Bringing out the best: It came down to the wire, but Coach Mike Tomlin was definitely pleased with the outcome of the Steelers 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
The win keeps the Steelers right in the mix in the AFC North with a 6-5-1 record.
"It's put up and shut up time for us," said Tomlin. "That's just the state that we're in, and we talked about it all week. I appreciate the efforts in terms of putting up, but we got a short week. We've got to go to Minnesota.
"I'm appreciative of the efforts. Man, it was much needed. I'm appreciative of the atmosphere that Steelers Nation provided and working in the comforts of Heinz Field.
"I'm appreciative of the Ravens, man. It takes two to tango. They bring the best out in us. Those games are always like that. I don't think anybody that's looked at them over the last 15 years or so are surprised by what transpired in terms of how the game was played. We are appreciative of the efforts and the things that produced victory. We realize we got a short week, man, and we are going to get to work."
Like Tomlin said, when the Steelers and Ravens meet, it definitely does bring out the best in both teams, something that has been the case from the get-go in this rivalry.
"Just the competitiveness," said Tomlin. "Whether we like it or not, I'm talking about us and the Ravens, we're tied together. There's been some significant games. It's about the men that have played in these games, the standard that they hold the current players to. Guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and others, guys on this side like Alan Faneca, Troy Polamalu, those Gold Jacket types that have had an opportunity to watch for 15 years that really kind of set a standard in the series that we all have to play to and uphold, and we are appreciative of that. Hopefully we made those Steelers alumni proud with our efforts tonight."
Next man up: Injuries have forced the Steelers to count on the next man up all season, and that was definitely the case again on Sunday against the Ravens.
Guard B.J. Finney went out early with a back injury, and was replaced by John Leglue, who was activated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster on Nov. 27.
And he wasn't the only one. Montravius Adams played at nose tackle after being signed on Monday, and Ahkello Witherspoon started at left cornerback with Joe Haden missing his third straight game.
"I can't say enough," said Tomlin. "How about guys like Leglue? How about Adams? Adams just got here and played a bunch of snaps for us. Witherspoon started in place of Joe Haden. I just can't say enough about the contributions we got from new Steelers or Steelers that are getting an opportunity to get their train out of the station in terms of their careers. Leglue, awesome."
Teaming-up: The Steelers defense was on the field 13 minutes longer than the Ravens defense, with Baltimore holding a 36:30-23:30 advantage in time of possession.
But they never faltered, with T.J. Watt and Chris Wormley coming through for a combined six sacks of Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, 3.5 for Watt and 2.5 for Wormley.
For Wormley, it was a huge game, as he was traded from the Ravens to the Steelers in 2020 and turned in a spectacular performance against his old team. In addition to the 2.5 sacks, Wormley had five tackles and three quarterback hits.
"I told 'Worm' when he got here, I said, man, when a team trades you within the division, they're telling you what they think of you," said Tomlin. "So, I hope he always plays like that when he sees them."
Having a day: Receiver Diontae Johnson rebounded from an early drop in the game to finish the day with eight receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
"Diontae has been unbelievable all year in terms of his approach to business, and that's why he is playing well," said Tomlin. "I don't think any of us are surprised. I think we're just surprised by the drop probably more than anything because of what we see him do day to day.
"He is the first to the field. He is the last off the field just about any day we work."