Allegany Communications Sports­­

The latest edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers-Baltimore Ravens series resulted in the second 17-10 Steelers victory over the Ravens this season.

The Steelers needed a win to have a chance to get into the playoffs; the Ravens, the top playoff seed in the AFC, needed to get home safe and healthy, as they did not play quarterback Lamar Jackson and a host of their other best players.

The Ravens played it smart — and safe; their decision magnified further by the freak injury suffered by the Steelers’ best player, T.J. Watt, who, while airborne, was undercut and injured his left knee on contact by a sliding teammate.

Now if anybody can and will come back sooner than expected from an injury, it is and has been T.J. Watt; even with the current diagnosis being sprained MCL — out for multiple weeks.

This comes one week after the Miami Dolphins, who were already in the playoffs, lost their best pass rusher, Bradley Chubb, on a non-contact injury while his team was already down by 30 points and he had no business even being in the game at that point.

So, yes, the Ravens played it safe, and they played it smart. The horrible weather conditions in Baltimore on Saturday only magnify the soundness of their call.

The game was Steelers-Ravens, which means it was quite a fight, but because of the weather, it was no thing of beauty, aesthetically speaking, which is fine. Because of this, though, it was difficult to get a read on much of anything, beginning with the teams’ quarterbacks, Pittsburgh’s Mason Rudolph and Baltimore’s Tyler Huntley.

That said, Huntley, while having long done an admirable job as Jackson’s back-up, is not part of the Ravens’ future, perhaps as soon as next year when he becomes a free agent.

And though he didn’t do anything himself that clearly moved the needle, my eye test continues to tell me the Steelers play with more snap and with more confidence with Rudolph as their quarterback than they do with Kenny Pickett as their quarterback.

Somehow, you had the feeling all along that the Steelers would have committed even more turnovers in that weather, or even ideal weather conditions, than they did on Saturday night had Pickett been the quarterback rather than Rudolph.

Tough luck for the Ravens, I suppose; for even though the loss did not affect or hurt them in any way, it still leaves a sour taste when they lose to the Steelers, which they have been doing quite a bit of these days.

Which brings us to the MIKE TOMLIN “issue,” which, silly me, not being a Steelers fan, I don’t see an issue. There are many Steelers fans out there, though, who have told me since I’m not a Steelers fan I wouldn’t understand, so that I should butt out.

Of course, this is the same fan base (spanning a couple of generations) that couldn’t get Chuck Noll out of the picture fast enough because the Steelers weren’t winning the Super Bowl every year the way they seemingly did in the 1970s under Noll.

Same fan base that wanted no more of Bill Cowher until the Steelers finally reached a Super Bowl, even though it ended up being the infamous Neil O’Donnell Bowl. Another Super Bowl appearance (and a win) later, there remain miniature statues of Cowher on dashboards all across Pittsburgh, and both he and Noll have long been in the Hall of Fame.

Short memories aside, Mike Tomlin is going to be in the Hall of Fame as well. I mean, if Cowher is in, Tomlin had better be in as well.

Tomlin’s team won 10 games this year, which means the Steelers have had a non-losing record for 17 straight years. He has the highest winning percentage for a head coach in Steelers history and has taken two teams to Super Bowls and won one of them (just like St. Cowher) and the Steelers players play their guts out for him because he’s a straight shooter and they trust him.

Yes, the Steelers took their sweet time to figure out their offense this year and they had dreadful losses to a pair of 2-10 teams. Yet they continued to fight through it to win 10 games and make the playoffs as a hot team.

There was nothing Tomlin could do about the juggernaut regular season the Ravens had this season. But guess what? Pittsburgh beat Baltimore twice this season, handing the AFC’s top-seeded team half of its four losses.

As far as an issue involving the head coach in Pittsburgh is concerned? Please disperse; nothing to see here. Please.

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]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT