The Ravens went with their vintage Cover 0 look on the George Pickens touchdown play. It’s something that the Steelers had planned for all week, even installing checks and alerts to give Kenny Pickett the answers against those pressures. Throughout the week, Pittsburgh wanted to catch Baltimore in the perfect look to use their aggressiveness against them.
According to Patrick Peterson, head coach Mike Tomlin predicted that the entire thing would happen at some point on Sunday. The Steelers, on the edge of field goal range and threatening to take the lead, dialed up the perfect call to catch the Ravens in the blitz.
“The crazy thing about that, too, is I’ll never forget, on Wednesday meeting, Coach [Mike Tomlin] said, ‘When it’s a dying moment, they will try to burn the house down.’ You go back to that moment, and I can’t remember if it was third down, but it was a weighty moment, and I’ll be damned, they tried to burn the house down, and we caught them,” Peterson said on his All Things Covered podcast.
It’s no surprise, with good film study, that Tomlin could predict this, especially when a guy like George Pickens plays on the outside for the team you coach. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald loves to run iterations of cover zero. They come out on different fronts, though, and the front on that play has the right side overloaded for the blitz.
It was a great job by the Steelers to be prepared for that moment. It’s an exemplary job all around from the units. Pickett recognized the front and look from practice and film study. Canada gave the answers to the fronts that the Ravens would bring. Pickens did an excellent job off the line of scrimmage, beating Marlon Humphrey. The offensive line and protection scheme worked.
Tomlin calling it on Wednesday is a nice little touch for a story. The Ravens ran it knowing the risks, and Pittsburgh dialed up the perfect call to catch them in the act. That’s the type of football the team needs to see more offensively moving forward to stack success.