It's an old phrase that football coaches have repeated for years--you've gotta play the whole game.
The Ravens didn't Sunday night. The Steelers did and that's a big reason they pulled out the surprising 23-20 victory over the Ravens, a win that kept Pittsburgh alive in the AFC playoff hunt.
There's no question as to why the Steelers came back for the win. Despite playing with third-string quarterback Charlie Batch, the Steelers' offense didn't appear to miss a beat and pushed the Baltimore defense around in the second half.
Pittsburgh scored 17 points in the second half after Batch struggled throughout the first two quarters. The Ravens couldn't stop them on defense. Even more frustrating was that the Ravens took a 20-13 lead in the fourth quarter and gave up 10 unanswered points, all of which came in the final half of the quarter.
"We have to finish. We didn’t do a good job of that today," safety Bernard Pollard said afterwards. "Games like this, we need to be ready to go. We’ve got to finish, and today, we didn’t do a good job of it.”
The Ravens, for whatever reason, didn't seem to play with as much intensity in the second half as the first. In that first half, the Ravens kept Batch and the Steelers quiet for much of the time.
But somehow Pittsburgh opened things up on offense in the final two quarters, especially in the passing game. Did the Ravens overlook Batch a bit? They said that didn't happen, but in the end, the defense couldn't hold the Steelers in the second half, a problem that's unusual for coach John Harbaugh's team.
(on the Ravens-Steelers rivalry) “We didn’t care who their quarterback was, we knew it was going to be a tough game. For us, we just have to watch the film and figure out where we messed up. We’ve got to find out what we’ve got to get better at and move on.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sent condolences to the family of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis by a police officer and said that there is much more work to be done in the NFL and our communities in a statement issued Saturday.
"The NFL family is greatly saddened by the tragic events across our country. The protesters' reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel.
"Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those who have lost loved ones, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, the cousin of Tracy Walker of the Detroit Lions.
"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts. There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society. We embrace that responsibility and are committed to continuing the important work to address these systemic issues together with our players, clubs and partners."
Goodell's statement came a day after an op-ed was published by former NFL spokesperson Joe Lockhart calling for an NFL team to sign Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who lost his spot in the league after kneeling in protest of police brutality and inequality in America. Many, including LeBron James, have cited Kaepernick's message - and the consequences he suffered for delivering it - throughout the unrest and response to Floyd's death.
"Do you understand NOW!!??!!??" James wrote on Instagram with a side by side photo of Kaepernick kneeling during a game and a police officer kneeling on Floyd's neck. "Or is it still blurred to you??"
In a statement to Pro Football Talk in response to Lockhart's article, current NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said that Kaepernick is a free agent. “Clubs may sign him if they choose to do so," he said.
McCarthy also pointed to the work that the league has done with its Inspire Change social justice initiative, which has included millions in grants to non-profits around the country.
What position Matthew Judon plays makes a bit of a difference when it comes to how much the NFL says he’s worth. In fact, it’s about two million dollars of difference.
If Judon was classified as a defensive end, he’d make $17.788 million on the franchise tag. If he was a linebacker, he’d make $15.828 million.
Judon’s position as an edge rusher means he’s a bit of a hybrid, so that’s exactly what he and the Ravens agreed to. Judon will make $16.808 million next season, the average of both salaries, the team announced on Friday.
Now, the Ravens and Judon can continue negotiations on a long-term contract until July 15, at which point he’ll play under the franchise tag and be forced to wait until the end of the 2020 season.
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Judon, who had 9.5 sacks last season, will be 28 years old when the season begins. He’ll likely start opposite Jaylon Ferguson, a 2019 third-round pick who had 2.5 sacks in his rookie season.
If the Ravens agree to a long-term deal with Judon, it will likely be the first in a line of many long-term contracts to come on a team loaded with young talent. That deal would likely allow the Ravens to spread out his cap hit over multiple seasons and increase the likelihood of re-signing other future free agents on the roster.
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