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Ravens-Steelers instant analysis


Ravens-Steelers instant analysis

Steelers 23, Ravens 20

M&T Bank Stadium

The streak is over.

The first time these teams played two weeks ago, the Ravens were just better. Sunday, it was the Steelers, led by third-string quarterback Charlie Batch who outplayed Joe Flacco and led his team on a 12-play, 61-yard drive to end the game on a 42-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham.

Flacco had his worst game of the season at home, going 16-for-34 for 188 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. But it was his fourth-quarter fumble that allowed the Steelers to tie the score at 20 on Batch’s 7-yard pass to Heath Miller.

The Ravens’ NFL-long home winning streak ends at 15 regular season games.

Baltimore won 13-10 at Heinz Field two weeks ago in the Steelers’ first game without Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder/ribs).

Batch, who had three interceptions in last week’s 20-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns, went 25-for-36 for 276 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

The Ravens appeared on their way to an easy victory when 13-3 late in the second quarter wen Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for 31 yards on a back shoulder thrown and then 28 yards on the next play for a touchdown.

That was Boldin’s second TD catch of the season, and first since Week 1.

Flacco’s overall play, however, was poor. He broke a tackle by Jason Worilds, spins out and tossed up a prayer to Dennis Pitta that was intercepted by Ryan Clark. Pitta was covered by three Steelers.

The Ravens’ offense opened with six consecutive pass plays on a drive that stalled before midfield, a sign of what was to come.

Player of the game: RB Ray Rice had 12 carries for 78 yards and a TD. It was his 32nd of his career, which moved him to second all-time for the franchise and surpassed Willis McGahee.

Turning point: Seemingly in control with a 20-13 lead after Ed Reed’s end-zone interception of Batch, Flacco dropped back and held the ball too long. That led to a sack by James Harrison as Flacco fumbled and Ziggy Hood recovered. Four plays later, Batch connected with Miller with 7:24 left in the game.

Bailed out: On 3rd and 3 from the Ravens’ 23, Chykie Brown released Mike Wallace, mistakenly thinking he had help over the top. Fortunately for Brown, Batch overthrew a wide-open Wallace in the end zone. Instead, the Steelers settled for another field goal to go in trailing 13-6 at halftime. Brown was used in the nickel package because veteran Chris Johnson (hamstring) was inactive.

Wrecking ball: FB Vonta Leach planted NT Casey Hampton, who weighs 325 pounds on a run block that sprung Rice. On top of that, he had his best offensive day of the season with 4 catches for 40 yards. 

Tough yards: Last week, the Ravens converted 12 of 24 third downs despite having to go 10 yards four times, 7 twice, 8, 9, 15, 16 and 20. They avoided that Sunday, but failed on 3rd and 2, 5, 3 and 4 in the first half alone.

Nowhere to run: Dwyer took over as the No. 1 back, supplanting Rashard Mendenhall to third string, but didn’t get much done. Along with Isaac Redman, that trio was held to 93 yards on 24 carries the first time these teams met. Sunday wasn’t much different as Dwyer and Redman were held to 25 carries for 92 yards.

Tip drill: LB Albert McClellan tipped Drew Butler’s punt in the second quarter to give the Ravens possession near midfield. Eight plays later, Justin Tucker kicked a 23-yard filed goal for a 6-3 lead for Baltimore. DT Terrence Cody tipped a pass from Batch to start the third quarter.

Streak continues: LB Paul Kruger continued his sack streak, getting one for the fourth consecutive game. The fourth-year player dropped Batch for a 3-yard loss on 3rd and 4 in the second quarter. That put Kruger at 6.5 for the season, surpassing his previous high of 5.5 from 2011. DE Arthur Johnson also had a sack for a 3-yard loss. It was his second consecutive game with one after getting two in San Diego a week ago.

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst


Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 


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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."