For all of their shortcomings this season, the Baltimore Ravens are right in the middle of the playoff hunt.
Even better, the defending Super Bowl champions created some separation between themselves and the hated Steelers by defeating Pittsburgh 22-20 on Thursday night.
The victory provided the Ravens (6-6) with their first winning streak since September and proved that they are indeed capable of winning a close one. Prior to this game, Baltimore had lost five games decided by six points or fewer.
“What have we lost, five games by the narrowest of margins?” coach John Harbaugh said. “Those are the games that we need to find a way to win. I feel like we’re getting there. I feel like we’re a really good football team.”
Although the Ravens haven’t been able to generate a running game this season, are 1-5 on the road and have struggled to get into the end zone, they’re still in the hunt for the AFC North crown and at worst, a wild-card berth.
“This puts us back in the picture,” said Ray Rice, who was held to 32 yards on 12 carries.
Pittsburgh (5-7) had won three straight to move into a six-way tie with Baltimore for the second wild-card spot in the AFC. Now the Steelers trail the Ravens and know there is little margin for error over the final four weeks.
“We’ve got to get back to it,” cornerback Ike Taylor said. “The season isn’t over with. There’s no time to pout or whine.”
Here are three oddities and two things to know about the Steelers-Ravens game:
ODDITY NO. 1: Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham was ready to kick the ball several seconds before holder Mat McBriar put it down on what was supposed to be a 50-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
Suisham made his approach and pretty much stood there. McBriar handed to ball to Suisham, who was dumped for a 12-yard loss. It was a key moment, giving the Ravens good field position for a drive that they turned into a field goal for a 10-0 lead.
“We were doing it on a cadence to slow down their rush,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “And the crowd noise – I don’t think that Shaun Suisham heard the cadence. I think he started to the ball early.”