The Pittsburgh Steelers do not fear Lamar Jackson. The team felt so confident it could stymie Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens offense Sunday that the Steelers actually deferred after winning the coin toss in overtime.
That put a lot of pressure on the Steelers’ defense. If Jackson and the Ravens scored a touchdown on the opening drive in overtime, they would win the game.
While many questioned the Steelers’ decision, it paid off ... initially. The team forced the Ravens to punt after three plays in overtime. That meant the Steelers just needed to score to win.
That didn’t happen. On the team’s second play in overtime, JuJu Smith-Schuster lost a fumble. Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey recovered the fumble, setting the Ravens up in excellent field-goal position.
The Steelers’ decision to let Jackson try to beat them speaks volumes about how they feel about the Baltimore offense. Jackson has been a breakout player early in the season, but was held in check Sunday. Jackson completed 19 passes for just 161 yards. He threw one touchdown and was picked off by the Steelers three times.
It’s also possible the Steelers deferred because they couldn’t trust their offense. Mason Rudolph left the contest after he was knocked out cold after a brutal hit. The Steelers turned to undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges with Rudolph and Ben Roethlisberger sidelined.
Following the contest, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin explained his decision, saying it was all about special teams.
Tomlin on kick off to in OT: "Man, did you see our kickoff return in this football game? Did you see their kickoff team? Every time they put the ball on about the 2-yard line and Tucker hung the ball at about 4.5 secs, we couldn't get back to the 15. Why would I sign up for that?— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) October 6, 2019
The Steelers lost, but other teams might benefit. Pittsburgh may have created the blueprint on how to defend Jackson. The Ravens may have walked away from this game with a victory, but the team has work to do on offense.
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