PITTSBURGH -- If there was anyone still waiting to write off Pittsburgh following last Sunday's 41-10 thumping in Cincinnati, they were probably writing the Steelers' 2021 obituary at halftime of Sunday's game against Baltimore.
As you can see below, the Ravens' 7-3 halftime lead failed to illustrate the dominance Baltimore displayed during the game's first 30 minutes. And there was no reason to think that the Steelers would manage to turn things around in the second half.
First downs: Ravens 13 to 4
Third down: Ravens 4-8; Steelers 0-4
Total plays: Ravens 39-18
Yards: Ravens 191-93
Rushing yards: Ravens 86-13
Time of possession: Ravens 23:30; Steelers 6:30
Things didn't look much brighter after three quarters, as the Ravens extended their lead to 10-3 and in the process ran their time of possession up to 31 minutes, 47 seconds. Everything changed, however, on the second play of the fourth quarter. Facing a third-and-one on his own 31-yard-line, Ben Roethlisberger hit Chase Claypool on a 40-yard catch-and-run. The play jumpstarted the first of three consecutive scoring drives by Pittsburgh's offense that included the game-winning touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson. The Steelers then survived an ill-fated two-point conversion attempt by the Ravens in the game's final seconds to escape with a much-needed, 20-19 victory. The win kept the Steelers alive in the race to not only cinch a playoff berth, but to capture the AFC North division crown for a second consecutive year.
Back in the winners column for the first time since Week 9, the Steelers will look to carry their momentum to Minnesota for Thursday night's showdown with the Vikings. Here's a look at the Steelers whose stock rose and fell during Sunday night's win. But first, shout outs are in order for Johnson, T.J. Watt, and Minkah Fitzpatrick, whose stocks continue to soar this season.
Watt picked up 3.5 sacks and on Sunday night to join Hall of Famer Reggie White as the only two players in league history with four straight seasons of at least 13 sacks. Johnson caught eight passes for 105 yards and is less than 90 yards away from becoming Pittsburgh's first 1,000-yard receiver since JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown both did so in 2018. Fitzpatrick ended Baltimore's promising drive to begin the game with an end zone interception of Lamar Jackson. The two-time All-Pro safety now has interceptions in each of his last two games.
Stock up: Chris Wormley
Following Sunday's game, Mike Tomlin shared what his message was to Wormley upon the Steelers acquiring him via a trade with the Ravens in the 2020 offseason in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
"I told Worm when he got here, 'When teams trade you within the division, they're telling you what they think of you,'" Tomlin recalled. "I hope he always plays like that when he sees them."
A third-round pick in the 2017 draft, Wormley racked up 2.5 sacks, only one sack shy of his career tally entering this season. He also had five tackles (two for losses) and three hits on Jackson. In 11 games this season, the veteran defensive lineman has already set career highs in tackles (37) and sacks (five).
"No matter what the week is or who we're playing, I want to perform well, but it's extra special doing it against the team that traded you away," Wormley said after Sunday night's win.
Stock down: Secondary receivers
It was another quiet night for wideouts Ray-Ray McCloud and James Washington. Washington was targeted just once, while McCloud caught just one of his four targets for seven yards. McCloud was the victim of an overturned call on what appeared to be a 32-yard reception on Pittsburgh's opening drive of the second half.
Stock up: Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger received the game ball after leading his 51st career come-from-behind victory. Roethlisberger finished the night with 21 of 31 passing with 236 yards with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. He also hit tight end Pat Freiermuth for a critical two-point conversion following his game-winning touchdown pass to Johnson. During the game's final stanza, Roethlisberger was 9 of 10 for for 129 yards along with his two scores.
"Yeah, it kind of caught me off-guard," Roethlisberger said about receiving a game ball. "I don't think that I deserve it. I think a lot of guys deserve it, and we deserve it as a group. It's always humbling when you play this team at home and coach recognizes you like that. It's kind of cool."
Stock down: Inside linebackers
This unit continues to underwhelm. Joe Schobert had seven tackles but was beat on several one-on-one situations. Devin Bush, who has been under the microscope by fans and media members all season, had just two tackles despite being on the field for most of the game.
Stock up: John Leglue, Ahkello Witherspoon, Montravius Adams
We bunched up three reserve players who each had a major impact on Sunday night's outcome. Leglue, a former undrafted free agent who was activated by the Steelers on November 27, made his NFL regular season debut on Sunday night after B.J. Finney left the game with a back injury in the first quarter. Leglue played well enough to render praise from Tomlin during his postgame press conference. He was part of an offensive line that allowed just one sack of Roethlisberger. Leglue and the Steelers' line also began winning the battles in the trenches in the fourth quarter that allowed Pittsburgh to control the ball for over 10 minutes during the period.
Witherspoon, who was acquired in October in a trade with Seattle, played well in his first start of the season while replacing injured cornerback Joe Haden. Along with his five solo tackles, Witherspoon made a key breakup of Jackson's third-down pass to tight end Mark Andrews with 6:36 left and the Ravens holding a 13-12 lead.
Adams, a veteran defensive tackle who has already spent parts of this season with the Patriots and Saints, signed with the Steelers on Monday with Pittsburgh looking to beef up the interior part of their defensive line. Despite just arriving in Pittsburgh, Adams was a key component of the Steelers' defense on Sunday night. He collected two tackles while also breaking up one of Jackson's passes. Adams' presence helped the Steelers hold the Ravens to just 21 rushing yards after halftime.
Stock down: Officiating
The league is cracking down on taunting, but it seems to have come at the expense of player safety. How else can you explain the no-call that occurred between Johnson and Ravens safety Charles Clark midway through the second quarter. Johnson was tattooed by Clark on the far sideline despite Roethlisberger's pass having already sailed past both players. Plays like this need to be flagged to avoid serious injury.