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Ravens lead Steelers 13-10 after 3 quarters

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Ravens lead Steelers 13-10 after 3 quarters

PITTSBURGH (AP) Jacoby Jones had a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown and Justin Tucker made two of his three field-goal attempts to give the Baltimore Ravens a 13-10 lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers after three quarters of their AFC North showdown Sunday night.

Jones had a touchdown return for the second consecutive week; he ran back a kickoff in a win over Oakland. Jones, who also had a kickoff return for a score against Dallas last month, has four career touchdowns on punt returns.

In addition to the special teams score, Baltimore's defense set up field goals by Tucker of 26 and 39 yards off of Pittsburgh turnovers. Mike Wallace fumbled in the first quarter and backup quarterback Byron Leftwich threw an interception in the third quarter.

Leftwich had a 31-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the game. Making his first NFL start in more than three years because of shoulder and rib injuries to Ben Roethlisberger, Leftwich was 11 for 24 for 153 yards at the end of the third quarter.

Not known for his scrambling ability, the 250-pound former first-round pick took the second official snap of the game and scrambled out of the pocket, turned the corner, got a block, split two defensive backs at the right sideline and made it to the end zone for his 10th career touchdown rushing and first since 2008.

The play was a career-best run for Leftwich and the longest touchdown run of the season for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers' Shaun Suisham kicked a 22-yard field goal during the final minute of the third quarter.

Tucker missed a 41-yard try less than a minute into the second quarter.

The Steelers (6-3) have Rashard Mendenhall in their lineup for the third time this season and he had seven carries for 25 yards at the end of the third quarter. Backup Isaac Redman was knocked out of the game with a concussion. Jonathan Dwyer has 42 rushing yards on 10 carries.

Both teams were struggling on third downs - Pittsburgh converted three of 12 opportunities through three quarters and the Ravens were 3 for 11.

The Steelers have won four consecutive times to pull to within a game of their rivals. The teams will play again in two weeks in Baltimore.

Joe Flacco was 18 for 29 for 153 yards and Ray Rice had 15 carries for 28 yards through three quarters for Baltimore (7-2).

Roethlisberger was knocked out of last Monday's overtime win over the Kansas City, allowing Leftwich to make his first start with the Steelers over four seasons. It is Leftwich's first NFL start since September 2009 with Tampa Bay. He hasn't won a game he started in more than six years.

The Steelers have lost to the Ravens each of the past four times they played them without Roethlisberger.

The Ravens are missing three defensive starters of their own: linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb.

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

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USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.

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