Allegany Communications Sports

Bad weekend for the Harbaughs. And I’m not so sure Jim’s Michigan Wolverines deserved what they got; but John’s Baltimore Ravens surely got what they deserved, namely their fourth loss of the season in which they’ve held at least a 10-point lead in the second half.

Yes, the Ravens got what they deserved Sunday night with their 16-13 home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and head coach John Harbaugh readily admitted it.

“We’ve got to do a way better job across the board,” Harbaugh said after the game. “It was exactly what we saw on tape from (the Steelers) the last three weeks. Not one of our better performances at all. Coaching staff, start with that. Start with me. Game plan. All of it. Not good enough.”

No, it was not good enough, Lamar Jackson or no Lamar Jackson; but that’s the risk you run when you build your team around a running offense and go for an extended period of time without the services of the person you designed it for.

Matter of fact, it was more like a high school game in that both teams ran the ball for almost the entire first half, making for a very fast-moving prime-time NFL game, which the networks hate, with the Steelers running a six-man defensive front in much the same way high school teams do to try to stop the Wing-T.

Yet both teams continued to run the ball, the Steelers with far more success, running through the Ravens’ No. 3 ranked rush defense for 198 yards, the most ever against Baltimore in the Mike Tomlin era, as from the very beginning Najee Harris ran like a raging bull, gaining 111 yards on 22 carries.

Still, the Ravens’ defense didn’t allow the Steelers to score their first touchdown until there were 56 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, which should be more than enough to win a football game.

The Ravens offense, though, was dreadful once more, with their only touchdown coming as a result of a gift penalty against the Steelers, which just shows you how much the perception of the Steelers has changed even in the eyes of the officials, as those kinds of rinky-dink calls always went in the Steelers’ favor, not against them.

There was plenty of blame to go around for the Ravens, though. They were dominated on both fronts for much of the game. The defense allowed just shy of 200 yards rushing (as the Pittsburgh defense did against Baltimore in Pittsburgh), and the offense couldn’t do anything at all in the fourth quarter after taking a 13-3 lead, with failing to score after Justice Hill’s kickoff return to the Pittsburgh 39 being the major turning point of the game.

For much of the game, even as they led for most of the game, the Ravens didn’t look like a team ready to do anything in the playoffs, and they didn’t sound like one after the game.

Ravens guard Kevin Zeitler said the loss to the Steelers is sure to bring the team’s “Coming to Jesus” moment this week.

“We got to get this fixed,” he said. “Otherwise nothing good is going to happen.”

They need to get Lamar fixed. Otherwise nothing good is going to happen and, given their lack of legitimate outside receivers, there are no guarantees anything is going to happen even if the electrifying starting quarterback is fixed, although the Ravens do average 28 points with Lamar and about half of that without him.

It was not a good look and, frankly, it was another perfectly horrible loss on national television that is either going to break the Ravens or truly be the “Come to Jesus” moment. With one final regular-season game remaining, there is no gray area. It’s either/or.

As for the Steelers (8-8), they need a home win next week over the Commanders-slaying Cleveland Browns to assure their head coach Mike Tomlin of never having a losing season, but most importantly, to have a chance to reach the playoffs.

For that to happen, the Steelers need to beat the Browns (7-9) and for the New York Jets (7-9) to beat the Miami Dolphins (8-8), and for the Buffalo Bills to defeat the New England Patriots (8-8).

If any one of those things does not happen, Pittsburgh does not get in, which I suspect, given the play of the Steelers’ defense, would not break too many AFC hearts.

It certainly won’t disappoint anybody in Baltimore. They have the Ravens to do that.

And the Ravens are 10-6.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT