BALTIMORE — The Steelers got two big stops in crunch time, as the defense twice stuffed Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson in the final two minutes to preserve a 28-24 victory over Baltimore on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Minkah Fitzpatrick broke up Jackson’s final pass attempt in the Steelers’ end zone with no time left on the clock, securing the Steelers’ victory and a 7-0 start to the season for Pittsburgh.
Fitzpatrick’s hard hit on Willie Snead was the second end zone stop for the Steelers defense late in the fourth quarter.
On the penultimate Ravens drive, Steelers backup lineman Isaiah Buggs reached off his block to grab Jackson on a designed quarterback run, and Vince Williams and Minkah Fitzpatrick came crashing down from the secondary. Fitzpatrick forced Jackson to fumble, and Robert Spillane grabbed the ball, securing the victory for the Steelers.
Buggs was in the game thanks to an early first quarter injury suffered by starting Steelers nose tackle Tyson Alualu. Alualu did not return after the knee injury. Cameron Heyward also left the game late with a lower-body injury.
Pittsburgh took the lead late in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to rookie Chase Claypool, but the Ravens moved the ball down the field methodically, taking over five minutes off the clock.
Spillane intercepted Jackson on the opening drive of the game and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown, the first of his career and the first time Jackson has ever thrown a pick six.
The Steelers also intercepted Jackson in the third quarter, when rookie Alex Highsmith dropped into the flat and pulled down a leaping pick.
Roethlisberger hit Eric Ebron on a crossing route for an 18-yard score to cap the ensuing drive to make it 17-14 Baltimore after the Ravens had opened up a two-score margin.
After the Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out, James Conner capped a 10-play, 57-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown to put Pittsburgh ahead.
Jackson responded with a 3-yard scoring strike to Marquise Brown to give the Ravens a 24-21 lead, setting up Roethlisberger’s scoring strike to Claypool.
Roethlisberger finished with 182 yards on 21 of 32 passing and two touchdowns. Conner had 47 yards rushing on 15 carries, almost all of which came in the first half.
The Steelers are 7-0 for the first time since 1978 and will finish their three-game road swing with a visit to Dallas next Sunday.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”