Week 17 Blog: A recap of the news

Friday, December 30

Knowing what to expect: T.J. Watt knows exactly what to expect on Sunday night.

He knows it's going to be a physical football game.

He knows it's going to be two teams that will bring it every snap.

And he knows the atmosphere is going to be on fire.

"It's huge," said Watt of the AFC North rivalry against the Baltimore Ravens. "It seems like every AFC North game is a rivalry. But this one specifically, especially this late in the season, night game. It's going to be a crazy atmosphere."

The expectation is that Tyler Huntley will start at quarterback for the Ravens again this week, with Lamar Jackson still dealing with a knee injury that forced him to miss the Week 14 game against the Steelers at Acrisure Stadium. Watt said it helps to have more tape on Huntley, who started the last two weeks as well.

"We have a lot of tape," said Watt. "He's capable, he had success against us last time we played them. There is a lot of film we can learn from for sure."

When the two teams met earlier this season, the outcome was far from what Watt and his teammates had hoped for. The Ravens put up 215 yards rushing with J.K. Dobbins going for 120 yards on 15 carries, an eight-yard average.

Coach Mike Tomlin referred to it as a 'bad day,' but Watt knows you can't have those kind of days, especially this late in the season.

"You can't afford to have bad days in the NFL because you get exposed no matter who is at quarterback," said Watt. "I feel much more comfortable about the week that we've had this week. It's important that we have the film that we have to learn from. It wasn't too long ago, so it's still fresh in our minds. Just have to come out and play physical football."

Physicality the key: Receiver Miles Boykin has played in his share of Steelers-Ravens games, and it came as no surprise to him that Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium was flexed from a 1 p.m. kickoff to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.

"I think anybody who has watched these games knows how fun they are, how physical they are, and how entertaining they are," said Boykin. "I think I leave that game every time, when I was there and when we played them here, every time I leave that game, I say dang, that was a game, whether we won or lost, that was a fun game. It's true football. Seeing it on primetime is what you want.

"If you aren't playing meaningful games in January, you aren't doing the right thing."

Boykin played his first three seasons in the NFL with the Ravens, signing with the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He understands the rivalry, a rivalry that features two teams with similar mindsets.

"I think it's the physicality both teams bring," said Boykin. "We have similar mindsets. We want to be the bullies. They want to be the bullies. That is AFC North ball. But when these two teams play against each other, it's two bullies playing against each other. That's what makes it so great.

"It's dominant style football we both play. We both have a chip on our shoulder every time we step on that field, and you see it clash."

Boykin understands one of the main reasons the game was flexed is the Steelers being in the playoff hunt, something that became a possibility after the team's post-bye turnaround. After starting the year 2-6, the black and gold are 5-2 after the bye.

"I think it speaks to our team's resilience," said Boykin. "How we started the season wasn't how we wanted to start. We reeled everybody back in, got locked in and have been playing better football every week since the bye.

"We are happy with what we are doing. We know we aren't a finished product yet and we're still getting better every single game. That's what we plan to do the last two games and it starts on Sunday night."

Accountability has been one of the biggest factors for the overall team performance, something that has come into play as the team has grown as one.

"It was holding each other accountable as a team," said Boykin. "Controlling what we can control. Doing what we know we are capable of doing and putting it out there on the field and being consistent in what we do. I think it showed up in a lot of ways. There are a lot of ways we can get better, but we are on the right track."

Stopping the run: It's a topic that has come up multiple times in the Steelers locker room this week, and it's going to be on the minds of the Steelers defense until they take the field on Sunday.

In the last meeting against the Ravens the Steelers allowed 215 yards rushing, something uncharacteristic of their post-bye week play.

This week, they know the Ravens are going to want to keep it on the ground and they will be prepared.

"We want to shut it down," said linebacker Robert Spillane. "They have shown over the last few weeks they want to put their biggest, strongest, best run blockers on the field and get behind them and have them play a physical style of game. We're prepared to match that. We have been preparing all week, getting our guys together and coming up with a strong game plan and understanding that game plan.

"We didn't have our best performance last game against them. We lacked a little bit of understanding of what we wanted to get done. That is the good thing about playing these divisional matchups. You get a second crack at playing those same teams. We are really looking forward to this weekend."

To make the weekend perfect, they will have to stop the tandem of J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries, an eight-yard average, in the first meeting, and Gus Edwards, who rushed for 66 yards. But they also have to be alert for quarterback Tyler Huntley, who is dangerous with his feet as well as his arm.

