For the Pittsburgh Steelers, this game meant everything.
On a dreary, wet evening at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, the Steelers pulled off an ugly 17-7 over the Ravens, improving their record to 10-7 and, depending on the results this evening or tomorrow, may have earned themselves a playoff spot.
The last two weeks saw the Steelers offense dominate opposing defenses with the connection of quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver George Pickens. In this game, however, the Ravens defense made sure that this would not be the case. Enter, running back Najee Harris, who was a workhorse in this game, carrying the load for an offense that struggles for much of the game. Harris would finish with 112 rushing yards on 26 carries (21 receiving yards), and in the process, he became the first Steelers running back to record three consecutive seasons with 1,000 or more rushing yards.
Although Pickens did not make a big impact in this game, one receiver that did was Diontae Johnson. Johnson would finish the game with a team-high 89 yards on four receptions. His 71-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter was the turning point for the Steelers, who were reeling offensively. As for Rudolph, he would finish with a modest 152 passing yards, but he did what he needed to do to help his team register their third straight win.
On defense, All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt recorded his 18th and 19th sacks of the season, along with six tackles, before leaving the game with a knee injury. In his place, Markus Golden had a strong performance, finishing with three tackles and a sack late in the game.
Speaking of standout linebackers, Mark Robinson Jr. was one of the most consistent players on defense for the team. He finished the game with five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Rookie defensive lineman Keeanu Benton accounted for three tackles and a key forced fumble; he would recover late in the game.
Arguably, the most valuable player on defense for the Steelers was defensive back Eric Rowe. After leaving with an injury before the half, Rowe came back and was tremendous. He would lead all Steelers defenders with 12 tackles, a pass deflection, and a forced fumble.
The Steelers will need a little help to secure a playoff spot. If the Baltimore Colts and Houston Texans tie, they're in. The other scenario involved a Buffalo Bills loss to the Miami Dolphins tomorrow or the Jacksonville Jaguars losing or tying the Tennessee Titans. All in all, this win gave them a fighting chance to make their playoff dream a reality.