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Position Notes: Steelers vs. crows

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Heart Steelers.

I’m not sure there is any other way to describe this group as a whole without using the word heart. That’s what they are at this point.

The Pittsburgh Steelers win lousy, but more importantly, they win.

That’s exactly what happened on Sunday Night Football in Week 17 against the Baltimore Ravens as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett once again led a game-winning drive in the final minutes, firing a shot in movement to running back Najee Harris on the left sideline for the game. star scorer and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick beat Tyler Huntley in the Ravens’ final practice to seal a 16-13 victory, once again keeping the black and gold alive in the AFC playoff picture .

Let’s skip to a few notes and enjoy this one.


Another week, another thrilling late-game return from rookie Kenny Pickett, this time on the road in a hostile environment.

Much like the comeback against the Las Vegas Raiders on Christmas Eve, Pickett worked magic after having his fair share of ups and downs on the day. The final numbers might not be mind-blowing (15 for 27, 168 yards, one touchdown), but he did it when it mattered most, going 5 for 6 for 64 yards on the game-winning run.

His 20-yard throw rolling to his left and pushing his body towards tight end Pat Freiermuth on the dive was remarkable. So did the 28-yard dart through the middle of Steven Sims, who finally set up his 10-yard touchdown pass to Najee Harris by running down the left sideline on a broken play for the win.

It’s very hard to quantify, but Pickett’s moxie factor and general “it” factor are out of this world. He never blinks in big moments and really brings a serious calming influence to those moments, which resonates with his teammates. He just doesn’t blink and it’s the rising tide that lifts all the boats at these times.

The Steelers absolutely have something here with Pickett. Now it’s about finding that consistency throughout games so the Steelers don’t have to rely on late-game exploits every week.

RB — A+

What a performance from Harris and Jaylen Warren.

After struggling against the Ravens in Week 14 at home, Harris and Warren dominated from start to finish against the Ravens, playing bully ball from the start of the game.

Harris had arguably the best game of his career to date, finishing with 111 rushing yards on 22 carries and added two catches for 14 yards, including the game-winning 10-yard touchdown on a drill of scrambling with Pickett, beating Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith on the sidelines for the score.

On the court, Harris was a force to be reckoned with. He again executed tackles consistently and knocked the stack forward throughout the night, giving the Steelers a consistent and powerful rushing offense throughout the night.

Warren was terrific as a change of pace option behind Harris, finishing with 12 carries for 76 yards. He snatched an explosive 31-yard run on the first drive of the game on a well-crafted throw sweep that was a new wrinkle for offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Between the tackles, Warren was a force, much like Harris.

Warren was also very hard-hitting in the passing game, finishing with three catches for 22 yards, including a 10-yard long one to move the chains on the game’s first drive.

Exceptional evening for ball carriers.


On a night in which the running game was the focus of the Steelers offense, Steelers receivers didn’t quite have the impact many expected in the game.

Diontae Johnson (two catches, 35 yards) and George Pickens (two catches, 29 yards) weren’t as hard-hitting overall, though they had a few key catches, including Pickens’ 15-yard grab to convert a third-and-14 in the first-half win. Johnson nearly made a big play later in the game on a deep shot from Pickett but couldn’t get his second foot inbounds.

The issues with receivers were related to their inability to stay in bounds on the roads, particularly Pickens’ play on a Pickett scrum in which he threw a seed on the run to Pickens. However, he was wiped out as Pickens went out of bounds at the top of his route. Diontae Johnson also failed to catch third down in the first half.

Steven Sims came on strong for the Steelers late, shooting his bounding 28-yard reception down the middle on the Steelers game-winning touchdown. He led Steelers receivers with three catches for 34 yards on the night.

TE — B-

A false start penalty on Pat Freiermuth’s first drive of the game turned what should have been a touchdown drive into one that settled for a field goal. Pre-snap penalties continue to be quite painful.

The good news is Freiermuth bounced back after that, finishing with three catches for 36 yards, including a 20-yard sliding clutch catch on the game-winning touchdown, moving the Steelers to midfield, setting up Pickett’s strike at Sims on the next play. He’s a confident tight end and continues to make key plays in big situations for the Steelers.

After struggling a week ago from a blocking perspective, Freiermuth, Zach Gentry and Connor Heyward have rebounded in a big way, combining with the offensive line to really win at the point of attack and move people out of the way. place to open large rush lanes.