"I think it's more than two or three ends," said Spillane. "The fullbacks, tight ends, point of attack receivers that block. They buy into an 11-man run game and that includes the quarterback as well. When you have that type of offense, you have to be prepared to defend multiple runs, with many different types of offensive structures. I think we have done a good job this week of understanding what we have to get done."

Ready for primetime: The Steelers are playing on primetime for the second consecutive week after their game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium was flexed from a 1 p.m. start to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff.

Coach Mike Tomlin embraced the time change, knowing that shows the significance of the game.

"I think this is the tenth time that Harbs (Ravens Coach John Harbaugh) and I have played Sunday Night ball together," said Tomlin. "He's an awesome dance partner. They're an awesome dance partner. It's just good to be in a significant game.

"So, when I got the call the other night that the game was flexed, man, I didn't hate that. I love that. If your games are not getting flexed this time of year, you're not doing it right. You're not in significant ones. We don't run from that; we run to that.

"Although we do respect their environment and the hostility of that environment on Sunday Night Football, we're not going to hate the fact that we're there. We're going to embrace that and smile in the face of the adversity that those variables create."

Tomlin's approach and mindset is one that resonates with his players, who are happy to be playing in a game that means a lot in Week 17.

"I would agree," said defensive lineman Montravius Adams. "At the end of the day we have to win everything, every game we play no matter when it is. That is my mindset. We played this team before, and we are just trying to get this W."

Quarterback Kenny Pickett knows the key is no matter what time kickoff is, it's about focusing on the task at hand.

"We have to handle our business," said Pickett. "That's the first things first, and what we've got to do is get a win on Sunday night. So, that's everyone's main focus."

For cornerback Levi Wallace, getting flexed doesn't just mean the game is significant. It also means his family can watch him play for a second straight week.

"It's a blessing to be flexed, another primetime game two weeks in a row," said Wallace. "My family is in Arizona, so they have a good chance to see the game.

"It's pretty cool to get flexed. We just have to go out there and make the most of the opportunity we have. Especially against the Ravens. We know what type of game this is going to be. We have to be locked in and ready to dominate the game."

Time change: The Steelers Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens has been flexed by the NFL.

The game, which will be played on Sunday, January 1 at M&T Bank Stadium, has been changed from a 1 p.m. kickoff to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff. The game will air on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

This is the second game this season that the Steelers have had flexed.

NFL Flexible Scheduling Policy:
Flexible scheduling decisions for Sunday Night Football will be made on 12 days' notice for Weeks 5-14 and may be made on 6 days' notice for Weeks 15 and 17 if needed. Flexible scheduling for Monday Night Football does not begin until the 2023 season.

Tune in: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Thursday, December 29

They had a bad day: Coach Mike Tomlin referred to it as 'a bad day' for the Steelers run defense, referring to the Week 14 game against the Baltimore Ravens, a 16-14 loss.

It's likely nobody in the Steelers locker room would argue with that.

"I think our run defense has been really solid over the second half of the year," said Tomlin. "It wasn't reflected in our play that day. There's nothing we can do about that. That tape's in the can. We're preparing for this tape that we're going to put out on Sunday night."

The Ravens won the meeting at Acrisure Stadium, putting up 215 yards rushing with J.K. Dobbins going for 120 yards on 15 carries, an eight-yard average.

It's a performance that still bugs defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.

"I didn't stay in my gap," said Heyward. "We didn't get off blocks as a group. And it's 16-14, and to end the game they need to win three downs and we didn't win those three downs and they were able to run the clock out.

"That weighs on me more than anything because we didn't give our offense another chance to go down there and win it."

Heyward knows in order to come out on top this week they have to shut down the tandem of Dobbins and Gus Edwards, who rushed for 66 yards in Week 14, but they also have to be alert for quarterback Tyler Huntley, who is dangerous with his feet as well as his arm.

"I think it's about them (Dobbins and Edwards), but don't get me wrong. Huntley's definitely part of the running game as well. Especially in the red zone," said Heyward. "I think they mix things up. You can look at the Atlanta game. There were some quarterback runs where he had a lot of success. In the Denver game, to win the game they got the two-point conversion with Huntley. I'm not discounting him. But that two-headed monster of Dobbins and Edwards really do a great job of falling forward with that big offensive line and we're looking forward to attacking them."

