After the offense’s 37-point outburst against the Detroit Lions a week ago, players said it would mean nothing if they didn’t follow it up with another strong showing in Pittsburgh.
Well, the Ravens didn’t get the result they were looking for against the Steelers, but the offense delivered once again.
After struggling for much of the year, and being ranked 31st in the league just two weeks ago, the Ravens offense has now produced 75 points in the past two games.
Despite a heartbreaking loss, the offense’s turnaround is encouraging moving forward as Baltimore is still in the driver’s seat for the final wild-card playoff spot.
“We have a very good offense,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Everybody can quit writing about that.”
The Ravens now rank ninth in the NFL in points per game (24.5), just behind Pittsburgh (24.6). That includes defensive and special teams touchdowns, but it’s still an impressive mark.
Last week against the Lions, there was the caveat that Detroit entered the game with the NFL’s 26th-ranked defense. The Steelers, however, came in ranked No. 4 overall – three spots ahead of Baltimore.
Quarterback Joe Flacco had a second straight efficient game, throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns to one interception. Even second-year wide receiver Chris Moore emerged with three grabs for 48 yards, including a pretty over-the-shoulder 30-yard touchdown.
Much of the damage, however, was done on the ground.
The Ravens running game is excelling on the legs of Alex Collins and behind a strong scheme that continues to create good angles and blocking mismatches. The Ravens have the 10th-most rushing yards per game (118.3) and Collins has five touchdowns in his past four games.
Collins ran 18 times for a career-high 120 yards and caught two passes for 46 yards against the Steelers. Fellow running back Javorius Allen got into the end zone twice.
“We just ran the ball well. I thought Alex Collins and the offensive line did a great job in blocking and running the ball,” Harbaugh said. “We executed. I thought they did a great job. It’s good to see.”
Center Ryan Jensen said the difference, at least up front, has been consistency and continuity along the line. The group was mixed and matched early in the year, but has been working together for more than a month now.
“It’s the right time to get the offense going and scoring points and getting the running game going,” Jensen said. “It was a good offensive game, but we didn’t go in there and close it out, so it kind of mars what we did today.”
While Baltimore’s defense lost a nine-point lead with less than seven minutes left, the offense had two crucial three-and-outs in the fourth quarter that left the door open.
On the second, Flacco couldn’t connect with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on a critical third-and-3 when trying a read-option pass over the middle, which got tipped at the line of scrimmage.
The Ravens had one last chance to get into field-goal range with less than a minute left, but two deep shots to Maclin both went incomplete. He stepped out of bounds on the second before reestablishing himself to make a sideline grab, but his toe was still touching the white out-of-bounds line.
“It’s tough to be happy right now, in this situation,” Flacco said. “I definitely thought we played well tonight, but we didn’t win the game. We were not able to do it.”
Check out all the best photos from Heinz Field as the Ravens battle the Steelers on Sunday Night Football.