The last time the Steelers offensive line faced the Ravens’ front seven, Baltimore dominated from start to finish. That was not the case this week.

Against the Ravens on Sunday Night Football, the offensive line looked determined and dominant throughout the game against Baltimore, helping the Steelers rush for 198 yards on 41 carries, controlling play in the trenches and bringing it at the Ravens all night long.

Kevin Dotson, Mason Cole and James Daniels really attacked on the inside, consistently winning at the point of attack and creating a serious push throughout the night. Likewise, Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor.

Outside of the terrific running performance, the Steelers allowed just two sacks, neither of which would go against the offensive line as Pickett stumbled behind the line of scrimmage and hit one, then ran into a sack late in the game. alone instead of throwing the ball.

One of the best performances of the season for the offensive line. Very impressive.


Baltimore running back JK Dobbins had another great game against the Steelers, going for 93 yards on just 17 carries, but overall the defensive line played pretty well throughout the game.

Sometimes using a six-man front, the Steelers defense was able to consistently get off the field late in the game thanks to the trench work of Larry Ogunjobi, Cameron Heyward and DeMarvin Leal. Ogunjobi finished with two tackles and Leal added three tackles, while Heyward led the charge up front with four tackles.

However, Heyward had a costly penalty late in the first half, getting called for an unnecessary roughing penalty in the pile after a third save, extending Baltimore’s drive, which led to a touchdown pass. from 7 yards from Tyler Huntley to Isaiah Likely. It’s a penalty that largely shouldn’t have been called, but it can’t happen with a veteran like Heyward, especially with the importance of those games down the stretch.


With more emphasis on stopping the run, Robert Spillane and rookie Mark Robinson received a significant amount of shots on Sunday night and performed quite well.

Spillane led the Steelers with nine tackles in the win, including one tackle for a loss. He played hard downhill and read his keys really well and found the ball. Robinson made an impact against the run right away, hitting a big hit on the first play of the game. He finished with seven tackles in the win and looked like a guy who could get more points next season as a BUCK linebacker.

Devin Bush had limited snaps in the win but finished with two tackles, while Myles Jack was largely ineffective before leaving the game again with a groin injury.

Outside, TJ Watt was exceptional at night. Watt finished with four tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss, also racking up a number of pressures on the night. He gave Morgan Moses a handful before the veteran offensive tackle was ejected from the game with an injury. Opposite Watt, Alex Highsmith played the run pretty well, finishing with three tackles in the win. He didn’t create much passing-wise though.


Once again, defensive backs did a good job against the Ravens, holding Huntley and Baltimore to just 120 passing yards on the night.

Arthur Maulet, Cameron Sutton and Levi Wallace really trumped Baltimore’s receiving options on the night, limiting DeSean Jackson and Demarcus Robinson to just two total catches for 18 yards. In fact, Baltimore’s receivers were only targeted a total of five times on the night.

Wedges really obliterated receivers throughout the night.

Although tight end Mark Andrews had a great night, finishing with nine catches for 100 yards, the secondary really took the Ravens away a lot in the passing game. Terrell Edmunds has been really solid on his return to the lineup, playing as well as that extra defender in the box and defending Andrews well at times.

He made a crucial play late on third down, breaking up a pass intended for Andrews that would have put the Ravens in the field goal range for Justin Tucker. Instead, Baltimore kicked off the football, setting up Pickett’s game-winning drive.

Minkah Fitzpatrick called the game again at the end, repelling Huntley late on an ill-advised throw, capping a good night for the veteran safety, who finished with nine tackles.

Special Teams — D+

Danny Smith’s unit is heading in the wrong direction at this point in the season.

Kick coverage is a mess. Rookie Connor Heyward missed a kickoff for the second time this season, allowing Judge Hill to snatch a 56-yard kickoff return in the second half. Coverage units have gotten progressively worse this season under Smith. It’s a huge concern.

Then there’s the endless number of penalties on special teams playing themselves, like Elijah Riley’s late call on hold on a punt, putting the Steelers deep in their own territory. They constantly shoot themselves in the foot on special teams.

Kicker Chris Boswell missed a field goal in the victory but rebounded to score three field goals in the victory. However, he only achieved a conversion rate of 69.2% during the season. It’s one of the lowest numbers in football this season. It was mostly a lost season for the Pro Bowl kicker, much like the 2018 season.

Punter Pressley Harvin III had a great night throwing the football, averaging 49.5 yards per punt on two punts, knocking one down inside the 20-yard line.

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