Lamar Jackson's mistakes plague Ravens in 28-24 loss to Steelers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Lamar Jackson’s throw to Willie Snead nearly made up for it all.
Down by four with five seconds left on the clock, the Ravens offense needed 23 yards for a touchdown to win the game to cap a miraculous comeback win, one that should’ve never needed to be a comeback at all.
Jackson stepped up in the pocket and fired a strike from the 30-yard line in the air to Snead, who was running down the seam into the end zone. Snead leapt for the ball, but was met by Steelers defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick in the air and Justin Layne right behind him.
Snead was leveled as the ball fell to the ground, which prompted a massive cry from the Ravens’ sideline for a hit to the head on a defenseless receiver. No flag was thrown, however, as the Steelers ran onto the field in celebration. Jackson hung his head, white mouthpiece dangling from his facemask as the Steelers celebrated their 28-24 win in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 1, 2020
His throw, had it been completed or a flag been thrown, would’ve been the winning score. Instead, the incomplete pass was Jackson’s 15th of the afternoon — of which two were interceptions. The game came down to the final play, but for the Ravens, they had numerous opportunities to ensure Jackson never had to throw the final route to Snead.
“The turnovers I feel is the reason we lost the game,” Jackson said postgame. “I put that on me. Started the game, the first drive, with a pick six. Then we drive to the red zone, fumble. I’ve got to get the ball out because we know they’re dominant up front. Then the pick off the player from the flat, throwing at the mark, got to clean those up and I feel we won that game.”
Jackson turned the ball over four times, the most he’s ever had in his 29 career starts. He threw two interceptions (not including one near-interception that was overturned by video replay) and fumbled three times. The Steelers recovered two of his fumbles.
“The turnovers, obviously, were disappointing,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the difference in the game in some ways, obviously. And that’s part of it. We’re disappointed with that part of it. We’re very happy with other parts of it.”
The mistakes started early for Jackson, as it took the vaunted Steelers defense just 54 seconds to intercept Jackson as linebacker Robert Spillane took a 33-yard pick to the end zone for a score to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead early on.
Jackson rebounded as the Ravens took a 17-7 lead into halftime, but the problem with the Ravens 10-point lead was that it could’ve — and arguably should’ve — been a bigger lead.
Inside the Steelers’ 10-yard line, Jackson was hit from behind and fumbled which kept at least three points off the board early on. Mistakes by the Ravens handed the Steelers at least 10 points in the first quarter.
“Like I said with the fumble, we were talking about that all week, getting the ball out quick,” Jackson said. “If that would’ve happened, there wouldn’t have been no fumble, probably would’ve been another touchdown. It would’ve been 14-7 at the time.”
Instead of a lead of at least 20 points at the half, the Ravens only led by 10. And the problem for the Ravens was, while they played a dominant first half of football sans a few mistakes, they let a talented Steelers team hang around a game where they weren’t the better team for a half.
After a forced punt by the Ravens’ defense, Jackson threw his second interception of the day and gave the Steelers new life in Ravens territory. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger found a wide open Eric Ebron on the second play of the ensuing Steelers drive which cut the lead to 17-14 and officially put the Ravens on their heels.
And still, Jackson made enough plays to keep the Ravens afloat even after his mistakes. He ran for 65 yards on 16 carries, and even had a dazzling 20-yard run up the middle for a touchdown called back on a holding. The Ravens still scored on the drive, but in a theme of the 2020 season, there was something not right about the offense that ran through the NFL a year ago.
“I thought he competed, made a lot of great throws and runs and things like that,” Harbaugh said. “So, it’s a mixed bag in that sense, but of course we’re not pleased with losing the turnover battle. That’s something that we always want to win.”
The Ravens had a chance to take the lead after the Steelers took a 28-24 lead and marched deep into Steelers territory. But on 4th and 3, the Ravens emptied the backfield and ran a quarterback draw with Jackson up the middle. They went 69 yards in 10 plays, but Jackson was hit short of the line to gain.
To add to the despair, Jackson, who wouldn’t have earned a first down either way, tried frantically to stretch his arms out and reach the first-down marker. Instead, he was hit an additional time and fumbled. The Steelers recovered and took over on downs.
Jackson and the Ravens got the ball back one more time, but needed a historic finish to happen to escape with a win. Instead, the ball fell to the turf as the Steelers celebrated around a dejected Jackson, who had one of the worse regular-season game of his career in a crucial matchup.
In just eight of his now 38 games as a Raven, Jackson has he tallied an interception. Sunday was just the fourth multi-interception game of his career and the first time in his career he’s lost more than two fumbles in a game.
In two career games against the Steelers, Jackson has now turned the ball over to the Steelers’ defense seven times.
He said after the game that the Steelers’ defense didn’t do anything out of the ordinary or anything they hadn’t seen on film before. Opposing defenses have had a tendency to do such things through the first six games of the season.
The fix, however, at least to Jackson, is quite simple.
“Just hold onto the ball, that’s all,” he said. “Been doing a great job at it all season. Just have got to do better.”