2023 Steelers Season Recall: Defense contains Lamar Jackson, Ravens offense

Steel City Underground presents our 2023 Steelers Recall: A Look Back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.

Following a brutal 30-6 loss to the Houston Texans, the Pittsburgh Steelers were back home to host the Baltimore Ravens for their Week 5 matchup at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers had scored 7, 26, 23, and 6 points in their previous games, with the defense aiding most of those scores. The 2-2 Pittsburgh team was being highly questioned heading into this game against a high-powered Ravens team that put up 25, 27, 18, and 28 points to start their season 3-1. The Ravens only loss came in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts, leading many to believe the Steelers had no chance to win in Week 5.

A Steelers win felt improbable, if not impossible. Yet, the team found a way to compete, with contributions from every phase of football. (Unlike one week earlier!)

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To get to 17 points the Steelers converted three field goals, a safety and a touchdown, but missed a two-point try. They did it mostly through defense, forcing Baltimore to turn the ball over six times (twice on downs and fumbles, and once each via safety and an interception).

All of Baltimore’s scoring – ten points – occurred in the first half. A Justice Hill 14-yard touchdown run and a Justin Tucker 23-yard field goal felt like it was going to be enough to seal the deal early.

However, the Steelers would answer late in the second quarter on a 43-yard Chris Boswell field goal. (With Brad Wing still subbing as a punter and holder for Pressley Harvin.)

The Ravens headed into the locker room up 10-3. Baltimore had topped 100 yards in the first half, while Lamar Jackson completed 15-of-25 passes for 153 yards with no touchdowns or interception. It appeared that the Steelers dam was about to break, as the Ravens offense beatdown their counterparts with 15 first downs (to the Steelers 6), 244 net yards of offense (to 88), and 18:24 time of possession (to 11:36).

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However, with both teams holding the ball twice in the third quarter, and all four drives finishing with punts, the game remained 10-3 with the nervous crowd in Pittsburgh awaiting the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Kenny Pickett was sacked for a loss of eight yards on a 3rd-and-7 from the Ravens 34, knocking the Steelers out of field goal range and sending Wing out to punt.

The Steelers defense would answer the call once again, with Kwon Alexander adding to a Ravens holding call and forcing a 4th-and-16 situation where Baltimore would punt the ball away. That’s when Miles Killebrew turned the game around, blocking his third punt as a Steeler.


The ball went into the endzone but wasn’t recovered inbounds by Rodney Williams. However, the play resulted in a safety and gave the Steelers new life.

“The thing I love about blocked punts is that it’s a team stat. We all get credit… It was a scheme that we’ve been practicing for three weeks. Danny Smith drew it up.” – Miles Killebrew

The Steelers offense would muster a 9-play, 49 yard drive which saw Jaylen Warren lose yardage from the Ravens five-yard line before Pickett threw two incompletions from the seven: one intended for WR George Pickens and the other for WR Allen Robinson. Boswell would boot a 25-yarder to inch the baseball score up to 10-8, still in favor of Baltimore.

On the very next series, Pittsburgh’s defense would stuff the Ravens and force a three-and-out. Though the momentum had shifted in Pittsburgh’s favor, it nearly went back to Baltimore in its entirety, as the Ravens forced punt returner Gunner Olszewski to fumble. The ball was recovered by the Ravens on the Steelers seven-yard line, setting up a series that led to Joey Porter Jr. bailing out Gunner and his mistake.

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With the Ravens starting off on the Steelers seven-yard line, the defense once again had to contain Lamar Jackson and company. Porter, who entered the game late, was able to reach up and pick a pass (his first NFL interception) in the end zone, crushing a Ravens drive that could have given Baltimore the win.

“I already kind of had that in the back of my mind they were going to try me on that play,” – Joey Porter Jr.

Porter’s pick setup an unlikely Steelers comeback drive, as Pickett led the offense 80 yards down the field, finding Pickens on a 41-yard touchdown connection that saw the Steelers gain their first lead of the day. Up 14-10, the Ravens offense panicked, as Jackson would be sacked two plays into their next possession, fumbling the ball back to Pittsburgh, as Alex Highsmith punched the ball out and T.J. Watt made the recovery.

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The Steelers offense was still shaky – and conservative – as they took a knee three straight times to wind the clock down in the closing minute for a Boswell field goal to go up by seven. The Ravens made one last push but fell apart at the end, as their offense line was called for holding and Lamar Jackson couldn’t find his receivers, last sacked on a 4th-and-7 by you guessed it: T.J. Watt.

In all, the Ravens would only rush for 25 yards in the second half of the game while Jackson threw for 83 yards. The Ravens offense would punt four times (one blocked for a safety) and turned the ball over in their last three drives via an interception, fumble, and on downs.

One week after laying an egg in Houston the Steelers improved to 2-0 in the AFC North with the most unlikely of wins. The Steelers improved to a 3-2 record with a 17-10 victory.

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