The Baltimore Ravens snapped their two-game losing streak with a 26-23 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
The AFC North's penultimate rivalry looked different than in recent years. Sunday's matchup marked the first time since 2015 that quarterbacks other than Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger started.
Ravens starting quarterback Lamar Jackson was mostly held in check by a swarming Steelers defense, while Pittsburgh's starting quarterback Mason Rudolph had to be replaced by undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges following a scary sequence midway through the third quarter that left Rudolph briefly unconscious.
Rudolph was diagnosed with a concussion.
Jackson was able to lead the Ravens on a nine-play, 45-yard drive that secured the game-tying field goal and sent the game into overtime. Following a fumble by Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, Jackson again set Baltimore in position—this time for the 46-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Tucker:
The Ravens improved to 3-2, while the Steelers fell to 1-4.
Notable Fantasy Stats
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: 19-of-28, 161 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT; 14 carries, 70 yards
Ravens RB Mark Ingram II: 19 carries, 44 yards, 1 TD; two catches, five yards
Ravens WR Willie Snead IV: four catches, 51 yards
Ravens TE Mark Andrews: five catches, 45 yards
Ravens WR Marquise Brown: three catches, 22 yards, 1 TD
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph: 13-of-20, 131 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Steelers RB James Conner: 14 carries, 55 yards, 1 TD
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: seven receptions, 75 yards, 1 TD
Lamar Jackson Shows Up in Crunch Time
Those highlights were mostly overshadowed by the Steelers' five sacks and three interceptions, until it mattered the most.
And then, Jackson did what was necessary to get the job done.
Jackson's 70 rushing yards tied him with Robert Griffin III as the quickest quarterback to reach 1,000 career rushing yards in league history, and perhaps none were more important than the five-yard carry on 3rd-and-1 that kept Baltimore's game-tying drive alive with 1:35 left in regulation.
However, Jackson's five interceptions this season have all come in the last two games against much stiffer defenses than he faced in the first three.
Against the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs, Jackson went 63-of-100 for 863 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions. Those teams' passing defenses ranked 29th, 23rd and 19th, respectively, entering Week 5.
Against the Cleveland Browns and Steelers, Jackson tossed for 408 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions on 43-of-62 passing. The Browns' passing defense sat tied for seventh in the league after four weeks, with the Steelers' at 18th.
Jackson is in his first year as a full-time starting quarterback in the NFL. He will continue to have growing pains, but he also has shown enough to merit a bit of patience when going through them. Sunday's performance showcased both ends of the spectrum.
Mason Rudolph Injury Puts Steelers in Dire QB Situation
Best illustrating how the Steelers feel about their current quarterback situation is the fact that they won the overtime toss and chose to defend.
The Steelers defense was able to force a three-and-out, validating the decision until Smith-Schuster fumbled and gave Baltimore possession at Pittsburgh's 34-yard line.
Technically, Pittsburgh's loss wasn't Hodges' fault. He hit Smith-Schuster for a 10-yard gain like he was supposed to. But moving forward, the Steelers will continue to free-fall because of their quarterback carousel—an unfamiliar situation for the franchise:
It's not like the Steelers could have predicted that Roethlisberger would be lost for the season in Week 2 with an elbow injury, and then Rudolph would be knocked out in Week 5. However, before Rudolph's injury, the team wasn't calling the offense as if it felt a capable quarterback was under center, Smith-Schuster's 35-yard touchdown catch aside.
Monday night against the Bengals and Sunday against the Ravens, running back Jaylen Samuels has been utilized in the Wildcat formation and thrown the ball five times—including an ugly interception early in the first quarter that led to a Ravens touchdown.
It brings under question how the franchise will move forward once Roethlisberger is gone for good.
In the short-term, the Steelers have to hope that Hodges doesn't get hurt, as he is the only remaining healthy quarterback on the depth chart.
Hodges finished Sunday's contest with 68 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions on 7-of-9 passing.
Baltimore will remain in the AFC North in Week 6 by hosting the Cincinnati Bengals, while the Steelers will travel outside the division and across the country to take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday Night Football.