PITTSBURGH — Mike Tomlin spent a portion of the week showing the Steelers clips of their longtime rivalry with the Ravens.
It was filled with big hits, iconic plays and career-defining performances.
For the better part of three hours Sunday, there was little to add to the reel.
Until, that is, the end, when a precocious play by a rookie whose father knows a thing or two about beating the Ravens led to a pair of throws that erased 56 minutes of offensive ineptitude, the last a 41-yard rainbow from Kenny Pickett to George Pickens with 1:17 to go that helped the Steelers rally to an improbable 17-10 victory.
“We found a way to win down the stretch,” Pickett said. “I think that’s all that matters. You know, we’re nowhere near as good as we need to be.”
Not even close. Yet it didn’t matter. Not with the Ravens (3-2) intent on giving the game away.
Baltimore turned it over three times, allowed a blocked punt for a safety that sparked Pittsburgh’s late surge and squandered a handful of other opportunities to bury the Steelers (3-2), the last coming when Lamar Jackson’s lob to the end zone to Zay Flowers with 4:10 to go ended up in the hands of Pittsburgh cornerback Joey Porter Jr., son of former Steeler linebacker and coach Joey Porter Sr.
Pickett, whose erratic play over the opening month of the season has offered little proof he’s ready to “kill it” in his first full year as the starter, gathered himself enough to drive the Steelers 80 yards in eight plays.
The last coming when Pickens beat veteran Ravens cornerback and fellow Hoover (Ala.) High alum Marlon Humphrey down the sideline to give Pittsburgh its first touchdown in nine quarters and help the Steelers put a one-sided blowout loss to Houston the previous week firmly in the rearview mirror.
“The resiliency from the game we just played was incredible,” said Pickens, who caught six passes for 130 yards.
Baltimore certainly helped. The Ravens dropped a handful of passes, including two in the end zone, and turned it over three times, including twice in the last five minutes to lose a game they seemingly had under control from the opening coin toss.
“They came out and played their game and ended up getting one,” Flowers said. “But we let them take that one.”
Pickett completed 18 of 32 for 242 yards and the touchdown, struggling with his accuracy except when throwing the ball up to the 6-foot-4-inch Pickens.
“You get to this level, there’s so many outside factors that try to get into a team and try to pull a team apart, whether it’s media-related, fan-related, whatever it may be,” Pickett said. “You have to stay together because it’s the ultimate team game.”
Jackson finished 22 of 38 for 236 yards and the late interception and 45 yards rushing while falling to 2-4 in his career against Pittsburgh.
“We had (the Steelers) beat,” Jackson said. “(On) offense, we had to find our groove; we didn’t find it. The defense played a great game — kept stopping, kept giving us opportunities. We’ve just got to do what we do (and) finish drives.”