The Ravens gambled, went for two points and lost. But it was a smart call | NFL


NFL gamers don’t usually get to decide on after they retire, time makes that call for them. Reports last week advised what we had suspected all season: this shall be Ben Roethlisberger’s final yr with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Assuming the experiences are true, Sunday’s 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens might go down as a final hurrah for the Corridor of Fame-bound quarterback.

It was an unsightly recreation, as it typically is when the Steelers face their historical rivals, the Baltimore Ravens. Ugly however compelling. Roethlisberger had put the Steelers forward because of two landing passes. But with 12 seconds left, Lamar Jackson linked with Sammy Watkins to chop Pittsburgh’s result in a solitary level. Head coach John Harbaugh had a resolution to make: the Ravens might tie the sport on an additional level from Justin Tucker – most likely the best kicker within the historical past of the NFL – or win in regulation with a profitable two-point conversion.

The Ravens felt unsure about heading into time beyond regulation with a battered cornerback corps. So, Harbaugh made the gutsy call to go for two. It didn’t work. Jackson’s cross bounced off Mark Andrews’s fingers and the Ravens’ ensuing desperation onside kick failed. In probably the most unlikely of manners, Pittsburgh survived one more wrenching, low-scoring recreation towards Baltimore.

In sports activities, no one remembers if a head coach makes the proper resolution, solely whether or not that call will get outcomes. On this case, it didn’t, and Harbaugh is already dealing with heavy criticism. In a vacuum, nevertheless, going for two looks like a sound call, particularly in a league the place time beyond regulation victory is so heavily-dependent on the toss of a coin. What Harbaugh does deserve some blame for is his workforce’s incapability to execute the play. And it handed Roethlisberger maybe his closing victory over the Ravens.

Sunday’s recreation marked the thirty ninth fourth-quarter comeback of his profession. That quantity feels low since few QBs in current reminiscence have been as harmful underneath strain or have displayed such productive improvisation when calls go awry. Throughout his peak, defenses broke down the safety surrounding Large Ben at their very own peril: he was distinctive amongst friends in turning into extra harmful when working inside a collapsing pocket.

That prime, nevertheless, was endlessly in the past in NFL years. Partly due to the way in which he performs, the 39-year-old has taken a beating on the sphere and was by no means going to carry off Father Time in the way in which Tom Brady has. Even with Sunday’s win, the Steelers are 6-5-1, behind each the Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals within the AFC North and barely forward of the 6-6 Cleveland Browns. They’re within the playoff hunt, however solely simply.

Unusually, Roethlisberger might have ended up serving to one other certainly one of his previous rivals on Sunday. With the Ravens dropping to 8-4, the New England Patriots may have sole possession of the most effective file within the AFC in the event that they beat the Buffalo Payments on Monday Evening Soccer (conversely, if the Payments win they may prime the AFC East forward of the Patriots.)

For the Steelers although, the playoffs are an outdoor wager at finest. Sunday’s win over the Ravens might effectively show to be the final massive win of Roethlisberger’s lengthy profession.

MVP of the week

Kyler Murray’s  Arizona Cardinals have the best record in the NFL
Kyler Murray’s Arizona Cardinals have the most effective file within the NFL. {Photograph}: David Banks/AP

Kyler Murray, QB, Arizona Cardinals. Murray confirmed no indicators of rust upon his return from damage, throwing a pair of touchdowns and dashing for two extra. Murray solely put up 182 all-purpose yards, however that was comprehensible contemplating the depressing climate he was working in.

How dangerous had been the circumstances at Soldier Area on Sunday? Nicely, the defining picture of the sport may need been an unlucky Bears fan attempting to put on a poncho within the wind and rain. Possibly they need to have stored their eyes lined: the Cardinals crushed the Bears 33-22, enhancing their file to 10-2, the most effective within the NFL

Video of the week

It lastly occurred! The Detroit Lions defeated the Minnesota Vikings 29-27, for their first victory of the season. Sure, the Lions at the moment are 1-10-1 which continues to be horrible – however not as dangerous as 0-11-1. Rookie offensive sort out Penei Sewell celebrated his first skilled win by letting out all of the feelings. Sadly for Sewell, if you wish to earn prestigious Quote of the Week honors, you could really categorical your pleasure in phrases.