A tale of two seasons: The 2022 season has been a tale of two seasons for the Steelers, after starting the year 1-4 and having a 2-6 record after Week 8, and then finding themselves in the playoff hunt in Week 17 after posting a 5-2 record following their bye week.

The turnaround is something that doesn't surprise anyone in the Steelers locker room, because they have never doubted themselves.

"I think it is a representation of the hard work and dedication, everybody coming in and putting their head down and just working," said defensive back Tre Norwood. "We got off to a slow start at the start of the season. It shows how we stayed together in this building, not paying attention to any of the outside noise, just sticking together, working hard. We are getting on a roll now and playing complementary football on all three sides. We have to keep stacking and finish up this thing strong."

Cornerback Levi Wallace said one of the key factors as of late is players having fun, and that comes with winning.

"I am not surprised," said Wallace. "It's unfortunate it took this long. At the same time, we have a lot of new pieces in important places. Some guys missed some time this year too. With all of the new pieces, I think we are gelling as a team right now.

"We are out there having fun, remembering it's fun. I know I am having fun. Winning is important for us. And to have your game flexed, the first day of the new year is super exciting. We have to keep that same energy we had last week. Keep fighting, keeping having fun and keep pushing each other in the process."

That fun aspect is something that has definitely returned for the black and gold, an aspect that comes hand-in-hand with results on the field.

"It is definitely more fun," said defensive back Tre Norwood with a huge smile. "It definitely is. Those first five weeks, you could feel the vibe because everybody here hates losing. That is the competitive nature. Everybody in this building, not just in the locker room but the building as a whole, hates to lose.

"Us getting back in the win column, stacking the wins, playing complementary football, you can see the fun, the light-hearted good energy from everybody in the building. It's something you love to be around. We just have to keep stacking."

Upholding the legacy: Cameron Heyward is the longest tenured Steelers player on the 53-man roster, now in his 12th season in the black and gold.

And it's that experience, that tradition that has been pass on by those before him, that has him understanding the legacy of being a Steelers player more than anyone on the roster.

And it's a legacy he passes down to younger players, the same way those before him did, by respecting and honoring it.

"I don't look at it as me just passing it on," said Heyward. "I think it's living in it. Being a part of it. There's a respect there that I was given as a young guy coming to this team and what you need to uphold, you want to be a part of that. To be a part of it, you got to be willing to give up of yourself.

"I think there were certain ways of them saying you need to do it but embracing it and understanding that to be a part of such a historical team, there's a way we do things around here. There's a way you go about carrying on the legacy."

When Heyward came to the Steelers as a rookie in 2011, he had veterans to learn from, players like Casey Hampton, Chris Hoke, Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith, defensive linemen who understood what it meant to wear the jersey, to have the logo on their helmet. He listened to what they said, he followed their example, and it helped mold him into what he is today.

"When I got here, these guys were coming off the Super Bowl," said Heyward. "Coach Mitch (John Mitchell) made it clear to me that you're not going to start right away. I got my playmakers. And so, for me, it was just about being a sponge, and absorbing as much as I could. They would have their old guy meetings. They'd be upstairs watching TV and I just wanted to sit there, be a part of it. And I appreciated that. I came to work every day trying to get a better understanding of relationships and understand how they went about their business was huge for me. They made me a better pro because of it."

And it also helped make him the perfect representative of Steelers football. Heyward had the honor of carrying the No. 32 flag out onto the field against the Raiders on Saturday night to honor the late Franco Harris, and in Heyward's mind there was no way the Steelers were going to be denied from winning the game to honor Harris.

Heyward was a man possessed in the fourth quarter, sacking Derek Carr for a 10-yard loss and coming after running back Josh Jacobs to slam the door on him too so the offense could get the ball back for the game-winning drive.

"Personally, I just was not going to take no," said Heyward. "With everything going on, you don't want to dedicate games, but I just felt in my mind that wasn't gonna happen. I know it's a team game and you need your teammates to follow that as well. But I felt from the group we weren't going to take that as well. (Coach) Mike T(omlin) brought up you dedicate a game it can go one or two ways. He can say that, but through our hearts we felt like we couldn't."

Time change: The Steelers Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens has been flexed by the NFL.

The game, which will be played on Sunday, January 1 at M&T Bank Stadium, has been changed from a 1 p.m. kickoff to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff. The game will air on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

This is the second game this season that the Steelers have had flexed.

