Emmanuel Sanders

Games between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers are never pretty affairs. Conservative play calling, a lot of defense and usually a play or two that decide the whole game. The Thanksgiving edition of this AFC North rivalry wasn’t any different, as a failed two-point conversion kept the win in Baltimore (22-20), mostly relying on the kicking of Justin Tucker to pull away by half a game from their rivals.

The Ravens led for most of the game, including taking a 13-0 lead in the third quarter and 19-7 against in the fourth. They didn’t run the ball much despite the lead they were holding on to because the rushing attack from the Ravens this season is quite embarrassing. The team finished with 74 yards on 25 carries, while Joe Flacco had another OK, nothing more, kind of game, finishing with 251 yards and a touchdown.

Ben gave me a good ball. It hit my hands, and I’ve got to make the play. It’s not on him. It’s on me.

Luck wasn’t the only factor, and it wasn’t all about the Pittsburgh Steelers playing quite passively early on or their failed 2-point conversion with one minute left in the game, Emmanuel Sanders letting Ben Roethilsberger’s pass simply fly through his hands, giving the Ravens not just a revenge win over the Steelers after a 3-point loss last month, but moving ahead of them in the standings, improving to 6-6, now 1.5 games behind the division leaders Cincinnati Bengals.

Justin Tucker

There were no sacks on Baltimore’s side, no turnovers for both teams. Simply good defense when it mattered the most, and doing just about enough on offense to move the chains and get in field goal position. Their defense continues to be incredible at home, now allowing only 12.3 points in their six home games, producing a record of 5-1. The offense didn’t explode – it can’t with this gameplan and personnel, but they converted 9-of-14 3rd downs through 13:59 remaining in the game, their most third-down conversions this season. It was also the first time in which they converted more than 50% of their third downs.

The Steelers did try blitzing Joe Flacco quite a lot, sacking him twice during the game. However, Flacco handled the pressure very well, going 7-of-10 in the game under five or more pass rushers coming at him, including 6-of-8 in the second half, when the Steelers blitzed on over 40% of their defensive snaps. Coming into the game, he was completing 52% of his passes against five or more pass rushers, 31st among 38 qualified quarterbacks.

There were so many opportunities for us to go out there and get points and win, just big, and put the game away, and we didn’t do it. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking, ‘Man, this is going to catch up to us.’ It’s never over when you play the Steelers; it’s never over when you play the Ravens. That’s why these games are so great. We’re in control of our destiny. I feel like we’re a really good football team; we need to go out and prove it.

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