It was comprehensible, nevertheless, as Detroit didn’t simply win however did so in thrilling trend. Jared Goff hit the impeccably named huge receiver Amon-Ra St Brown with a touchdown pass as time expired.

Stat of the week

12-0. Heading into Sunday’s recreation, the Philadelphia Eagles had an 11-0 all-time record against the New York Jets. Nicely, they improved that to 12-0 with a 33-18 win. It was excellent news for the workforce, besides perhaps common beginning quarterback Jalen Hurts.

That’s as a result of Eagles followers have found perennial backup/cult hero Gardner Minshew. Hurts sprained his ankle towards the New York Giants and wasn’t out there towards the Jets. Minshew admirably stepped in and threw for two touchdowns and 242 yards.

This already has followers desirous to anoint Minshew because the Subsequent Nick Foles, the backup who memorably stepped in to defeat the New England Patriots for the franchise’s sole Tremendous Bowl victory. It’s simple to really feel completely satisfied for Minshew, however Eagles followers ought to hold their expectations down. When you have a look at the file books, it doesn’t actually matter who they begin as a quarterback – alongside as they’re dealing with the Jets.

Quote of the week

“What on this planet is occurring right here?” – CBS broadcaster Kevin Harlan.

Together with this call of a Jimmy Garoppolo interception because the Quote of the Week is extra like a lifetime achievement award for announcer Harlan, one of the NFL’s all-time great voices. Harlan has supplied play-by-play protection for the NFL, NBA, and school basketball for many years and it’s simple to listen to why he’s thought-about among the finest within the enterprise. Harlan combines old-school gravitas with a aptitude for the dramatic.

Plus, on uncommon and magical events, he sometimes calls animal touchdowns.

Harlan had an entertaining recreation to cowl on Sunday, a topsy-turvy recreation between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks broke a three-game shedding streak with a 30-23 victory. Amongst different issues, the sport featured a fake punt touchdown from Seattle, one thing which Harlan very a lot appreciated.

Elsewhere across the league

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are set for another playoff appearance
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are set for one other playoff look. {Photograph}: Erik S Lesser/EPA

— With Daniel Jones out injured for the Giants on Sunday, Mike Glennon made an look for the sixth workforce of his NFL profession. One can have a lengthy and profitable profession as a second-string QB (Glennon has earned $31m throughout his time within the NFL), however it’s typically not a fairly one. Proper out of the gate, Glennon almost immediately threw an interception. That set the tone for the Giants, who had been outplayed by a Miami Dolphins workforce in a 20-9 defeat. So as to add damage to insult, Glennon was diagnosed with a concussion shortly after the sport.

— Daniel Sorensen’s most important function for a lot of the season was to be the stumbling image of the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs’ terrible protection. On Sunday Evening Soccer towards the Denver Broncos, he recorded a 75-yard pick-six and stopped a two-point conversion. Now Sorensen is a image of the Chiefs’ turnaround: their protection appears fairly good and, after a comprehensive victory over the Broncos, Kansas Metropolis have the joint-best file within the AFC. It was additionally the Chiefs’ twelfth consecutive win over the Broncos.

— The Carolina Panthers didn’t play on Sunday, however they made headlines anyway, firing their offensive coordinator Joe Brady. The Panthers began 3-0 however couldn’t capitalize and at the moment are 5-7 and have misplaced nominal starter Sam Darnold to injured reserve. Their hope is that Cam Newton bounces again after his try and put collectively a feelgood comeback story hit a hurdle in final week’s loss to the Dolphins.

— Since winless streaks appear to be the theme of at present’s column, it’s additionally time to speak about how Matt Ryan’s Atlanta Falcons have never won a game against a Tom Brady-led team. That development continued on Sunday because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 30-17.

Brady, as common, had a improbable recreation towards the Atlanta protection, throwing for 4 touchdowns – and a single interception – and 368 passing yards. With the Buccaneers’ at 9-3, it appears like he’s retaining his MVP case afloat, even when he’s the final participant who wants any extra {hardware} (simply ask the Falcons).

— Apologies to all of the messy individuals who love drama: there was completely none within the Los Angeles Rams’ 37-7 demolition of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. No person might have anticipated Trevor Lawrence to immediately elevate a workforce whose 2020 file was dangerous sufficient to get the primary collection of this yr’s draft, however the Jaguars at the moment are 2-10 and have proven little or no enchancment underneath City Meyer.