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Ravens potentially salvage season with heart-stopping overtime win over Steelers

Ravens potentially salvage season with heart-stopping overtime win over Steelers

PITTSBURGH — About an hour after his 46-yard field goal gave the Ravens a 26-23 overtime win over the Steelers, Justin Tucker went out for a victory lap at Heinz Field. 

In a gray sweatsuit, he jogged across the field, alone, in celebration of his team’s three-point win over its biggest rival. 

But on another level, he might’ve given the Ravens season a second life. 

Faced with the prospect of going 2-3 and falling to third in the division, the Ravens mounted a comeback and jumped, for the time being, to the top spot in the AFC North. 

“We just stepped up in so many different situations and found a way to win the game,” coach John Harbaugh said. “A lot of things were going against us, lot of things did not go our way. Our guys kept their poise. Our guys didn’t get overwhelmed by the moment and found a way ultimately to win the game.”

The ways the Ravens found to win the game weren’t the preferred methods, but the got the job done anyways. 

They settled for a 48-yard field goal on the final drive of the game instead of finding the end zone for the winning score. They had to force a fumble on defense in overtime instead of scoring when they got the ball first.

Instead of putting the Steelers away early after taking a 10-0 lead, the Ravens had to scratch their way to an overtime win. 

“It was a hard fought game, defensive battle and there was a bunch of situations that was thrown at us, both sides of the ball,” Earl Thomas said. “But we were able to get it done when it counted. I think we need these games as a defense.”

The defense came up big late to help save the offense, aided by a Marlon Humphrey forced a fumble in overtime to set the Ravens up with prime field position for the game-winning field goal. 

Despite the late heroics, it wasn't the Ravens' sharpest day.

Lamar Jackson went 19-of-28 for 161 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions and was sacked five times. The three running backs (Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill) averaged just 2.61 yards a carry on 26 attempts — the rushing game was buoyed by Jackson. 

The defense allowed an undrafted free agent quarterback, who wasn’t on the Steelers’ active roster as of Sept. 15, to finish 7-of-9 for 68 yards in a little over a quarter of play. Tony Jefferson was also lost for the season with a significant knee injury.

And yet, the Ravens find themselves in an enviable position entering week six. 

“I’m just so proud of our guys,” Harbaugh said. “We’re young, but we’re figuring it out. We just need to keep getting better. We need to keep improving. It’s still early in the season and we can become a lot better in terms of doing the things that we need to do”

After back-to-back losses, the Ravens are now 3-2 with the 0-5 Cincinnati Bengals up next. Then the Ravens will head to Seattle, then have a bye week before a home game against the Patriots on Sunday night. They'll head to Cincinnati to cap their next quarter of the schedule. 

With a winless team accounting for two of the team’s next four games, it would be a disappointment for the Ravens if they don't have a winning record in November.

If the Ravens had lost to the Steelers, however, they’d be third in the division with little room for error down the stretch. Now, at least for a while, there’s breathing room.

“Now we can right the ship,” Matthew Judon said. “We’re above .500 right now, we’ve got to play better football throughout the year. One game isn’t going to propel us into the playoffs, but this is a stepping stone for us and we’ve got to use it as such.”

The rest of the way won’t be easy, especially without Jefferson and two of the NFL’s best teams on the schedule in the coming weeks. 

But 3-2 is a heck of a lot better than the alternative the Ravens were faced with as time wound down in Pittsburgh. 

And if it weren’t for a fumble and some clutch field goals, time is exactly what the Ravens would have ran out of.

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Ravens bruised but hopeful after Buffalo win ahead of short week  

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Ravens bruised but hopeful after Buffalo win ahead of short week  

The Ravens entered Week 14 as healthy as they’d been all season. 

They had perfect attendance at Friday’s practice — 53-for-53 — and didn’t have injury concerns at any spot of the roster. 

Sunday in Buffalo, plans changed. 

Baltimore had three players — Mark Andrews, Anthony Levine and Chris Board — leave with injuries and never return. Chris Moore, Chuck Clark and Jihad Ward were also injured, but returned at some point to the field. 

“Mark is not serious, thigh bruise type of thing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Anthony is not serious, ankle, low. Both of those guys told me they’d be back Thursday. We’ll see how that goes as the week goes on.”

Andrews entered Sunday leading the team in targets with 79 and 53 receptions. Levine is one of the team’s top special teams players and an integral part of what the Ravens do in every facet of special teams. 

The loss of Andrews was mitigated by the performance of Hayden Hurst, who burst onto the scene and scored a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He had three catches for 73 yards total.

“Hayden, to come out and make that play...you can see his ability there,” Harbaugh said. “He ran a good route. It was predicated on the fact that they were going to come down on the run real hard, and they did...Hayden accelerated, he caught it and ran. He was running away from defensive backs there.”

Without Board, another special teams player, the Ravens didn’t suffer any notable lapses on special teams all afternoon. 

It actually could have been worse, as Moore, Clark and Ward all returned after leaving the game with injuries.

The defense wasn’t any worse for wear, as they sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen six times and made him uncomfortable throughout the day. The secondary came up large when it needed to, allowing just 146 yards through the air. 

Baltimore won’t have much time to address the injuries as it will now have to turn its attention to the Jets, who come to Baltimore on Thursday night. 

In a short week, there might actually be true injury concerns now for some of the most impactful players on the roster.

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Ravens win ninth straight game to clinch playoff spot in Buffalo

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Ravens win ninth straight game to clinch playoff spot in Buffalo

Coach John Harbaugh tried to make a big deal out of the Ravens’ playoff berth in the locker room. 

With a 24-17 win over the Bills at New Era Field, the Ravens clinched their second-straight postseason berth — a just reason to celebrate. 

But Harbaugh said the team only gave a brief applause, not a wholesale roar of cheers like he expected.

“I tried to make a big deal out of it in the locker room, and the guys kind of gave me a smattering of applause,” Harbaugh said. “I think they expected that, they earned the right to expect that. We’ve got three more games and things to accomplish still.”

Baltimore, at 11-2, is now mathematically guaranteed a spot in the AFC Playoffs come January. The news wasn’t unexpected, as it would’ve taken a complete collapse, and some help, for the Ravens to miss the playoffs. 

It’s the second year in a row the Ravens are playoff bound, and with a win next week, they would clinch the AFC North, too. 

“It’s great to lock up that playoff spot, but I think everybody in that locker room has aspirations to lock up that one-seed,” Hayden Hurst said. “We want the home-field advantage. We’ve got a couple games left to play and we’ve just got to focus on us.” 

The win wasn’t pretty, as the Ravens had to use their defense once again to get past a top opponent in the NFL.  Baltimore had just 257 yards of total offense, including 180 total yards from Lamar Jackson. 

He threw three touchdown passes, but all three were deep in Bills territory as the offense struggled to find a consistent rhythm all afternoon. 

Thus, the game was left on the shoulders of the defense to carry the load. 

“We want to be the heroes sometimes,” Matthew Judon said. “It’s usually Lamar and the offensive line, the heroes of the game and they milk the clock. Today, we were called upon and we practiced and we focused on our situations even though they drove the ball down the field. We knew bend but never break.”

Thanks to the defense’s standout performance, the Ravens were able to shut down the Bills and dance into the playoffs. 

They’ll have a short week before the Jets come to Baltimore on Thursday, but while Harbaugh tries to play up the playoff berth, that’s not what they have their minds set on. 

“We haven’t done anything yet,” Judon said. “Just getting in isn’t enough. We got in last year and it wasn’t enough. This game always leaves you wanting more, and you’ve got to make it to the next day.”

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