NFL Flexible Scheduling Policy:
Flexible scheduling decisions for Sunday Night Football will be made on 12 days' notice for Weeks 5-14 and may be made on 6 days' notice for Weeks 15 and 17 if needed. Flexible scheduling for Monday Night Football does not begin until the 2023 season.

Tune in: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Usual suspects: The Ravens will be bringing the type of impressive defensive rankings traditionally associated with a Baltimore defense with them into Sunday night's rematch with the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Ravens are No. 3 in the NFL in rushing defense and No. 10 in total defense through 16 weeks.
But the amount of zone defense Baltimore has played lately, and played in the Ravens' 16-14 victory over the Steelers on Dec. 11 at Acrisure Stadium, has Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada's attention this week.

"There was a fair amount," Canada assessed. "Obviously, it's a point of emphasis."

Wide receiver Diontae Johnson was among the Steelers' players who spoke this week about the need to beat zones to beat Baltimore.

"That's good that that's what they're talking about," Canada said. "We've talked about that all week as far as just the details. As we continue to grow, we're making a lot of strides with the details and being at the right place at the right time, everybody being on the same page and understanding when to sit, when to clear. So, we saw a fair amount. They're good at it.

"It's not just from them. I mean, it's obviously football. But as we continue to evolve, the details of (quarterback) Kenny (Pickett) with those guys, and having those feels are important."

The initial Ravens-Steelers meeting was the fifth game in a Baltimore uniform for former Bears inside linebacker Roquan Smith.

"They've certainly changed since the trade deadline and the change they've made there," Canada said. "I think that would be a fair thing to say."

The Ravens are No. 25 in pass defense and No. 3 in scoring defense (18.1 points per game against).
Pickett played just two series in the teams' initial meeting.

The Steelers ended up attempting 31 passes and 20 runs.

Backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky threw for 276 yards but was also intercepted three times.

Canada acknowledged a desire to run the ball with more regularity this time "if the game could go that way.

"I mean, they're a really good defense," he added. "So, in every game, we have a plan we'd like to do, but you're going to have to do what you feel like is working at the time and try to find a way to score points."

The Steelers are preparing for a physical battle on both sides of the ball whether it's being run or thrown.

"I think we just understand that every game, there's a complimentary-football element to the game that Coach (Mike) Tomlin sets out and we understand how we think the game is going to go and evolve throughout the game," Canada said. "Certainly, in this game, everyone's well aware of the physical nature of this game, the physical nature that both teams want to play with, and are trying to do as their identity, if you will.

"So, I think that's something we expect, and it's certainly throughout history. I think in five games I've been in, it's certainly been the case."

-- blog entry by Mike Prisuta

Wednesday, December 28

Picking it up: After starting the season 1-4, and having a 2-6 record after Week 8, the Steelers find themselves in the playoff hunt in Week 17 after posting a 5-2 record following their bye week.

A lot of players have pointed to that week as a turning point, a time when they said they made some changes and adaptations.

"Running the ball, better blocking assignments, really just buying in and believing in the coaches, believing in ourselves," said receiver Diontae Johnson. "At the beginning we started off slow and picked it up as the season went on. After that bye week, we wanted to turn it around and finish the season strong, have a good record and win games. That's what we do, what the Pittsburgh Steelers do is win, play good defense, hard-nosed football. We wanted to show that. I feel like we've been doing that. Kenny's (Pickett) been playing way better. He's playing more comfortable and getting the ball down the field, spreading it around, giving it to his guys. And we're making plays for him. The defense gonna do what they do. We're just going to continue to rally like that."

That rally will have to continue this week against the Baltimore Ravens for the Steelers playoff hopes to stay alive, plus some help along the way. But as the players have been preaching, you can only control what you can control.

"I try not to think about it," said Johnson. "Stuff will happen. We can only control what we can, which is win these last two games and hope somebody loses and whatnot so we can get in. You can't just worry about everything else that's going on. We're just going to focus on what's going on in this locker room. As long as we keep playing good football, we're going to be good."

Don't stop believing: When the Steelers found themselves with a 1-4 record after Week 5 of the season, and 2-6 after Week 8, there were many outside the walls of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex that gave them little to no hope to turn things around.

But inside the locker room, hope never faded.

Going into Week 17 the Steelers are 7-8 and while it's not a straight path, there is a path that can get them into the playoffs.

And part of that reason, is they never gave up on each other.

