Mike Tomlin Calls out Steelers for 'Junior Varsity' Performance vs. Ravens

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IDecember 3, 2020

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster as Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker L.J. Fort (58) pressures him during the second half of an NFL football game Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said his team performed at a junior varsity-level on Wednesday while defeating the Baltimore Ravens, 19-14, and moving to 11-0 on the season.  

"We make no excuses," Tomlin told reporters after the win. "We seek no comfort. We didn't play well tonight. ... To be bluntly honest, I'm really disappointed in our performance tonight. It was junior varsity. In all three phases."

On offense, Pittsburgh converted just six of 14 attempts on third down, failed on both fourth-down plays it ran and committed two turnovers. Perhaps most glaring was the Steelers' inability to work inside the 20-yard line. Pittsburgh went 1-4 in the red zone on Wednesday as drops plagued its receivers all afternoon.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger echoed his coach's sentiment before he even left the field. Speaking with NBC's Michele Tafoya on the broadcast, Roethlisberger said he was disturbed by the way the team performed. 

"Obviously we won," the QB then told reporters. "But it sure doesn’t feel like it.”

When Tomlin was asked what led to Pittsburgh's wideouts dropping passes, he was even more succinct than usual.

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"Us sucking," Tomlin quipped

The Ravens put a bit of a late scare into the Steelers with a 70-yard touchdown to Marquise Brown with two minutes left to make it a five-point game. That it even got so close was reason enough for Tomlin's reaction.

Due to the league's COVID-19 protocols, Baltimore was without starting quarterback Lamar Jackson, tight end Mark Andrews and running back J.K. Dobbins among others.

Robert Griffin III, who started in place of Jackson, exited with a hamstring injury midway through the contest. The Ravens hardly practiced at all over the last week due to restrictions put in place following positive COVID-19 tests within the organization, giving Pittsburgh even less of an excuse for a lackluster showing. 

The Steelers gave up 219 total yards anyways as Roethlisberger completed 36 of 51 pass attempts with one touchdown and one interception—good for an 81.0 passer rating which marks the second-lowest of the season and only the third game where he finished with a passer rating below 90.0 all year. 

Asked if he can remember being this upset after a win, Tomlin couldn't come up with an answer.

"I don't know," the coach said. "I know this was pretty frustrating."