition to midfield is more often than not. But their plan to defend the edge with Ronnie Stanley and veteran Alejandro Villanueva fell through from the first moment of the season.

We saw the ripples again on Sunday as the Steelers sacked Huntley three times and attacked him six times in the first half. The lineup played better afterward as Raven moved into their run of strength game, but an early inability to score came back to bite them.

You could argue that Raven has the options they need in the house, with Stanley recovering from ankle surgery and settling on Ja’Wuan James expected to be ready once he’s done. miss this season with a torn Achilles. But if the Ravens don’t use the free agent’s draft and dollar options to add quality saves after Stanley and James, they’ll fall into the same trap that claimed their lives this year. now. Their entire plans, including the decision to trade Orlando Brown Jr., are predicated on Stanley’s health, but they can’t count on him for next season, even if they hope for him. He will return to All-Pro form from 2019. James may be an above average right foot, but he hasn’t played anything nearly a season since 2018.

The Ravens set out to address these issues by renewing Patrick Mekari, an ideal utility worker who has filled in admirably rightly this season. They need to assume that Stanley and James won’t be in every game and outline a plan to be ready to play in 2022 and start in the following years.

Ben Roethlisberger is far from the classic form, but he appropriately bids farewell to the Ravens.

We’ve spent the week talking about all the times Roethlisberger made slam dunks to rally the Steelers past Raven. “Terminator,” defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale called him, paying his respects ahead of Roethlisberger’s final game of the regular season.

For most of the afternoon, Roethlisberger looked like a player who’d stayed a season too long. He can’t hurt the Ravens’ pitch and makes passes begging to be intercepted.

Somehow, he just swayed enough for the fourth quarter and overtime. On days 3 and 9, with less than six minutes left in the fourth round, he found Ray-Ray McCloud at 20 yards, his second-longest finish of the day. Moments later, he headed home with Pat Freiermuth 11 yards in the third and sixth rounds. During overtime, he connected with Freiermuth another 14 yards in the third and seventh rounds and with McCloud in 10 yards on the 4th and 8th turns.

The Ravens could never crush the last bit of his life.

“I respect when there’s respect,” defender Calais Campbell said. “We gave him a hard time. … He is a legend for having performed important plays in important moments. ”

Some would consider this the ultimate great foothold for Hall of Fame players, but that’s not entirely true. Roethlisberger did not go back in time. We see him in declining form, averaging 5.5 yards at a time. He made just enough pitches to win on an afternoon marked by ugly football. And it fits as his final note on a rivalry that has always leaned more toward survival than beauty.

Injury is Raven’s biggest enemy, but they know they have more to find than luck.

As the thinking turns to the season, we can say that Raven will likely be better off in 2022 even if they don’t make a significant overhaul to their roster and coaching staff.

When they arrived at training camp, they reasonably expected to have the best offensive line in the league and one of the league’s second best. DeCosta and Harbaugh built everything around these strengths.

The team that we see as the wound of the season – ultimately getting past the defense, 18 points per game in the last nine – have failed to live up to that vision. Raven has lost too many players who are said to have given them their identities.

When they get back to work this summer, we’ll probably see Jackson and Stanley, Marlon Humphrey and JK Dobbins, etc. The team that can’t resist the Steelers will be an unforgettable memory.

But there are fundamental improvements that need to be made. Raven must fortify their offensive and defensive lines. They have to revisit derogatory concepts that have become stale since they entered the league in 2019. They have to figure out whether to make a huge financial commitment to Jackson and how to do so. nursing him through the hiccups with confidence that we’ve seen this year.

This is not a team that has come close to achieving its goals, so self-evaluation – a traditional strength of the coach and head office – must be unforgivable.

“We’ll hit the lab,” Andrews promised after an epic individual season (107 catches, 1,361 yards, nine touchdowns) and a disappointing team run.

Safety Chuck Clark didn’t even answer the question because he had only one thing to say: “Just watch how we come back.” Five things we learned from the Ravens’ season-ending 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers – Twin Cities

Beth Allcock

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