"I think as professionals that's what you're supposed to do," said safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. "You're not supposed to count yourself out. You're never supposed to walk with your head down. You're supposed to carry yourself as a professional and that means taking pride in everything that you do, whether you are 0-10 or 10-0, you are supposed to carry yourself the same."

Control what you can: While many fans and media are figuring out the scenarios of how the Steelers can make the playoffs, the players themselves are not trying to bog themselves down with that.

Instead, they are focused on one thing.

Winning on Sunday night in Baltimore.

"I'm focused on just winning, doing your job, controlling what we can control," said safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. "And all that we can control is winning our games."

Rookie tight end Connor Heyward shares the same mindset.

"I'm just going out there with the right mindset to win," said Heyward. "The mindset to control what we control and dominate."

They will have to be singularly focused on that as they are facing one of their AFC North foes in the Baltimore Ravens, who at 10-5 have already clinched a playoff spot but are looking to win the AFC North.

"They're a great team," said Heyward. "They have a great offense, a great defense, and one of the best kickers in the league. We have to play well in all three phases."

Cam's on fire: Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday night.

Heyward helped lead a defensive performance that held the Raiders to only 10 points in the Steelers 13-10 win.

Heyward had seven tackles, three of them for a loss, two sacks and one pass defensed. He was the only AFC defender to record multiple sacks in Week 16.

Heyward joked his performance was because he got a nap, coming into the game well-rested.

"Got a little nap in the middle of the day," said Heyward. "Kids weren't jumping too much on me. Got to wrap some presents when I get home.

"I think for me it was just we're still in the hunt. We just got to take it one game at a time. But I like to think we just keep getting better and better as the weeks go on."

Heyward also was a leader for the Steelers on an emotional night, coming out of the locker room during player introductions carrying a No. 32 flag to honor the late Franco Harris, whose jersey was retired at halftime.

"I think for us it was just a tip of a cap to not only just a Steelers legend, but a great man, a person in this the community who you could always count on, a guy that even when he retired, he still wanted to be your teammate," said Heyward. "I can say from my time being here, Franco was welcoming me with open arms. It was -- with everything building up to this and getting the chance to talk to Franco, I think there are so many joyous moments we've had with him, and it hurt so many in this community to lose a guy like that.

"But you knew he lived a full life, and you knew he was loved by so many people. There are so many outstanding men that love him, Mean Joe (Greene), Mel Blount, countless others, Terry Bradshaw. They talk to Mike T, myself, Najee Harris. Decades and decades go on, but we still cared for a man that brought so much to us.

"To just say that we loved him, we'll continue to love him, and we appreciate all that's done for us."

This is the third time Heyward has won Defensive Player of the Week honors, previously doing so in Weeks 4 and 12 in 2017. He is the third Steelers player to win it this season, joining Minkah Fitzpatrick (Week 1) and Alex Highsmith (Week 10).

Heyward is the Steelers nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide. This is the fifth time Heyward has been the Steelers' nominee.

Every NFL team names a Man of the Year nominee, and they are all eligible to be the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide.

Steelers fans can do their part to help Heyward win the award by voting for him on Twitter through tweets and re-tweets.

Simply tweet #WPMOYChallenge and @CamHeyward or #WPMOYChallenge and Heyward to vote for him. You can also re-tweet any tweet with that mentioned in it.

Time change: The Steelers Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens has been flexed by the NFL.

The game, which will be played on Sunday, January 1 at M&T Bank Stadium, has been changed from a 1 p.m. kickoff to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff. The game will air on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

This is the second game this season that the Steelers have had flexed.

NFL Flexible Scheduling Policy:
Flexible scheduling decisions for Sunday Night Football will be made on 12 days' notice for Weeks 5-14 and may be made on 6 days' notice for Weeks 15 and 17 if needed. Flexible scheduling for Monday Night Football does not begin until the 2023 season.

ICYMI: The Steelers signed linebacker Tae Crowder to the 53-man roster, signing him off the New York Giants practice squad. In a related move, the team placed linebacker Marcus Allen on the Reserve/Injured List. Allen suffered a biceps injury in the win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday night.

The Steelers also signed safety Scott Nelson to the practice squad. Nelson was briefly on the practice squad in October.

Crowder was selected by the Giants in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, the 255th overall pick.

Crowder played in 13 games in 2022, with eight starts. He recorded one sack, a forced fumble and a pass defense this season.

Crowder had played in a total of 40 games, with 28 starts, in three seasons. He played in 28 games, with 23 starts, in his first two seasons with the Giants. He has amassed 229 tackles, including 122 solo stops, two sacks, eight passes defensed, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.

