Steelers do just ‘enough to win,’ improve to 11-0
Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2020
By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin isn’t one for excuses. Even as COVID-19 wreaked havoc with his team’s schedule, pushing their matchup with Baltimore from Thanksgiving night to middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week in the middle of a pandemic, the longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach refused to reach for one.
So while the Steelers stayed perfect with a disjointed 19-14 win over the undermanned Ravens in the first NFL game on a Wednesday in eight years, their play was anything but. And Tomlin knows it.
“To be bluntly honest, I’m really disappointed in our performance tonight,” he said after Pittsburgh improved to 11-0. “We did enough to win tonight, that’s all.”
Calling it “junior varsity”-level play, Tomlin seethed in the aftermath, a testament to both how high the bar is set and just how far the Steelers came from clearing it.
Asked about an offense that managed just one touchdown in four trips to the red zone — missed opportunities that allowed the Ravens (6-5) to hang around until the final minutes — Tomlin didn’t offer analysis as much as rage.
“Us sucking,” he said, declining to get into specifics.
There really was no need to.
The Steelers turned it over twice, once on a fourth-down heave into the end zone by Ben Roethlisberger, the other a fumbled punt by Ray-Ray McLoud that set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Gus Edwards. They let Baltimore backup quarterback Robert Griffin III briefly turn back the clock to his 2012 Rookie of the Year season and looked at times like a team in the middle of ho-hum midweek practice — which, to be fair, Wednesdays typically are — rather than a showdown with its longtime rivals.
“Obviously we won, but it sure doesn’t feel like it,” said Roethlisberger, whose 1-yard strike to JuJu Smith-Schuster early in the fourth quarter gave the Steelers a 12-point lead. “Just not good football. It starts with me. It’s a mental game, it’s been a challenging and draining week but at the end of the day we need to step on the field and play good football when it’s time.”
Pittsburgh didn’t for long stretches, though some of the credit goes to a spirited effort from the Ravens, who were missing more than a dozen players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins. Griffin completed just 7 of 12 passes for 33 yards and had a first-quarter Pick-6.