He played collegiately at the University of Georgia where he started 19 of the 43 games he played, finishing with 122 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

Nelson originally signed with the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft. Nelson was released by the Seahawks on the final roster cut before the start of the regular season and was re-signed to the practice squad for a short stint.

Nelson finished with 127 tackles, 81 solo stops, in 29 games at Wisconsin. He added 11 tackles for a loss, four interceptions, a forced fumble, a sack and 19 passes defensed. In his senior season he set career highs with 60 tackles, 40 solo stops and tied his career-high with seven passes defensed.

Tune in: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

Monday, December 26

Details matter: The Raiders came out on fire on Saturday night on a bitterly cold night, gaining 72 yards on their opening drive, which resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Hunter Renfrow.

But after that, the Steelers defense put them on ice, allowing the Raiders to put up only 129 more yards for a total of 201 for the night.

Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick said it was all about the details.

"I think we locked in, keyed in on our details," said Fitzpatrick. "They had a good scripted first drive. They did some things that were counter to how we play, what we do. They get paid to do their job and execute, and sometimes they make plays. I think the only thing that really changed was us being out there on our details."

What the defense did after the opening drive was reminiscent of what they have done the last few weeks, especially against the run. Josh Jacobs, who was leading the league in rushing, was held to just 44 yards on 15 carries.

"I think people are just doing their jobs, play in and play out," said Fitzpatrick. "That's what wins games. That's what allows you to play good defense. It's not people doing extra and stepping outside of their bounds. It's everybody doing their job. And then those extra plays and those other things just come along as you get a feel for the game."

The Steelers will have to be on their details this week against the Baltimore Ravens, a team they have to beat in order to stay in playoff contention. The game was flexed from a 1 p.m. kickoff to an 8:20 p.m. kickoff on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

"Baltimore versus Pittsburgh," said Fitzpatrick. "You see how the first game went. Physical game, low scoring game, two great defenses. Great running offense on both sides of the ball. And I think that's the type of football that people like to watch."

The Ravens won the Week 14 meeting at Acrisure Stadium, 16-14. The Ravens put up a total of 215 yards with J.K. Dobbins going for 120 yards on 15 carries, an eight-yard average.

"We did some good things, but there are some things that we need to improve on," said Fitzpatrick. "Smashing the run is one of the things that we didn't do well that game. We've been doing a good job of that the last couple of weeks, so we just got to carry over the last few weeks into this game."

The right mindset: For Connor Heyward, the last play of the game on Saturday night was special for him.

Heyward took the jet sweep for 21 yards to put the game to rest and seal a victory on a night the entire team wanted to win for the late Franco Harris.

"It was a big-time win," said Heyward. "We knew what the game meant to the City of Pittsburgh, to this organization and we just wanted to go out there and win and I am glad we did. I am glad we won. You would see Franco here a lot. I am just glad we won.

"It's a cool moment. I don't think I've ever gotten a jet sweep in my life, so it was cool. We rep that at practice. Always being ready for the unexpected. You never know when your number will be called."

Heyward said once he started to get close to the sideline on the play, he knew he just had to slide and let the clock run out.

"In that situation if you have a little bit of football awareness you know what to do," said Heyward. "I could have run out of bounds, or even score, but get down, make sure we have the ball, possess the ball, because it will be over."

The way the offense performed at the end of the game, which included a fourth-quarter game-winning drive by quarterback Kenny Pickett, is indicative of the progress the offense continues to make.

"I think we are coming along the way we want to," said Heyward. "I think we are coming in with the right mindset of getting better each week and just trying to go 1-0. Trying to control what we can control.

"Mindset and everybody being on the same page, staying later, meeting longer and us meeting as a group as well."

Vote for Cam: Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward is the Steelers nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide. This is the fifth time Heyward has been the Steelers' nominee.

Every NFL team names a Man of the Year nominee, and they are all eligible to be the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide.

Steelers fans can do their part to help Heyward win the award by voting for him on Twitter through tweets and re-tweets.

Simply tweet #WPMOYChallenge and @CamHeyward or #WPMOYChallenge and Heyward to vote for him. You can also re-tweet any tweet with that mentioned in it.

Tune in: For fans who don't want to miss any of the action, NFL+ is here, which means you can now watch the Steelers live and on the go! Watch live local and primetime regular season games on your phone or tablet. Start your free trial today here.

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